Wheel flats are common railcar wheel defects that cause bearing failures and train derailments. In an effort to better understand the impacts created by a wheel flat, a nonlinear finite element model using LS-DYNA was created of a single 914.4 mm (36 in) railcar wheel with a wheel flat and a 3.24 m (127.5 in) half track with one rail, six wood ties and tie plates. Discrete element springs and dampers simulated the ballast and subgrade. Goals of this model were to accurately simulate a wheel flat impact at varying speeds and to monitor the plastic deformation that occurs at the sharp edges of the wheel flat during rotation. Producing and validating this model then could be used to test modifications to the track and wheel to lower the severity of wheel impacts. Results indicated an accurate simulation; however, improvements with the material properties, suspension model and mesh sensitivity can be made.

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