Fracture of a Train Wheel Due to Thermally Induced Fatigue and Residual Stress
An ASTM A 504 carbon steel railway car wheel that was used on a train in a metropolitan railway system failed during service, causing derailment. The wheel was completely fractured from rim to hub. Macrofractography of the fracture surface showed road grime, indicating that the crack had existed for a considerable time prior to derailment and initiated in the flange. Failure propagated from the flange across the rim and down the plate to the bore of the hub. Two zones that exhibited definite signs of heating were observed. The fracture initiation site was typical of fatigue fracture. No defects were found that could have contributed to failure. The wheel conformed to the chemical, microstructural, and hardness requirements for class A wheels. Failure was attributed to repeated severe heating and cooling of the rim and flange due to brake locking or misapplication of the hand brake. It was recommended that the brake system on the car be examined and replaced if necessary.