A Vibration Energy Approach Used to Identify Temperature Trending in Railroad Tapered-Roller Bearings

Document Type


Publication Date



Bearing temperature trending is a phenomenon that has plagued the railroad industry for decades and has resulted in costly train stoppages and non-verified bearing removals. Initial experimental studies conducted at The University of Texas-Pan American to explore this troubling phenomenon identified potential sources for the abrupt changes in temperature exhibited by some railroad bearings. The authors hypothesize that vibration-induced rollermisalignment is the root cause for bearing temperature trending. Hence, subsequent research focused on providing validation for the proposed hypothesis through vibration monitoring techniques. To that end, dynamic testers were used to run railroad bearings at the various speeds and loads that they experience in the field. A “trigger” bearing with a known cup raceway defect was used as a vibration source to induce roller misalignment on neighbouring defect-free bearings. Results show that the vibration energy of a bearing would decrease prior to an increase in temperature. In theory, misaligned rollers would vibrate less, leading to a decrease in the overall vibration energy, while also generating sufficient friction to account for the observed temperature increase. Typically, rollers realign themselves through geometrical thermal expansions or changes in the operating conditions, thus, returning to normal temperature and vibration levels. This paper outlines the research findings.

First Page


Last Page


Publication Title

International Journal of Acoustics and Vibration