Factory Steel Wheels on Trains?

July 20th, 2010

Whenever I go to San Diego, I always take the train; & I always wonder why they use steel wheels instead of the regular alloy rims & tires. When I did my “research”, I discovered that they used steel wheels to lessen rolling friction.

Say you’re driving on the freeway, only 25% of the engine’s power is being used to push & hold the tires down to the road. Since the tires usually bend a lot & pretty much deform when they roll, this causes them to use a lot of energy. Considering a train weighs a lot more than a car does, the rolling resistance is a huge factor when it comes to determining how much force it actually takes to pull the train.

When there’s OEM steel wheels on a train, the quantity of deformation is minimized; therefore, it reduces the Rolling Resistance. The only thing with steel wheels is that they really don’t have as much traction as they should have. Imagine 2002 Hyundai Sonata rims (the steel ones) on trains? The hubcaps would be flying all over the place.

Off to San Diego,


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