Technical Reports

A Review of Rail-Wheel Contact Stress Problems

  • 01
  • Apr
  • 1975
AUTHOR: Burton Paul
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-76/141
SUBJECT: Evaluation
KEYWORDS: Rail Failure, Residual Stress, Rolling Friction Stress Analysis, Contact Stress
ABSTRACT: From its earliest days, railroad technology has been limited by an inadequate understanding of the mechanics of load transfer between wheel and rail. It is the purpose of this paper to indicate the major problems in this area, and to review the progress made to date in the solution thereof. Attention is focused upon investigations of the stresses (normal pressure and tangential shear) on the contact patch, rather than upon studies of bending stresses in the rail. The physical basis of Hertz's widely used analysis is outlined, and the assumptions and limitations of that analysis are indicated. The need is shown for the development of solutions to important non-Hertzian problems such as: conformal contact (e.g. between worn wheels and track), contact of rough bodies, rolling friction, adhesion, and creep. The literature on these problems, as well as work in progress, is reviewed. A detailed mathematical treatment is avoided, but the principal results of much of the theory are illustrated through geometrical and physical descriptions. Recent works on the effects of surface waviness, plastic deformation, and residual stresses in rail, are reviewed.

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