Modern Casting

Railroad equipment. (Casting Market Focus).

Picture a 100-car unit train weighing 260,000 lb (13,150 tons of freight pulled by 12,000 horsepower) rapidly climbing and descending throughout the Rocky Mountains and its picturesque inclines, valleys, and peak-winding, ice-covered tracks. Throughout its journey, this train will charge through -40F mountain air to the sun-scorched heat of its final destination. The components on such a train are expected to perform at the same optimum level on every single foot of track for the 150,000 miles it will log annually--for 20 years or more. Whether you realize it or not, millions of Americans just like you are relying on these very trains to deliver the coal needed to supply the energy for your homes, businesses and daily conveniences of modern life.

Conditions this demanding leave few methods of manufacture capable of meeting such challenges while also remaining cost-effective. But, in such railroad applications where extreme properties for shock, fatigue and tensile strength, and overall toughness at minimum weight are required, casting is largely the process of choice. Take the cast steel coupler, for instance, which connects each of the 100 cars together on a Unit train. These couplers must withstand a maximum continuous force of 500,000 lb, requiring the component to meet average tensile strength requirements and ultimate strengths of 800,000 lb and 1 million lb, respectively. The combination of the casting process and material choice makes this possible.

Following is some background on casting applications within the railroad equipment industry, and in particular, some prominent steel casting components.

Workin' on the Railroad

The general classification for railroad equipment (NAICS 3365) includes those companies engaged in building or rebuilding locomotives, railroad, street and rapid transit cars and car equipment for operation on rails for both freight and passenger service. …

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