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Rail News Home Mechanical

May 2022

Rail News: Mechanical

Technology update: Rail wheels, axles, brakes and bearings

Amsted Rail’s® BRENCO® Tru-Guard® Bearing Seal features “a pure labyrinth design that eliminates rubbing lips,” company officials said in an email.
Photo – Amsted Rail®


Compiled by Michael Popke

Amsted Rail® 

Amsted Rail’s® BRENCO® Tru-Guard®  Bearing Seal features “a pure labyrinth design that eliminates rubbing lips,” company officials said in an email. The seal provides 1 foot-pound or less of torque per bearing in service and with no friction, and it “adds zero-heat to the bearing system to maintain consistently low bearing temperatures, and provides significant fuel savings,” Amsted officials added.  

With the Tru-Guard design, positive grease retention is achieved through an “insert and rotor” concept: The rotating rotor slings grease back inside the grease reservoir before it can enter the seal’s “thin-gap labyrinth,” officials said. Meanwhile, a “slinger/shroud” concept is designed to prevent ingress by slinging water spray and contaminants out. 

The Tru-Guard fits a range of Amsted Rail’s bearing sizes, including Class-K, Class-F, Class-E, Ausbrid Plus® (Short-G) and MEGA-TONNE®. 

Knorr Brake Co. 

Engineered by Knorr Brake Co. and New York Air Brake Corp., The EE-26™ brake system for passenger-rail cars is built to handle both pneumatic and electropneumatic braking system control.
Knorr Brake Co.

The EE-26™ brake system for passenger-rail cars — engineered by Knorr Brake Co. and New York Air Brake Corp. — is built to handle both pneumatic and electropneumatic braking system control.  

In a traditional, purely pneumatic system, individual passenger-car brakes are activated via air pressure changes through a control pipe running the length of a train. In an electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) system, the brakes respond to electronic signals sent from the locomotive. ECP systems add to the safety and train-level performance enhancements of greater signal speed; deliver real-time diagnostics and alerts to operators and maintenance staff; and provide improved train handling and decreased maintenance downtime,    Knorr Brake officials said.  

With a recommended 10-year valve overhaul period, the EE-26 system features a panel-mounted modular design valve approach aimed at saving space and making installation easier for car manufacturers. It also provides more accessible maintenance over existing traditional pipe-mounted equipment, company officials said. The EE-26’s integrated diagnostics and vehicle networking enables rapid problem identification for quicker repairs, and detailed data helps expedite routine maintenance, overhaul and replacement planning, officials said. 

Designed for APTA-compliant interoperability with vehicles that have legacy brake control valves, the EE-26 enables railroads to gradually transition to ECP without forcing fleetwide upgrades. A second EE-26 variation, the EP 60/26™ brake system, is also available. 

New York Air Brake Corp. 

The BMB-60 body-mounted brake’s “open” design makes it easier to inspect, access and verify piston stroke on a car, saving time and simplifying maintenance, company officials said.
New York Air Brake Corp.

New York Air Brake Corp. offers the BMB-60 body-mounted brake, which is “engineered to be rugged, reliable and less expensive to own,” company officials said.  

Rigorous vibration testing has demonstrated that sand casting (versus welded fabrication) makes the cylinder body stronger and provides superior performance and longevity, NYAB officials added. The slack adjuster incorporates a friction clutch designed to provide precise slack adjustment between brake applications and extend brake shoe life.  

The BMB-60 can be ordered with nine- and 10-inch brake cylinders and has three lever ratios that match to a freight car, NYAB officials said. Interchangeable with truck-mounted brake systems, the BMB-60 features standard rods and levers for hand brake connections. NYAB also offers the TMB-60 truck-mounted option.  

Penn Machine Co. LLC 

Penn Machine Co. LLC’s offerings include (from top to bottom) solid wheels, standard axles and resilient wheels.
Penn machine co.

Penn Machine Co. LLC, a Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway company, has been supplying the rail industry with OEM and aftermarket solid wheels, resilient wheels and axles for more than 100 years. 

Penn Machine sells solid forged-steel wheels in a variety of models, including S plate, straight plate, stress-balanced, tangential corrugated, vibration-optimized, arch-shaped single or multiple, tired and lighter weight. The wheels are AAR-certified and meet APTA standards; they’re also heat-treated, water-spray quenched, tempered and ultrasonically inspected to prevent fracture in demanding applications, company officials said. Finite element analysis is performed to ensure design verification and that all stress and load specifications are met. 

The company’s Resilient Wheels feature an elastic layer, comprising rubber blocks or ring elements between the steel tire and the wheel center. Matched elasticity and damping properties are designed to improve ride quality, reduce noise and vibration and lengthen operating life. Independently rotating wheels to the axle shaft via external current conductors provide the required conductive continuity, and the divided wheel body facilitates easy dismantling and refitting of the wheel tire. 

The company also manufactures standard and low-floor axles that meet AAR and UIC standards. Penn Machine is the only U.S. company with an in-house heat-treating facility to sub-critically quench axles vertically, which produces less distortion and stress in the axle, company officials said.  

Wabtec Corp. 

Shown: the ABDX-CMHW Control Valve with ABX Pipe Bracket and Front Integral 4-Port Receiver.
Wabtec Corp.

Wabtec Corp. offers ABDX-CM (Cylinder Maintaining) and ABDX-CMHW (Cylinder Maintaining and Hot Wheel Protection) components.  

During a service brake application, if brake cylinder air is leaking and reducing a braking effort, the CM feature directs air from the brake pipe into the brake cylinder to provide a more uniform braking effort, company officials said. When braking on long grades, the feature reduces the need to apply a heavier brake application to compensate for lower braking effort due to brake cylinder leakage. (Note: The CM feature is not available during an emergency application.) 

Similarly, if brake cylinder pressure increases unintentionally during a service brake application, Wabtec’s HW feature vents the higher-than-expected brake cylinder pressure to minimize excessive wheel temperatures. It provides a more uniform braking effort throughout the train (especially during long-grade braking) and reduces potential thermal mechanical shelling due to high wheel temperature caused by excessive cylinder pressure, company officials said.

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