Ribbed Back Wheels


Paul Hillman
 

A few days ago there was a discussion about the purpose of ribbed back wheels, and the answer was the "ribs" were there for cooling during forming - casting of the iron wheels. But, when did we see ribbed-backed wheels disappear from the rails? Apparently the "ribs" went away with the use of steel in wheel making.

 

So, what time period is proper for using ribbed-back wheels? Was there some RR "rule" condemning them?

 

Paul Hillman


John Sykes III
 

Ribbed back, or more properly, chilled iron wheels were very popular with the railroads because of their low initial cost.  However, since they could not be turned if flat-spotted, they proved to be more expensive in the long run.  Some railroads, such as the PRR began replacing them with forged steel wheels as early as the1930's.  However, it wasn't until 1958 that the AAR forbade them on newly constructed cars.  Manufacturing ceased a few years later.  They were banned from interchange in 1968; however, many railroads continued to use them on house cars until no longer available.


Much of the above information is from John H. White's, "The American Passenger Car".


-- John


John Sykes III
 

Missed it on the proof reading.  Should be:  John H. White's, "The American Railroad Passenger Car" (specifically Volume II).  Sorry.


-- John


Tony Thompson
 

Paul Hillman wrote:

A few days ago there was a discussion about the purpose of ribbed back wheels, and the answer was the "ribs" were there for cooling during forming - casting of the iron wheels. But, when did we see ribbed-backed wheels disappear from the rails? Apparently the "ribs" went away with the use of steel in wheel making.

    Not sure what discussion you reference. But it is simply NOT true that the ribs had anything to do with cooling. They are there to strengthen AND stiffen the wheel. Later analysis showed that the effect is not large, so simple wheel plate shapes have been used ever since. The casting process can be used to make either kind of wheel, whether the wheel is cast iron or cast steel, so the ribs have nothing to do with whether they are iron or steel.
     Chilled iron wheels are cast with chills at the wheel tread to improve performance of that area. That process has nothing whatever to do with ribs. Railroads realized as early as 1930 that steel wheels provided better durability, but also cost more, and moreover were often in short supply. Especially after World War II, railroads placing orders for new cars with wrought steel wheels had to accept part or all of the order with cast wheels, because production of wrought wheels could not keep up.
     My basis for this is not only my professional experience in both academic and industrial metallurgy, but my multi-year experience on the AAR Research Committee, involved in research on materials for both rail and wheels, including meetings at the AAR Research Facility near Pueblo, Colorado (now the Transportation Technology Center). Believe me, we covered wheel production and wheel materials to exhaustion.

Tony Thompson
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937;
e-mail: tony@...


Robert kirkham
 

Tony, I take it this also explains the existence of cast iron wheels without ribs – i.e. ribs weren’t necessary?
 
Rob Kirkham 
 

Sent: Sunday, May 4, 2014 10:22 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Ribbed Back Wheels
 


Paul Hillman wrote:
 
A few days ago there was a discussion about the purpose of ribbed back wheels, and the answer was the "ribs" were there for cooling during forming - casting of the iron wheels. But, when did we see ribbed-backed wheels disappear from the rails? Apparently the "ribs" went away with the use of steel in wheel making.

    Not sure what discussion you reference. But it is simply NOT true that the ribs had anything to do with cooling. They are there to strengthen AND stiffen the wheel. Later analysis showed that the effect is not large, so simple wheel plate shapes have been used ever since. The casting process can be used to make either kind of wheel, whether the wheel is cast iron or cast steel, so the ribs have nothing to do with whether they are iron or steel.
     Chilled iron wheels are cast with chills at the wheel tread to improve performance of that area. That process has nothing whatever to do with ribs. Railroads realized as early as 1930 that steel wheels provided better durability, but also cost more, and moreover were often in short supply. Especially after World War II, railroads placing orders for new cars with wrought steel wheels had to accept part or all of the order with cast wheels, because production of wrought wheels could not keep up.
     My basis for this is not only my professional experience in both academic and industrial metallurgy, but my multi-year experience on the AAR Research Committee, involved in research on materials for both rail and wheels, including meetings at the AAR Research Facility near Pueblo, Colorado (now the Transportation Technology Center). Believe me, we covered wheel production and wheel materials to exhaustion.

Tony Thompson
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937;
e-mail: tony@...


Tony Thompson
 

Rob Kirkham wrote:

Tony, I take it this also explains the existence of cast iron wheels without ribs – i.e. ribs weren’t necessary?

       Exactly.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history





Paul Hillman
 

Sorry Tony about not telling the strengthening part about the ribbed wheels as I remember discussed. But John Sykes input about their AAR 1968 cut-off date in interchange would mean that in 1950 (my modeling period) there must have been a pretty good mix of ribbed & flat-back wheels.
 
Thanks all, Paul Hillman
 
 
 

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2014 12:22 AM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Ribbed Back Wheels

 

Paul Hillman wrote:

A few days ago there was a discussion about the purpose of ribbed back wheels, and the answer was the "ribs" were there for cooling during forming - casting of the iron wheels. But, when did we see ribbed-backed wheels disappear from the rails? Apparently the "ribs" went away with the use of steel in wheel making.

    Not sure what discussion you reference. But it is simply NOT true that the ribs had anything to do with cooling. They are there to strengthen AND stiffen the wheel. Later analysis showed that the effect is not large, so simple wheel plate shapes have been used ever since. The casting process can be used to make either kind of wheel, whether the wheel is cast iron or cast steel, so the ribs have nothing to do with whether they are iron or steel.
     Chilled iron wheels are cast with chills at the wheel tread to improve performance of that area. That process has nothing whatever to do with ribs. Railroads realized as early as 1930 that steel wheels provided better durability, but also cost more, and moreover were often in short supply. Especially after World War II, railroads placing orders for new cars with wrought steel wheels had to accept part or all of the order with cast wheels, because production of wrought wheels could not keep up.
     My basis for this is not only my professional experience in both academic and industrial metallurgy, but my multi-year experience on the AAR Research Committee, involved in research on materials for both rail and wheels, including meetings at the AAR Research Facility near Pueblo, Colorado (now the Transportation Technology Center). Believe me, we covered wheel production and wheel materials to exhaustion.

Tony Thompson
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937;
e-mail: tony@...