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Finite Element Analysis of Insulated Railroad Joints
Himebaugh, Anne Katherine
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In recent years, the lifetime of an insulated railroad joint in the field has decreased due to increasing wheel loads. The goal of this research is to investigate possible changes in insulated rail joint design in order to improve the performance of the insulated joint. The finite element program ABAQUS is used to model the supported butt joint. In this model, the rail, joint bars, epoxy, and ties surrounding the joint are modeled using solid elements. The remaining ties are modeled as an elastic foundation. The rail is subjected to a tensile load, as well as a vertical wheel load that is applied to the rail using Hertz contact theory. Parametric studies are performed by varying the tie width, joint bar length, and joint bar dimensions. Two different wheel load locations are also investigated: centered about the end post, and halfway between the tie under the end post and the tie just to the left of the end post. The vertical displacement of the rail and insulated joint is one measure used to determine the effect of the parameters on the insulated joint. However, since the most common cause of failure in insulated rail joints is the debonding of the epoxy, this research also focuses on the stresses present in the epoxy when the joint is subjected to a static wheel load. The two out-of-plane shear stresses as well as the normal peel stress are used to compare the various designs of the joint.
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