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Proceedings Paper

Thermal stress measurement in continuous welded rails using the hole-drilling method
Author(s): Xuan Zhu; Francesco Lanza di Scalea; Mahmood Fateh
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Paper Abstract

The absence of expansion joints in Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) has created the need for the railroad industry to determine the in-situ level of thermal stresses so as to prevent train accidents caused by rail buckling in hot weather and by rail breakage in cold weather. The development of non-destructive or semi-destructive methods for determining the level of thermal stresses in rails is today a high research priority. This study explores the known hole-drilling method as a possible solution to this problem. A new set of calibration coefficients to compute the relieved stress field with the finer hole depth increments was determined by a 3D Finite Element Analysis that modeled the entire hole geometry, including the mechanics of the hole bottom and walls. To compensate the residual stress components, a linear relationship was experimentally established between the longitudinal and the vertical residual stresses of two common sizes of rails, the 136RE and the 141RE, with statistical significance. This result was then utilized to isolate the longitudinal thermal stress component in hole-drilling tests conducted on the 136RE and 141RE thermally-loaded rails at the Large-scale CWR Test-bed of UCSD’s Powell Research Laboratories. The results from the Test-bed showed that the hole-drilling procedure, with the appropriate residual stress compensation, can indeed estimate the in-situ thermal stresses to achieve a ±5°F accuracy of Neutral Temperature determination with a 90% statistical confidence, which is the desired industry gold standard.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 April 2016
PDF: 16 pages
Proc. SPIE 9803, Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2016, 98031C (20 April 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2218664
Show Author Affiliations
Xuan Zhu, Univ. of California, San Diego (United States)
Francesco Lanza di Scalea, Univ. of California, San Diego (United States)
Mahmood Fateh, Federal Railroad Administration (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9803:
Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2016
Jerome P. Lynch, Editor(s)

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