This paper presents a qualitative discussion of the effects of increasing new (initial) wheel-rail contact stresses on the degree of damage to the rail due to heavy axle loads. The importance and need of heavy axle loads and its relationship to rail damage as a result of the increasing wheel-rail contact stresses is discussed. Various mechanisms of energy absorption/losses due to free rolling and modes of rail damage are presented. These modes include surface and internal damage due to wear, contact shear, plasticity, fatigue, shelling, crack formation, etc. The concept of threshold stress observed in free rolling friction much earlier by Drutowski is discussed and analyzed. It is believed by the authors that the threshold stress is s material property. This concept of threshold stress, based on sharply increased rates of wear in free rolling contact, is then presented and analyzed. Considerations of increased plasticity-region development, due to increasing contact stresses and their relationship to increased rates of wear seen in experiments, is utilized to determine an upper bound of contact stresses for new wheel and rail under heavy axle load conditions. It is indicated that new wheel-rail profiles, which will achieve contact stresses below the threshold stress, will enable the U.S. railroads to carry heavy axle loads without serious future damage to the rails. It is concluded that a satisfactory solution for maintaining rail integrity under heavy axle loads is possible with proper design accompanied with laboratory experimentation for the new steels as they may be used in the rails.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.