Re: Wheels

Rick <oscaletrains@...>

Edited for spelling...

I think it is pertinent because just as Dennis pointed out, there
are foundry processes that make perfect sense once they are
explained to us non foundry knowledgeable people. At this point in
time, I have to agree with Pat that it seems wholly unlikely that
the brackets on the plates of cast iron wheels supporting the flange
ever had "intentionally" anything to do with "cooling". Whether
they actually did help to "cool" anything in the process of use, is
a whole other argument.

It's obvious that the AAR was weeding out cast iron wheels from the
scene over time. They still "weed out" today, but it's amazing that
cast iron wheels were still in use to some extent into the

As we speak, they have started the removal of all 36" CH class
wheels that have "SOUTHERN" cast on the plates. All of those wheels
manufactured in 1995 became unusable earlier this year, and 1980,
1989, and 1993 years will probably become history by the end of this

Rant on...

Railroad wheelsets are a HUGE expense for car owners in the railroad
industry. The Class 1 railroads themselves, as they make the
transition from BEING a real "railroad" into being only slightly
more than "long haul freight movers" of other peoples cars, are in
active search of the "perfect" wheelsets in order to stop wheel and
axle failures now. They want to, and have been for a couple years
now, jacking up the weight capacities of cars, cars that are riding
on wheels and axles that were designed and engineered in the 1940's
that were NEVER designed to support the kinds of weights the
railroads are hauling on them, especially in coal service...thus,
overloading the cars and putting more stress on the components than
they were ever designed to handle. This has lead to increasing
failures of materials and derailments caused by broken wheels and
axles. The funny, and sad, thing about it is, do the railroads think
the answer is to stop overloading the cars components? No, the more
material you can get in each individual car, the more money you can
make hauling it I guess. Do they think the answer is to replace the
1940's designed materials with heavier and better designed
components? Yes, of course, BUT, that costs LOTS and LOTS of money
AND the material is simply not available in quantity anyway, at any
cost, so it will have to happen over time. But, in the meantime, the
answer has become, led by the UP, to institute new rules through the
AAR which greatly tighten up the number and types of small defects
that are allowed in the wheels and axles. Sounds like a great idea,
except, it causes LOTS of wheels and axles to simply become scrap
because they cannot be remanufactured to meet the new criteria, thus
costing the car owners lots of money to replace the material with
new AND costing wheel shops lots of money because they have to spend
much more time and expense working on the material to try to make it
almost "perfect", and scrapping much material in the process, and
they are caught holding the bill for it...of course, since the
railroads have been getting out of the car owning business for some
time now, that hit in cash goes to someone else so they really don't
care. They also don't care that IF the material was used as it was
intended when it was designed in the 1940's, it would last a very
long time in service, but when you greatly increase the stress on it
by carrying more weight, even small defects quickly become
catastrophic failures...and their answer to this...using the ARR
rules, scrap more and more of other peoples material that WOULD be
good if used correctly, but they intend to not use it as it was
designed, so, it must be almost "perfect" for reuse, and if it is
not, it is scrap. And that costs a bunch of money. Who it hurts the
most are car owners like TTX, because their cars are almost never
loaded heavily, but their wheels and axles are still now subject to
the new rules that scrap a lot of material that would otherwise be
perfectly fine under "normal" use.

Add to that the recent UP's going after the model railroading
industry for the supposed copyright thing, and it starts to paint a
whole other picture of some of the railroads we, as modelers, tend
to otherwise "admire".

Frankly, if I had any UP lettered model equipment, I'd sell it or
throw it away at this point in time.

Rant off...

--- In STMFC@..., "bierglaeser" <bierglaeser@y...> wrote:

Here's a little information I acquired that is neither intended to
support nor refute anything anyone else has had to say on this

A few years back I spent a day at the foundryman's library (exact
title forgotten) in Des Plaines, Illinois researching casting
processes. My interest was in malleable castings but what I have
say here applies to other types as well.

When molten iron is poured into a mold the iron begins to cool
as more molten iron is being added. In the case of round things -
hand brake wheels was my interest and this may or may not apply to
wheels - the rim is cooler than the hub throughout the cooling
process. As the metal cools it passes through some temperature
ranges wherein the metal contracts and other temperature ranges
wherein it expands. (I can provide those exact temperature ranges
and the sequence of expansion and contraction if someone really

Speaking now only of hand brake wheels and similar items such as
pulleys and flywheels, there are points during the cooling process
where the rim is expanding while the hub and spokes are
and visa versa. Curved parts help accommodate these conflicting
movements through slight deformation rather than cracking.

All this may not have a darn thing to do with freight car wheels
but ...

Gene Green
Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso

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