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Norfolk Southern Reports Loose Wheels on Additional Railcars

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 2:20 PM

bogie_engineer
 
Fred M Cain 

Most interesting.  I didn't know this.  I would've assumed that they would've welded the wheels to the axles.  That would sound more logical but I'm not sure what kind of issues would be created by welding them. 

Welding would create a lot of problems first making removing the wheels to reuse the axle probably not economic. But more serious is that the axle is highly stressed at the junction with the wheel and welding brings in issues of stress concentration, weld quality, and effect on axle material strength from heating (heat-affected zone fatigue properties).

Dave

Not to mention the distortion of both the wheel and axle from the heat required in making the welds.  Actions taken to limit the distortion would create stresses of their own.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 1:39 PM

NYC-Ohio
Pretty sure that those wheels are made in the Pittsburg area.

There's a couple of them scattered around Western Pennsylvania.

I grew up in Butler and saw the last days of Trinity running the old P-S plant.  The last order for full cars built there were a batch of hoppers for Burlington Northern.  Flatbed trucks would come down US-422 into town with enough wheelsets for two cars. Judging from the route they took, I think they were coming from a factory in Sharon.

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Posted by bogie_engineer on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 11:37 AM

Fred M Cain
 

 

Most interesting.  I didn't know this.  I would've assumed that they would've welded the wheels to the axles.  That would sound more logical but I'm not sure what kind of issues would be created by welding them.

 

Welding would create a lot of problems first making removing the wheels to reuse the axle probably not economic. But more serious is that the axle is highly stressed at the junction with the wheel and welding brings in issues of stress concentration, weld quality, and effect on axle material strength from heating (heat-affected zone fatigue properties).

Dave

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 9:23 AM

bogie_engineer

Wheels are mounted by simply pressing them on to the axle. There is a very specific surface finish, and interference range required along with a measure of bore and seat taper. The pressing operation requires a lubricant meeting AAR specs and the tonnage to apply is recorded on a chart during the pressing operation.

<SNIP>

Most interesting.  I didn't know this.  I would've assumed that they would've welded the wheels to the axles.  That would sound more logical but I'm not sure what kind of issues would be created by welding them.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Monday, March 13, 2023 9:33 PM
 

BaltACD

 

 
blue streak 1
 
Gramp

Here's derailment today near Tulsa.  From the video, looks like bulkhead and coil cars were off track going into crossing?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/that-just-happened-train-derails-and-crashes-near-tulsa/vi-AA18lzsR?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=edef6e5cc0e14fdab99b0641cb833515&ei=60 

 
Was it the bulk head car rear truck jumped up at the grade crossing?  Does that mean the bulk head car was off the rails?
 
Are these press fits on same diameter each for axels and wheels or slightly tapered ?  That difference would have indicated press Kns different during press oerations ? Would it be possible to make common freight wheel sets have a larger diameter inside solid collar that would prevent wheels to go less than inside gauge specs ?
 
Also are the roller bearings fitted so the wheels cannot go gauge + ?

 

First 5 minutes are about making wheels and wheelsets

 

Forged wheels. Figured these would be for what I'm assumed to be Passenger/HSR wheelsets. Most if not all freight wheels are still cast I believe.

 
 
 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by bogie_engineer on Monday, March 13, 2023 12:44 PM

oltmannd

 

Yikes!  I'll bet whoever discovered that found it hard to beleive they were seeing what they were seeing!  Also, probably lots and lots of furrowed eyebrows back at LaGrange...

Lateral forces high enough to start to unseat wheels, hmmm...  

This was definitely a big deal at the time in LaGrange and a lot of resources were expended to find the cause and fix the problem. The SDP40F's were notorious for rough lateral ride and a number of changes to the HT-C trucks were made to including opening up the lateral bolster to truck frame clearance to stops, softening the secondary rubber springs, and adding lateral dampers. But as far as I know, no derailments were attributed to the wheel moving issue. The prime people involved at EMD have all passed away in the last few years.

Dave

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, March 13, 2023 10:06 AM

bogie_engineer
EMD had a problem with wheels moving on the axles on the first batch of SDP40F's for Amtrak on the Santa Fe. After many cab rides, it was found a specific diamond crossing in the SW had bad alignment and the impact at the higher speeds that Amtrak ran was enough to move the wheels slightly.

Yikes!  I'll bet whoever discovered that found it hard to beleive they were seeing what they were seeing!  Also, probably lots and lots of furrowed eyebrows back at LaGrange...

