Norfolk Southern Diesel Wheel Slipping
Where steel meets the rail!
The tractive effort and adhesive weight generated by a locomotive is what moves the the locomotive and train forward. The maximum force needed for a train is at start up.
Things can go a little awry when the power to weight ratio is off and the traction is too weak causing the wheel to spin in place.
The result is grinding the rail.
The engineer can cause damage to both the locomotive and the rails if the situation is allowed to go uncontrolled. This would ultimately result in the familiar divets or half gouges in the rail from a wheel spinning too long in one place.
Likewise, when a locomotive is braking too hard, it can cause the wheel to stop rotating and thereby rubbing the wheel in one location that would cause something called a wheel flat.
This phenomenon can occur with both steam and diesel locomotives, and require skilled engineers to work the throttle just right when starting the train moving.
In the case of the diesel locomotive, most have electronic wheel spin detectors may be needed to correct the power output to a certain truck.
Let us know if you have ever seen any wheel grinding by a locomotive. We would love to hear about your experience!