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TREAD-BRAKED wheels have been used since the very beginning of railway traffic. UIC 510-51 defines the acceptable requirements for a tread-braked wheel suitable for European traffic.
These requirements correspond to the very hard braking conditions of the South slope of the St. Gotthardt Pass in Switzerland, assuming a drag braking downhill, where a constant velocity of 60km/h must be constantly maintained for 45 minutes. This situation induces a thermal load corresponding to 50kW2 at the contact surface between brake block and wheel tread and can generate high stresses in the rim. Special wheel designs are developed to keep these values within the standard limits. In order to be able to resist these stresses, as well as to keep lateral displacements of the rim within certain limits that respect the required gauge, tread-braked wheels must have a special rim shape that keeps stresses and displacements as low as possible. Therefore, these kinds of wheels are usually referred to as ‘low stress wheels’.
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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