Lateral forces high enough to start to unseat wheels, hmmm...  

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, March 13, 2023 10:00 AM

bogie_engineer

Wheels are mounted by simply pressing them on to the axle. There is a very specific surface finish, and interference range required along with a measure of bore and seat taper. The pressing operation requires a lubricant meeting AAR specs and the tonnage to apply is recorded on a chart during the pressing operation. The tonnage has to increase at a specified slope as the wheel is further engaging the axle. For locomotive wheels, the final tonnage has to be between 95 and 145 tons IIRC. The shop doing the work has to be inspected and approved by AAR showing they can meet all the requirements including the record keeping needed. Axle and wheels are serialized for traceability.

EMD had a problem with wheels moving on the axles on the first batch of SDP40F's for Amtrak on the Santa Fe. After many cab rides, it was found a specific diamond crossing in the SW had bad alignment and the impact at the higher speeds that Amtrak ran was enough to move the wheels slightly. This resulted in increasing the tonnage required to the 95-145 range for the 10.25" bore loco wheels, prior, I believe, the minimum was about 75 tons.

Whichever shop mounted these wheels will be under a lot of scrutiny, rightly so.

Dave

 

This is it.  100%.  The big question is how does an AAR certified wheel shop let this happen.  This is really mature technology...

Cars go through many wheelsets in their life.  Multiwear wheels will get re-turned a few times in thier life without dismounting the wheels - but new/rebuilt bearings will be applied at that time - from AAR certified bearing vendors.

Once the wheels are worn to the condeming limit, they are pressed off.  The axle can be reused.  It is inspected various ways, wheel seats are machined and new wheels pressed on.

The press tonnage is recorded for each wheel mounted.

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, March 12, 2023 10:59 PM

blue streak 1
 
Gramp

Here's derailment today near Tulsa.  From the video, looks like bulkhead and coil cars were off track going into crossing?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/that-just-happened-train-derails-and-crashes-near-tulsa/vi-AA18lzsR?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=edef6e5cc0e14fdab99b0641cb833515&ei=60 

 
Was it the bulk head car rear truck jumped up at the grade crossing?  Does that mean the bulk head car was off the rails?
 
Are these press fits on same diameter each for axels and wheels or slightly tapered ?  That difference would have indicated press Kns different during press oerations ? Would it be possible to make common freight wheel sets have a larger diameter inside solid collar that would prevent wheels to go less than inside gauge specs ?
 
Also are the roller bearings fitted so the wheels cannot go gauge + ?

First 5 minutes are about making wheels and wheelsets

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, March 12, 2023 10:43 PM

Gramp

Here's derailment today near Tulsa.  From the video, looks like bulkhead and coil cars were off track going into crossing?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/that-just-happened-train-derails-and-crashes-near-tulsa/vi-AA18lzsR?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=edef6e5cc0e14fdab99b0641cb833515&ei=60

 

 
Was it the bulk head car rear truck jumped up at the grade crossing?  Does that mean the bulk head car was off the rails?
 
Are these press fits on same diameter each for axels and wheels or slightly tapered ?  That difference would have indicated press Kns different during press oerations ? Would it be possible to make common freight wheel sets have a larger diameter inside solid collar that would prevent wheels to go less than inside gauge specs ?
 
Also are the roller bearings fitted so the wheels cannot go gauge + ?
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Posted by Gramp on Sunday, March 12, 2023 5:26 PM

Here's derailment today near Tulsa.  From the video, looks like bulkhead and coil cars were off track going into crossing?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/that-just-happened-train-derails-and-crashes-near-tulsa/vi-AA18lzsR?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=edef6e5cc0e14fdab99b0641cb833515&ei=60

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, March 12, 2023 4:15 PM

charlie hebdo
The connection is the big picture - rail safety or lack thereof.  That is the angle. As Balt put it, not much of a safety culture on the NS.

I get that part.  I'm pretty sure, though, I saw it suggested that loose wheels had something to do with East Palestine...

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, March 12, 2023 10:44 AM

tree68
Any reference bringing East Palestine and Springfield together is simply reaching by a news organization, looking for an angle.

The connection is the big picture - rail safety or lack thereof.  That is the angle. As Balt put it, not much of asafety cultre on the NS.

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, March 12, 2023 9:38 AM

Mistakes are always possible, but in this case, they are never acceptable or able to be dismissed by saying "mistakes happen."  I don't know if anybody watched the video I posted showing the railcar wheelset assembly. 

