Performance measurements of rail curve lubricants

Wilson, Lance Jon (2006) Performance measurements of rail curve lubricants. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Wear of railroad rolling stock and rails costs millions of dollars annually in all rail systems throughout the world. The rail industry has attempted to address flange wear using rail curve lubricants and presently use a variety of lubricants and lubricant applicators. The choice of lubricant and applicator is currently based on considerations that do not address the wear problem directly.

This research quantified rail curve lubricant performance through laboratory simulation. The effects of lubricants in the wheel/rail contact were investigated. Rail curve lubricant performance was measured with a laboratory rail/wheel simulator for the purpose of optimising the choice of lubricant.

New methods for measurement of rail curve lubricant performance have been presented. These performance measurements are total absorbed energy, the energy absorbed in the lubricant film instead of being utilised for wear processes; total distance slid, the sliding distance or accumulated strain achieved prior to development of a set tractive force limit; half life of lubricant, the time taken for a lubricant to lose half of its sliding performance; and apparent viscosity, a measure of the lubricity presented with respect to accumulated strain.

The rail/wheel simulator used in this research consists of two dissimilar wheels (disks) rotating in contact with one another simulating a conformal gauge corner contact. The first wheel, a simulated rail, is driven by an electric motor which then drives the second wheel, a simulated railroad wheel, through the contact. Hydraulic braking on the railroad wheel is used to simulate the rolling/sliding conditions.

The variables of the simulated contact that are controlled with this equipment are normal force, input wheel speed, slip ratio between samples, sample geometries and material properties, and lubricant types.

Rail curve lubricants were laboratory tested to define their properties using the ASTM and other appropriate standards. The performance differences measured using ASTM standards based tests were susceptible to repeatability problems and did not represent the contact as accurately as the rail/wheel simulator. This laboratory simulator was used to gather data in lubricated and unlubricated conditions for the purpose of providing lubricant performance measurements. These measurements were presented and the tested lubricants were ranked conclusively using three industrially relevant performance criteria.

Total sliding distance and total absorbed energy measurements of the rail curve lubricants displayed clear differences in lubricant performance for both of these criteria. Total sliding distance is equivalent to the number of axles in the field situation, while total absorbed energy is the energy unavailable for wear processes of rails and wheels. Lubricants designed using these measurements will increase lubricant performance with respect to these performance criteria which in turn will reduce wear to both rails and wheels.

Measurement of the apparent viscosity of rail curve lubricants, using the rail/wheel simulator, displayed changes in rheological characteristics with respect to accumulated strain. Apparent viscosity is a measure of the shear stress transmitted from the wheels to the rails. Designing a rail curve lubricant after analysing measurements taken from the rail/wheel simulator will assist in identifying lubricant properties to reduce the wear producing shear stresses generated in a rail wheel contact.

Decay of lubricant performance was measured for three different rail curve lubricants under simulated conditions. The research found appreciable and quantifiable differences between lubricants. Industrial application of the findings will improve positioning of lubrication systems, improve choice of lubricants and predict effective lubrication distance from the lubricant application point.

Using the new methods of lubricant performance measurement developed in this thesis, the objective of this research, to quantify rail curve lubricant performance through laboratory simulation, has been achieved.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

3,209 since deposited on 03 Dec 2008
153 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 16344
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hargreaves, Douglas, Clegg, Richard, & Powell, John
Keywords: rail curve, lubricant performance, elastohydrodynamic lubrication, rheology, absorbed energy, lubricating grease, rail/wheel interface
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Lance Jon Wilson
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:01
Last Modified: 14 May 2013 06:53

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page