Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Constantine Tarawneh

Second Advisor

Dr. Arturo Fuentes

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephen Crown


Wayside hot box detectors (HBDs) are devices used to determine the health of railcar components such as bearings, axles, and brakes by monitoring the radiated temperature form these components. HBDs have been instrumental in reducing rail derailments in the decade, but the number of non-verified bearing removals has increased significantly. To combat these limitations, researchers have opted to use wireless onboard sensor devices directly mounted on the bearing adapter. The wireless onboard health monitoring system developed by the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety (UTCRS) utilizes temperature and vibration sensors to detect the condition of rolling stock. However, because the sensor is affixed to the bearing adapter, a transient thermal analysis was performed to determine the lumped capacitance behavior and the corresponding thermal lag of a railroad bearing adapter. To fully understand the heat transfer distribution, a finite element model (FEM) was developed to observe the thermal dissipation among the components. To validate the results, experimental data and the finite element simulation were compared against each other. These results can be used to identify the optimal anchor points for the temperature sensors on the bearing adapter and increase the proficiency of wireless onboard sensor devices in detecting defective components.


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