The idea is that those press fits must not ever fail.  The press fit is subject to a bewildering amount specifications and testing at all levels, including the metalurgy, the press tonnage force, the mirror fine finish on the mating surfaces, the technical lubricant, the ambient temperature, and the interference tolerance down to one ten-thousanth of an inch.  In the video, you can see the the entire process which is fully automatic including the loading of the wheels and axle and the pressing. 

You can also see the automatic calipers measuring the interfering inside and outside diameters before each wheelset pressing.  I suspect there is even more testing that perodically pulls apart an assembly and measures the tonnage of pull resistance.  

But the chance of failure is still an interesting question because anyting is possible.  It would be interesting to know the history of failure due to flawed assmebly of materials as related to railcar wheels, axles, truck frames, bolsters, etc.  I recall that recently, there have been quality problems with wheels that causes them to break.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, March 12, 2023 8:23 AM

mvlandsw
 

 

tree68

Crank pins for the UP Big Boy? 

Erik_Mag
Conversely the hinge pins for the B-1's variable sweep wings was pre-cooled in liquid nitrogen prior to being placed in the wing hinge. 

I think I saw something along that line recently in a railroad context, too. 

Interference fits have been used in manufacturing ever since it was determined that things expand when heated and contract when cooled. Steam engines were a prime instrument of interference fit. The tires that contain the flange on locomotive drivers are heated to expand them so that they can create a tight interference fit when the assembly is cooled to normal temperatures. The interference fit is also why locomotive engineers on steam engines use the independent brake sparingly so the don't heat the tires to a temperature where they expand and have the potential to leave proper alignment on the wheel - it has happened.

Like anything manufactured, mistakes happen, try as the manufacturer might to prevent the mistakes.

Suspect the car builder, buys the assembled wheelsets from a supplier with wheels and bearings already installed and ready to be placed in the truck frames.

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Posted by mvlandsw on Saturday, March 11, 2023 8:52 PM

tree68

Crank pins for the UP Big Boy?

 

 
Erik_Mag
Conversely the hinge pins for the B-1's variable sweep wings was pre-cooled in liquid nitrogen prior to being placed in the wing hinge.

 

I think I saw something along that line recently in a railroad context, too.

 

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Posted by NYC-Ohio on Saturday, March 11, 2023 9:29 AM

FWIW - I know that Steelcar assen=mbled their trucks from parts. No idea though about the actual wheelsets.

Also have seen loads of wheels already mounted on axles being shipped by Trinity, Trinty has flatbeds with rails embedded in the deck to haul these. I have loaded other parts on these flatbeds.

Pretty sure that those wheels are made in the Pittsburg area.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 11, 2023 6:56 AM

tree68
 
Erik_Mag
Conversely the hinge pins for the B-1's variable sweep wings was pre-cooled in liquid nitrogen prior to being placed in the wing hinge. 

I think I saw something along that line recently in a railroad context, too.

Heating and Cooling are both used, on a case by case basis, when it comes to creating interference fits.  In some cases both methods are used - the larger part of the fit gets heated and the smaller part of the fit gets cooled.

Fitting wheel bearings on my race car - I put the aluminum hub in the oven at 500 degrees for a period of time and put the bearing in the freezer for a period of time.  Once time 'expires' the bearing slips right into the hub with no force necessary.  Once the temperatures stabilize at room temperature - the bearing isn't going anywhere.

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, March 11, 2023 6:42 AM

Erik_Mag
Conversely the hinge pins for the B-1's variable sweep wings was pre-cooled in liquid nitrogen prior to being placed in the wing hinge.

I think I saw something along that line recently in a railroad context, too.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, March 11, 2023 12:27 AM

tree68
BaltACD
Driver tires for steam engines where held on by interference fit...

There are videos on-line showing workers heating steam locomotive tires before installing them on the wheels.  I'm sure it was an every day operation at the major steam maintenance shops.

It was also a common operation with some diesel and electric shops where the locomotive wheels were equipped with tires to handle tread/flange wear without having to replace the whole wheel.

Conversely the hinge pins for the B-1's variable sweep wings was pre-cooled in liquid nitrogen prior to being placed in the wing hinge.

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, March 10, 2023 4:06 PM

BaltACD
Driver tires for steam engines where held on by interference fit...

There are videos on-line showing workers heating steam locomotive tires before installing them on the wheels.  I'm sure it was an every day operation at the major steam maintenance shops.

It's still an interference fit, though.

Any reference bringing East Palestine and Springfield together is simply reaching by a news organization, looking for an angle.

