Durability: How long do the wheels last?
- Steel wheels have proven to be more durable and long lasting than either rubber or polyurethane. The friction created from operating on rails produces much less wear on steel wheels than with other materials. Steel wheels are also puncture-proof, while rubber tires must be either solid rubber or foam-filled to avoid puncture. These factors ensure that steel wheels need to be replaced far less frequently than rubber or polyurethane wheels, which saves you time and money associated with maintenance costs.
Adhesion: How well does the wheel grab the rail?
- Any number of conditions can affect how well a wheel adheres to the rails: snow, ice, rain, or many different types of debris or environmental contaminants. The coefficient of friction for steel on steel remains more consistent throughout these conditions than the coefficient for rubber or polyurethane on steel. In other words, steel wheels are capable of adhering to the rail better, despite these conditions. There is also far less rolling resistance with steel wheels, as opposed to rubber or polyurethane. Similarly, steel wheels are unaffected by a range of railway obstructions, such as raised frogs, switch points, gaps between rails, and by material packed into grade crossings. The ability to perform consistently over both natural and constructed conditions is a key factor in our decision to use steel wheels.
The goal of every Trackmobile® unit is to ensure safety, reliability, ease of use, and low operational cost. None of this would be possible without the use of wheels that provide the most consistent application of tractive effort. Wheels play a huge role in how well the machine travels on railways and how much weight it can pull. Trackmobile® units are equipped with steel wheels to provide the greatest and most consistent tractive effort.
Steel wheels have been the industry standard for railway transportation since the first steam locomotive was invented in 1804. Trackmobile® subscribes to that standard still today for many of the same reasons and more. Durability and consistency in adhesion are the two main factors considered when designing our machines.