Experimental investigation into the condition of insulated rail joints by impact excitation

December 1, 2015 in

Journal Paper

Maider Oregui
Maria Molodova
Alfredo Núñez
Rolf Dollevoet
Zili Li

ISSN 1741-2765
DOI 10.1007/s11340-015-0048-7


Experimental Mechanics
Volume 55, Issue 9, Pages 1597-1612

Publisher: Springer US
Publishing date: November 2015

axle box acceleration, Frequency response function based statistical method, Hammer test, insulated rail joints

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This paper presents a feasibility study to determine if the health condition of Insulated Rail Joints (IRJs) can be assessed by examining their dynamic response to impact excitation. First, a reference dynamic behavior is defined in the frequency domain of 50-1200 Hz based on field hammer test measurements performed on a IRJ baseline (i.e., a set of IRJ without visible damage). Then, measurements on IRJs with different damage states are compared to the IRJ baseline response via the frequency response function (FRF) based statistical method. Three cases of IRJs are analyzed: a IRJ with a broken fastening, a IRJ with a damaged insulation layer and a IRJ with a rail top with plastic deformation. Combining hammer test measurements, hardness measurements and pictures of the IRJs, two frequency bands were identified as characteristic for damaged IRJs. In the identified high frequency band (1000-1150 Hz), the measured dynamic response with both a vehicle-borne health monitoring system and hammer tests shows a clear difference between the damaged IRJs and the IRJ baseline. Furthermore, different damage types may be able to be identified by examining the dynamic responses in the identified mid-frequency band (420-600 Hz). Further analysis over a larger number of IRJs may complete and support the promising results so that the information can be employed for the condition assessment and monitoring of IRJs.