LarryWhistling
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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 10, 2023 3:39 PM

caldreamer
I am suprised that the wheels are not welded to the axles which would prevent the wheels from moving in either direction.

The heat of welding would create a lot of distortion to both the axle and the wheel and would require the entire assembly be remachined after welding to get it back to true.  It is unknown to me how the heat stresses of welding would affect the forged metalurgy of both the axles and wheels.

Railroads have used interference fits for any number of connections for approaching two centuries.  Driver tires for steam engines where held on by interference fit - thus using locomotive brakes do control train speed was discouraged as the heat from braking could cause a driver tire to heat up and expand beyond its interference fit.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Friday, March 10, 2023 2:50 PM

If you weld something like a wheel to the axle when both are both fairly roughly finished forged pieces except for the mating surface which is machined.  You take a risk of getting a weak spot on the part that could cause a failure in the parts.  So you risk a bigger problem.  Interference fitment works fine 99.9 percent of the time.  

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Posted by caldreamer on Friday, March 10, 2023 1:48 PM

I am suprised that the wheels are not welded to the axles which would prevent the wheels from moving in either direction.

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Posted by bogie_engineer on Friday, March 10, 2023 1:08 PM

Wheels are mounted by simply pressing them on to the axle. There is a very specific surface finish, and interference range required along with a measure of bore and seat taper. The pressing operation requires a lubricant meeting AAR specs and the tonnage to apply is recorded on a chart during the pressing operation. The tonnage has to increase at a specified slope as the wheel is further engaging the axle. For locomotive wheels, the final tonnage has to be between 95 and 145 tons IIRC. The shop doing the work has to be inspected and approved by AAR showing they can meet all the requirements including the record keeping needed. Axle and wheels are serialized for traceability.

EMD had a problem with wheels moving on the axles on the first batch of SDP40F's for Amtrak on the Santa Fe. After many cab rides, it was found a specific diamond crossing in the SW had bad alignment and the impact at the higher speeds that Amtrak ran was enough to move the wheels slightly. This resulted in increasing the tonnage required to the 95-145 range for the 10.25" bore loco wheels, prior, I believe, the minimum was about 75 tons.

Whichever shop mounted these wheels will be under a lot of scrutiny, rightly so.

Dave

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Posted by adkrr64 on Friday, March 10, 2023 12:51 PM

You picked a fine time to leave me loose wheel.....

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Posted by ns145 on Friday, March 10, 2023 12:00 PM
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Posted by MP173 on Friday, March 10, 2023 11:45 AM

Today's Wall Street Journal (march 10, page 3) has an article indicating that the American Associationof Railroads "issued a rare advisory calling for certain railcars tobe taken out of service and inspected amid concerns that loose wheels might increase the risk of derailments."

If I recall (not going back to check) the Springfield, Oh derailment featured a coil car derailing.

Ed

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 10, 2023 10:05 AM

Euclid
I assume that out-of-gage wheelsets could be found by detectors, but I do not know if that is a practice or if such detectors have been perfected.  An out of gage defect does show that the press fit is out of spec.  But a wheelset that passes the gage test can still have an out of spec press fit.  And the out of spec press fit could be right on the verge of, and progressing to an out of gage condition, but still pass the out of gage test.  Then with that little of margin, the developing press fit defect to drift into an out of gage problem say a week later.  But with an inspection having just been made one week earlier, anther inspection may not be due in time to catch the progressing out of gage condition.
 

The responsibility is on the wheelset manufacturer who will inspect the technical intricacies of the actual press fit.  I do not know if this fit is expected to loosen over time and use.  The same question would apply to testing for developing cracks in truck frames, bolsters, etc.  But with a certain level of robustness and metaugical perfection, they may just assume the parts are built to last for their lifetime of use.  

I assume the loose wheel condtion found by NS was done by just visual inspection in cleaning up the derailment.  The first indication of being out of gage would present the inner wheel hub being too far from the shoulder of the the axle.  There would be a gap between the wheel hub and the axle shoulder.  

The inspection of the wheelsets sound have been warranted by the manufacturer.  

Derailments that I have personally been involved with, either wreck clearance or cause investigation, from my personal observations is that the wheel/axle combination is rarely 'damaged' (bent or broken).  With that being the case, it becomes almost too easy to see when a wheel was not properly 'set' on its corresponding axle - the wheel will have moved and will leave witness marks on the axle detailing its move from its installed position on the axle to its current position on the axle.

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