Plasma Treatment of Railway Rails to Improve Traction

[+] Author and Article Information
F. E. Gifford

Research Laboratories, General Motors Corporation, Warren, Mich.

R. T. Yoshino

Electro-Motive Division, General Motors Corporation, La Grange, Ill.

J. Eng. Ind 93(3), 867-872 (Aug 01, 1971) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3428029 History: Received August 03, 1970; Online July 15, 2010


Plasma torch treatments of track rails to improve locomotive wheel traction were investigated as a potential substitute for rail sanding. Rolling friction tests were conducted under simulated rail-wheel load conditions at about 200,000 psi contact stress. Although traction was improved significantly in laboratory tests, total power required to significantly improve the coefficient of friction for a diesel electric operation at low speeds appears excessive. Power required at 80 mph is prohibitive. Moreover, safety, maintenance, and mechanical aspects require a considerable amount of further development before such an application can be considered possible on American railroads.

Copyright © 1971 by ASME
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