Replacing Wheels Of Steel: How Train Wheel Replacement Works

A new set of wheels makes a huge difference.

train wheel replacement
Image: Pexels / Gusztáv Galló

As time passes on, everything degrades and loses its original form. Nothing escapes this natural process, not even the most prized invention of humankind, the wheel — no matter which material it is made out of.

For instance, car wheels need to be balanced with weights and aligned properly at regular intervals. Similarly, even train wheels require timely replacement to keep the trains in peak performance.

While standard wheels might need replacing because of deflated tires, a train wheel’s bane is flat spots. These irregularities occur as a result of the wheels dragging along the tracks while the brakes are on. A scenario in which flat spots can emerge is when an emergency brake is applied.

Train wheel replacement is a periodic activity that helps the railcars run smoothly, without any hiccups. Here’s a video that shows how the maintenance crew swaps a freight train’s old wheels for new ones.

Train wheel replacement process

Removing degraded wheels and installing a fresh set is a strenuous task that requires a certain level of precision and care. Therefore, a dedicated and well-equipped maintenance crew carries out wheel replacement using various machines and tools.

When replacing the wheels of, say, a freight train, the crew starts off by placing a jack under the coupler (the portion that connects two railcars) linked to the target railcar using a forklift. After that, the crew connects the jack to a machine that supplies power to it and enables it to gradually lift the railcar.

replacing train wheel
New wheels being set underneath a railcar. (Image: YouTube / H K’s Outdoor Adventures)

As soon as the railcar is sufficiently above the ground, a forklift switches worn-out wheels for new ones. Once the replacement wheels are finally in place, the machine powering the jack slowly puts the railcar down. This entire process of replacing wheels happens under supervision to avoid errors and accidents.

Clearly, the involvement of special machines and equipment plays a pivotal role in train wheel replacement. To know more about how technology facilitates other railway maintenance practices, check out how railway track replacement happens or read about railway tie repairs.

Priye Rai

Priye Rai

Priye is a tech writer who writes about anything remotely related to tech, including gaming, smartphones, social media, etc. He prefers to be called a "video game journalist" and grimaces when he doesn't get to be "Player 1." If you want to share feedback or talk about games, reach out to @priyeakapj on Twitter.
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