Thermal cracking of a railway wheel tread due to tread braking – critical crack sizes and influence of repeated thermal cycles
Paper in proceedings, 2011

A numerical study of tread cracking due to thermal loading induced by block braking is carried out. The analysis features a computationally efficient approach combining 2D FE-simulations with an analytical evaluation of resulting stress intensity factors. The analysis identifies critical sizes for when existing surface cracks are prone to propagate under thermal loading and resulting crack lengths after propagation. The results imply that fully functional brake systems are not likely to induce thermal crack propagation under normal stop braking, but that with pre-existing defects a severe drag braking due to malfunctioning brakes may cause very deep cracking. Further the analysis concludes the cracking to be a static phenomenon related to the most severe brake cycle, i.e. later brake cycles of similar or lower severity will not cause any significant propagation of existing cracks. Finally it should be noted that preliminary FE-simulations that have been performed indicate the presented results to be conservative.


Sara Caprioli


Tore V Vernersson


Anders Ekberg


International Heavy Haul Association Special Technical Session (IHHA STS 2011)


Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Materials Science

Subject Categories

Applied Mechanics

Reliability and Maintenance

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