1907 - Steel vs. Cast Car Wheels

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Mon Nov 26 21:17:49 EST 2007

Roanoke Times - November 27, 1907


The recent accident on the Norfolk & Western between Roanoke and
Lynchburg, in which the flange on a coal car broke and precipitated
the car against a passenger train, side-swiping the passenger coach
and producing a destructive wreck, affords a subject for an editorial
in a recent issue of the Railway Age, on the relative merits of cast
and steel car wheels. Its says:
"Another illustration of the importance of making freight cars
safe and maintaining them carefully was given in the accident on the
Norfolk and Western, near Roanoke, Va., on October 12. A freight
train and passenger train were passing in opposite directions when a
broken flange threw a coal car against the passenger train,
demolishing three passenger cars; 25 coal cars were badly damaged,
one person was killed and some others were injured. Weak flanges on
cast-iron wheels are becoming a frequent source of danger, so much so
that the manufacture of solid steel wheels for freight service is
growing rapidly, and they are being ordered by the thousands. The
increase in the size of the flange of cast wheels should improve
conditions to a slight degree, but not too much should be expected
from it. M. C. B. Rule, No. 10 requires the renewal of wheels under
cars of 80,000 pounds capacity or over when the flange and the flat,
vertical surface extends more than seven-eighths of an inch from the
tread or it the flange is less than one and one-sixteenth inches
thick, and steel-tired wheels are condemned if the flange is less
than one inch thick. There is a strange inconsistency in assuming
that a cast flange one and one-sixteenth inches thick is equivalent
to a steel flange one inch thick, while it is well known that the
tensile resistance of the two metals is about one to four and that
the shearing resistances have about the same ratio. The Purdue tests
made to show the strength of the flanges of cast-iron wheels showed
the resistance of three wheels which had been eight months in service
to be 60,000 pounds and that of new wheels with the large flange
103,000 pounds. The normal strength of cast flanges may be taken at
70,000 pounds. The experiments made by George L. Fowler on the
strengths of flanges of steel wheels showed them to have a shearing
resistance of 526,000 pounds.


- Ron Davis, Roger Link

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