2023 Principles Course Session
Introduction to Wheel-Rail Contact Mechanics
The immense load between a wheel and rail takes place over an area somewhere between that of a dime and a nickel. The resulting normal and shearing stresses place great demand on the wheel and rail steel, leading to wear, fatigue and sometime catastrophic failure. This presentation will cover how contact pressure changes with load, wheel diameter, stress and wheel/rail profiles. Next we will include the effects of friction and slip, and the development of shear stresses and forces. We will then talk about “real” wheel-rail contact scenarios that involve many different wheels and rails and lastly provide guidelines for managing the wheel-rail contact.