SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1951

Ultrasonic Testing in Railroad Work


A little over three and one-half years ago, the Erie Railroad obtained the first of its “ultrasonic reflectoscopes” which at that time were called Supersonic Reflectoscopes made by Sperry Products, Inc. Since that time three additional machines have been obtained and others are on order. The machines were purchased at a time when considerable trouble was being experienced with locomotive driving axle breakage usually caused by fatigue cracks, but occasionally caused by progressive cracks resulting from overheating of journals. The importance of testing these parts was so great that the entire time available for using machines was spent in checking locomotive axles on steam engines until very recently when two broken axles on diesel freight locomotives made it advisable to find a means of checking diesel axles as well as steam engine axles. Since the instruments were tied up on this preferred work no experimental work has been done along other lines, and this report deals entirely with experiences in testing locomotive axles. The number of cracked and broken steam locomotive axles occurring in service and found in shops had caused considerable concern. While it is true that most failures occurred at slow speed resulting in a minimum of damage, still some failures did occur at high speed, and the damage resulting amounted to thousands of dollars.

Author Information

Hall, E., D.
Erie Railroad Co., Meadville, Pa.
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Developed by Committee: E07
Pages: 87–89
DOI: 10.1520/STP46811S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-6992-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-6499-4