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Keywords:

  • Wheel Impact;
  • Insulated Rail Joint;
  • Wheel–Rail Contact Force;
  • Strain Gage Bridge;
  • Field Experiment

When wheels pass over insulated rail joints (IRJs) a vertical impact force is generated. The ability to measure the impact force is valuable as the force signature helps understand the behaviour of the IRJs, in particular their potential for failure. The impact forces are thought to be one of the main factors that cause damage to the IRJ and track components. Study of the deterioration mechanism helps finding new methods to improve the service life of IRJs in track. In this research, the strain-gage-based wheel load detector, for the first time, is employed to measure the wheel–rail contact-impact force at an IRJ in a heavy haul rail line. In this technique, the strain gages are installed within the IRJ assembly without disturbing the structural integrity of IRJ and arranged in a full wheatstone bridge to form a wheel load detector. The instrumented IRJ is first tested and calibrated in the lab and then installed in the field. For comparison purposes, a reference rail section is also instrumented with the same strain gage pattern as the IRJ. In this paper the measurement technique, the process of instrumentation, and tests as well as some typical data obtained from the field and the inferences are presented.