Wheel tread spalling is the main source of damage to wheel treads and a primary cause for wheel removals from service. Severe frictional heating of the wheel-rail contact patch during sliding causes the formation of martensite, a hard, brittle microstructure. The martensite patches break away from the more resilient bulk of the wheel tread when subjected to contact loads, resulting in spall formation. Prolonged sliding allows a greater volume of wheel tread material to reach extremely high temperatures, which will lead to material ablation and the formation of a slid flat. Such flats are the cause of wheel impact loads, which are extremely damaging to truck components and rail. This paper outlines an approach developed to estimate the effects of sliding on wheel flat formation and the potential severity of spalling. The methodology is described and preliminary results are presented using an intentionally simplified idealization of the wheel-rail contact geometry. Material characterization (temperature-dependent properties and failure criteria) and management of model size are of equal importance to geometric fidelity and are the focus in the early stages of the development of the qualitative model present here.

ABAQUS/Standard User’s Manual (version 6.4-1). ABAQUS, Inc., Warwick, RI, 2003.
Kuhlman, C., Sehitoglu, H., and Gallagher, M., “The Significance of Material Properties on Stresses developed during quenching of Railroad Wheels,” Proc. Joint ASME/IEEE Railroad Conference, April, 1998, pp. 55–63
Johnson, G.R., and Cook, W.H., “A Constitutive Model and Data for Metals Subjected to Large Strains, High Strain Rates, and High Temperatures,” Proc. Seventh International Symposium on Ballistics, The Hague, The Netherlands, pp. 541–548, April, 1983.
Gordon, J.E. Perlman, A.B. “Estimation of Residual Stresses in Railroad Commuter Car Wheels Following Manufacture.” Volpe National Systems Center Report to the Federal Railroad Administration. Report no. DOT/FRA/ORD-03/24. June, 2003
Gordon, J.E. and Orringer, O. “Investigation of the effects of Braking System Configurations on Thermal Input to Commuter Car Wheels.” Volpe National Transportation Systems Center Report to the Federal Railroad Administration. Report no. DOT/FRA/ORD-96/01. 1996.
This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.