Wear reduction performance of rail flange lubrication
Abstract: Rail and rail wheel flange wear on the rail track has been a problem of attention for the last 30 years. The problems arise in curves and depend on increased traffic volume, heavier axle load and also higher speed. Axle loads of 22,5-25 ton is common nowadays and the trend is towards heavier axle loads where the next step is 30-35 ton. Flange wear includes both wheel and rail flanges and is therefore a problem for the operating company as well as the infrastructure owner. The flange wear depend mainly on the number of passed axles, type of traffic, speed and curve radius but also the axle load contributes. Flange lubrication on high rail is a well known way to reduce wear since the middle of 70th and a number of techniques to lubricate the rail flange are developed as grease, aerosol of oil and dry stick with solid lubricants. The trackside lubricator can not apply the grease on the rail flange when the climate is during the winter. The infrastructure owner in Sweden was interested to evaluate the effectiveness of the track side lubricator. The investment in trackside lubricators over 20 years was about 75 Mkr (7,6 USD) and also an additional yearly costs to operate 3000 apparatuses. The work to evaluate effectiveness of the lubrication started 1997 there one of the important matter concern the possibility to use environmentally adapted lubricants without hazard the rail. This licentiate thesis concern effectiveness of trackside lubricators to reduce wear in sharp railroad curves. Also the environmentally aspects have been considered and therefore natural esters synthetic esters and additives suited for those kind of lubricants have been evaluated. The research proved that environmentally adapted lubricants could lubricate as good as earlier used greases. Some amount of metal removal is probably healthy for this kind of application. Lubricants as synthetic esters can be designed get those qualities. It was also found significant difference between the seasons concerning flange wear. This difference depends on the problem to apply grease on the rail flange during the winter.
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