Technologies and Testing to Prevent Water Ingress in Railroad Bearings
Bearing degradation and defects can result in a bearing being removed from service before the end of its normal service life or possible bearing failure, causing service disruption or even derailment. Water damage is the leading cause of premature bearing failure; therefore, preventing this damage is of primary concern to ensure safety in rail operations. Between 2018 and 2022, researchers at Transportation Technology Center, Inc., using the resources at both the Transportation Technology Center and an outside lab, investigated various seal types for their ability to prevent water (in the form of vapor and spray) from penetrating and damaging railway bearings over their service life and in different service parameters. A discussion of the related phenomenon of fretting corrosion and potential methods to prevent water ingress is also included.