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Suitability and Variability of Non-Destructive Testing Methods for Concrete Railroad Tie Inspection

[+] Author Affiliations
Aref Shafiei, Kyle A. Riding, Robert J. Peterman, Chris Christensen, B. Terry Beck, Aaron A. Robertson, Chih-Hang John Wu

Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Paper No. JRC2016-5776, pp. V001T01A020; 7 pages
doi:10.1115/JRC2016-5776
From:
  • 2016 Joint Rail Conference
  • 2016 Joint Rail Conference
  • Columbia, South Carolina, USA, April 12–15, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4967-5
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME

abstract

Concrete railroad ties have been used in increasing numbers in the U.S., particularly in high-speed rail, heavy-haul freight lines, and new track construction because of their reduced deflections, durability, and competitive cost. In-track assessment of concrete railroad ties can be a challenge, however because many exterior tie surfaces are covered by tie pads and rail or ballast. This damage may include concrete section wear from abrasion, cracking, or crumbling, or other types of defects. Damage internal to the concrete can also not be seen visually. The time and cost needed to inspect these tie surfaces means that it is not routinely performed. Non-destructive testing offers promise as a way to assess concrete tie integrity without having to remove ballast, however more information is needed to know how well non-destructive techniques work in detecting damage. Two of the most promising techniques for investigating the integrity of concrete non-destructively are ultrasonic pulse velocity and impact-echo. Ultrasonic pulse velocity (UPV) and Impact-echo (IE) were applied to investigate the uniformity of concrete railroad tie and its cavities, cracks and defects for concrete ties taken from track after service. This paper evaluated the variability of the test results in UPV and IE testing condition in which two concrete railroad ties with same manufacture and load history condition were tested in both methods. Two additional concrete ties with the same manufacture and load history as each other with visible longitudinal cracks were also examined to see how the damage affected the variability measured. For this purpose, wave pulse for every full length tie from full top, half top, longitude and two sides were measured using ultrasonic pulse (ASTM C597). Also, thickness of concrete ties on both sides, including rail seat location and the middle were assessed by standard tests method for measuring the p-wave speed and the thickness of concrete using the impact-echo method (ASTM C1383). Advice is given on how to interpret ultrasonic pulse velocity and impact-echo measurements and given the variability of the test method how to flag ties for potential deterioration given that most ties in service will not have initial measurements taken before damage for comparison.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME

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