Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



This paper presents a study of the fatigue life (i.e. number of stress cycles before failure) of Class K cast iron conventional and modified railroad bearing adapters for onboard monitoring applications under different operational conditions based on experimentally validated Finite Element Analysis (FEA) stress results. Currently, freight railcars rely heavily on wayside hot-box detectors (HBDs) at strategic intervals to record bearing cup temperatures as the train passes at specified velocities. Hence, most temperature measurements are limited to certain physical railroad locations. This limitation gave way for an optimized sensor that could potentially deliver significant insight on continuous bearing temperature conditions. Bearing adapter modifications (i.e. cut-outs) were required to house the developed temperature sensor which will be used for onboard monitoring applications. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the reliability of the modified railroad bearing adapter. Previous work done at the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety (UTCRS) led to the development of finite element model with experimentally validated boundary conditions which was utilized to obtain stress distribution maps of conventional and modified railroad bearing adapters under different service conditions. These maps were useful for identifying areas of interest for an eventual inspection of railroad bearing adapters in the field. Upon further examination of the previously acquired results, it was determined that one possible mode of adapter failure would be by fatigue due to the cyclic loading and the range of stresses in the railroad bearing adapters. In this study, the authors experimentally validate the FEA stress results and investigate the fatigue life of the adapters under different extreme case scenarios for the bearing adapters including the effect of a railroad flat wheel. In this case, the flat wheel translates into a periodic impact load on the bearing adapter. The Stress-Life approach is used to calculate the life of the railroad bearing adapters made out of cast iron and subjected to cyclic loading. From the known material properties of the adapter (cast iron), the operational life is estimated with a mathematical relationship. The Goodman correction factor is used in these life prediction calculations in order to take into account the mean stresses experienced by these adapters. The work shows that the adapters have infinite life in all studied cases.


Copyright © 2015 by ASME. Original published version available at

Publication Title

Proceedings of the 2015 Joint Rail Conference





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