A long-term trial into the reduction of wheel flange and track wear, as well as the associated noise, has been completed by Metrolink in Manchester over the past 18 months. The Intelligent Wheel Flange Lubrication (iWFL) system developed by Bury-based rail engineering and manufacturing company Rowe Hankins was proven to be substantially more effective than the alternative solid lubricant-based system
The detailed results from the trial have been presented by David Rowe, the senior engineer at Rowe Hankins and supervisor of the project to the North West branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. This report is now available as a white paper from the company.
The two-stage trial was undertaken using a double-carriage T68 tram. The iWFL system significantly extended the distance by over 50 per cent – from 55,000 to 87,000km – that the tram could cover before re-profiling of the wheel flanges was required.
Rowe Hankins’ iWFL system is designed to apply measured quantities of grease to wheel flanges precisely when and where required. It achieves this by combining measurement of distance, curve radius detection and GPS technology to pinpoint precisely where the problems of potential wear and noise occur. Measured pulses of lubrication, variable according to the severity and duration of the curve, are applied to the flange of the wheels on the leading axle just ahead of the curve. Traces of this lubrication are conveyed to other wheels and are sufficient to moderate friction and
wear without affecting traction or braking efficiency.
The intelligence of the system results in proportionately more lubrication being applied on the outer edge of the curve and recognition of tram direction so that there is a switch of lubrication to the leading wheel set when the tram reverses direction. Rowe Hankins also uses a lubricant that is specially formulated so that there is no persistent residue or environmental impact.
The detailed 17-page white paper will be of interest to track engineers and asset managers – it is available from the company on 0161 765 3000
. It explains the mechanisms of how track and wheel flange damage occurs and how application of lubrication can reduce these. In addition to extending in-service time and thus increase return on investment for vehicles and track, iWFL will also save energy as the rolling resistance of stock is reduced. The practical aspects of system deployment are fully discussed including noise reduction.
For further information or a copy of the white
paper, please contact Peter O’Neill at:
Tel: 0161 765 3000