Developing a reliable signal wire attachment method for rail.
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Developing a reliable signal wire attachment method for rail.

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      The goal of this project was to develop a better attachment method for rail signal wires to improve the reliability of signaling systems. EWI conducted basic research into the failure mode of current attachment methods and developed and tested a new process that provides improved performance over current techniques. EWI studied currently available stud alloys and developed a solid state inertia friction welding (IFW) process to better control the joining process and reduce the likelihood of forming martensite in the rail head. C464 Naval Brass exhibited high strength without the formation of martensite under manageable process parameters. EWI developed the new welding process and conducted a series of tests to address any barriers to implementation. The testing included comparative tests between current exothermic welding techniques and the new IFW process. These tests included tensile testing, fatigue testing of welded joints, impact testing of weld joints, shear testing, microstructural analysis, and hardness testing in the rail steel immediately adjacent to the joint. In these tests, no martensite was found in the rail using the newly developed IFW process conditions. The mechanical tests showed a joint strength comparable to exothermic processes and fatigue performance that was as good, or better than, existing methods. This suggests the IFW approach should allow placement of the weld on the rail head with low risk of rail steel damage. A conceptual design for a portable IFW machine was completed.
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