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Thread: Wheel flange lubrication systems

  1. #1
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    Default Wheel flange lubrication systems

    In the process of researching some of the many rebuilds going on, I kept noticing a strange added part located near the rear inner wheels on the trucks of the EMD locomotives (nearest the fuel tanks). The part sticks out at an angle and looks like a bar with a pin on the end. On CSX rebuilds they are white and can't be missed, BNSF and others seem painted and are easy to miss.

    The parts were added to the models I've been building, but I had no clue as to what they were. Come to find out they are part of a wheel flange lubrication system (solid) to reduce wear. Not sure if they save the wheels, rails, or both though.
    Last edited by crazytrain; June 9th, 2019 at 11:15 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazytrain View Post
    In the process of researching some of the many rebuilds going on, I kept noticing a strange added part located near the rear inner wheels on the trucks of the EMD locomotives (nearest the fuel tanks). The part sticks out at an angle and looks like a bar with a pin on the end. On CSX rebuilds they are white and can't be missed, BNSF and others seem painted and are easy to miss.

    The parts were added to the models I've been building, but I had no clue as to what they were. Come to find out they are part of a wheel flange lubrication system (solid) to reduce wear. Not sure if they save the wheels, rails, or both though.

    Interesting theme.


    4 or 5 years ago on one of my trips to the abandoned line of the Spanish "Ruta de la Plata", I found some wheel oilers on the tracks; they consisted of a circular tank between the rails, some tubes to the internal part of them and a cam that had to be pressed to the passage of the train acting on the deposit previously mentioned.

    They were located in an area of ​​strong ramps and curves and its time should have been between 1910 to 1960, in the steam era.
    I may be wrong but I think that being in the woods, its function was to reduce the friction and heat of the wheels to avoid sparks and fires.

    regards

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    Don't know about systems on trains but I do recall seeing an on-track system in one of Danny Harmon's video's. He made quite a deal about it as he got grease/oil all over himself. Sorry, don't remember which one. Consider watching them if you've not done so as they are very interesting, informative, and very well done. Great photography. Great information. Worth viewing all of them in my opinion. (Mostly about railfanning in Florida/Georgia)

    Danny Harmon's "Distant Signal" videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/distantsignal/videos
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    I'll have to check some of those videos out Mac. Look like some informative stuff.

    The lubricators must work or otherwise the railroads wouldn't bother with them, I suppose. Remember seeing a video a while back (like a sales pitch) about the solid lubricators, but it didn't register as to what they might be until the research. Wish I could find it again.

    *Edit* Found this, but not the same one:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D1acc2YPF4
    Last edited by crazytrain; June 10th, 2019 at 10:17 AM.
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    I have seen these devices as well between the tracks. There was one located on a very sharp curve located on a wye at Lowell, Jct. in Andover, MA, but a recent look on Google Earth shows it's missing, which makes me think that perhaps these are now located on the locomotive and not next to the tracks.
    Last edited by JCitron; June 10th, 2019 at 10:57 AM.
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    Could very well be. The interesting part of that video clearly shows the lubricator on a GE radial truck, which are supposed to reduce wear anyways.

    The rails are curved on the top, the wheels aren't completely flat and the flanges aren't placed exactly at 1435mm. The wheels cradle on the rail head with the flanges not even touching the rails on a straight. Curves are a different story of course. When you start talking about 100+ car trains with only a small percentage of the wheels lubricated, that points to locomotive wheel wear only, although I may be missing something with the lubricators leaving residue for the trailing train's wheels as well. And then there's the question of traction for the locos. Two systems working against each other.

    Real life slippery slope.
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    I am almost certain that the lubrication in place on the track is for the inner rail surface. Not to lubricate the wheels. Don't know about the lubricators on the engine.

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    Yeah, they are called flange lubricators. May be wrong there, just like assuming that all railroad wheels aren't flat.

    https://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2018/news20180606
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    Here you have the two oilers; I suspect it's was missing pieces.


    regards












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    Quote Originally Posted by crazytrain View Post
    Yeah, they are called flange lubricators. May be wrong there, just like assuming that all railroad wheels aren't flat.

    https://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2018/news20180606


    In normal operation on major American railroads, the wheel flanges do not contact the inside rail surface. On curves, the inner or outer wheel flanges can come in contact with an inner rail surface. Which surface depends on the degree of the track curve and the speed, and the number of cars. The lubricators are placed on curves. I guess you could argue semantics whether they are lubricating the track or the wheel flanges.

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    No arguing here. To have friction you have to have two surfaces and both get the lubrication. Since there are only two rails and a gazillion flanges, kinda leaning toward saving the rails more than flanges.

    Either way, it's an interesting subject in it's own right. Rail/flange wear with jointed rail, as opposed to welded rail, must have been enormous.
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    Squealing trolleys. There are track greasers before the curve, but even still the wheels make that squealing sound which is ubiquitous to these trolleys so no greasing system helps here!

    https://youtu.be/StCtK8X3o1I

    Boston MBTA Green Line trolleys pulling into Boylston Street from Tremont Street. This is one of the tightest curves of any system in the oldest subway in the US. The street cars were moved from the street and put underground and follow the same route they did when they were above ground and need to turn from Boylston Street on to Tremont Street on their way to the famous Park Street (aka Pahk Street as they say there). The curve has a 5 mph speed restriction, and when Breda Type 9's were introduced, they derailed because of bogie issues, and got stuck in the tunnel causing quite a bit of damage not only to the tunnel but also to the trolleys. Breda then had to retrofit the then new trolleys with some different trucks leading to a long delay when introducing these cars to the system.
    Last edited by JCitron; June 10th, 2019 at 06:20 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazytrain View Post
    No arguing here. To have friction you have to have two surfaces and both get the lubrication. Since there are only two rails and a gazillion flanges, kinda leaning toward saving the rails more than flanges.

    Either way, it's an interesting subject in it's own right. Rail/flange wear with jointed rail, as opposed to welded rail, must have been enormous.


    Yes, they are to decrease rail wear. With jointed rail, the two ends wear down faster than the adjacent track. The wheels going over the little depression then cause noise, physical shock to the rail and potential stress fracturing, and over a long period affect the wheels as well. The stay bolts can also loosen, of course.

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    When I was at the old South Ferry subway station about 20 years ago, the number 5 train made a lot of noises as it went around the inner loop. Some people covered their ears.

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