S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Railroad Ultrasonics Page keywords = rail road ultrasonic Sperry Service flaw detect track Elmer FDC Mack

Updated:   23 Mar 2016; 13:00  ET
[Page created 17 Mar 2016

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/rrultras.html

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher



note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.


S. Berliner, III's

sbiii.com

Railroad Ultrasonics Page


RAILROADING

Railroad Ultrasonics Page


INDEX:

RR Index Page.

Main RR Page.

On this RR Ultrasonics Page:
  Ultrasonics and Railroading,
  Sperry Ultrasonic Rail Flaw Detector Cars,
  Mack Railcars-cum-Inspection Cars,
  Sperry Rail Service Roster Shots,
    [otherwise unindexed so far - please scroll down.]

On other pages:

ALCO-GE-IR Boxcabs, et seq., ad infnitum.
S. Berliner, III's Pennsylvania Railroad Page.
Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal Railroad
EMD - Electro-Motive Division of GM - models, etc.,

including EMD engines EMD may never have dreamed of,
such as the great DDP45!
Railroads You can Model,
Schnable and other Giant RR Cars, et seq..
MODEL RAILROADING, et seq.
plus Z-Scale (1:220) Model Railroading.
    Sub-Z Scale - 1:440 and even 1:900 Tiny Trains!
Long Island Rail Road, et seq.
PRR Horseshoe and Muleshoe Curves
Z-Scale (1:220) Model Railroading.
    Z-Scale Page 3 with
Half-Z Scale - 1:440 Tiny Trains and even 1:900 Tiniest Trains!


Ultrasonics and Railroading,
[Sperry Rail Service
(and other such services)]

A chance message on a NYC e-mail thread got me started on this idea - I am a specialist in ultrasonics and a RR historian and buff and yet had never put the two together.  Well, here's the result.   new (07 Sep 2012)

First, lets see the villain of the piece:

SRS402NY
[Click on thumbnail for larger image]
(crop of photo from M. Sosalla courtesy of W. Koch - all rights reserved)

The initial thread was about the location (Williamsbridge, Bronx, NY- around MNCR MP10) of this particular Sperry Rail Service car and ended up with RR historian Bill Volkmer's extensive review of the Sperry Rail Service flaw detection cars, as recounted and exanded herein.

ULTRASONICS, as I use it in processing (changing) materials, differs from ULTRASOUND, using ultrasonic energy to examine materials.  Both, however, utilize the properties of high frequency sound waves propagated at high intensity.  Our focus here is primarily on flaw detection, especially on rails in place on trackage.

For non-destructive testing/examination/evaluation/inspection (NDT/NDE/NDI) of solid objects, especially, in this case, steel rail, an ultrasonic signal (a sound wave at a frequency well above human hearing) is propagated through the material, bounces off the far end of the object, and reflects back to the source, where a receiver picks up the return signal.  Knowing the speed of sound in the material*, the distance from the signal source to the reflecting surface can be determined.  If a flaw - a gap, split, crack, spall, shell, check, etc. - exists, it will reflect a signal back sooner than the far reflecting surface, thus giving a second "blip".  This is all very similar to submarine "sonar" or medical ultrasound scanning.

* - Speed of Sound in Steel = ~ 19,200'(5800m)/second.

There are other means to find flaws in rails (such as magnetic-particle, liquid penetrant, radiographic, remote visual inspection (RVI), eddy-current testing, and low coherence interferometry) but they are beyond the scope of this discussion.

[In what follows, I have leaned heavily on Wikipedia, Sperry Rail Service (a Rockwood Company),
and the Danbury Railway Museum for source material.]

Originally, track walkers quite-literally walked the tracks to examine rails visually.  Slo-o-o-o-w!  Some genius got the bright idea of riding the rails to accomplish the same thing and these Pennsy inspection cars are among the first built to do just that:

PRRInspCar82  PRRInspCar91
1882 (left, from Harper's Weekly) || 1891 (right*)
(Click on thumbnails for larger images)
[* - Oooh, lookit the poor slob up topside; guess they didn't think of a cupola!]


Sperry Ultrasonic Rail Flaw Detector Cars/

SRS402L

SRS492R

In 1923, Dr. Elmer A. Sperry, a noted inventor and founder of the various Sperry enterprises, began development of an inspection car that would detect transverse fissures in the rails while traveling along the track.  While Dr. Sperry was engaged in this work, a serious derailment near Victoria, Mississippi, on 27 Oct 1925, caused the death of 21 persons and the injury of over 100 passengers.  The cause of the accident was found to be a broken rail caused by a transverse fissure.

Dr. Sperry contracted with the American Railway Association (one of five predecessors of today's AAR) in August 1927 to build a detector car for the ARA and to supply rail testing service to the railroads.  This car energized the rail with current and measured variations in potential drop by means of a pair of contacts.  While the laboratory tests were satisfactory, the actual conditions in track prevented satisfactory operation.  The searching unit, located between the brushes, depended upon contact with the rail.  The average conditions of the surface of the rail - dirt, oxide, and scale on the rail head - prevented continuous contact of the searching units with the rail and caused many false indications.  Extensive research to develop a practical means of cleaning the rail before testing failed and the method was abandoned and induction inspection was adopted.

Ultrasonic rail testing was first offered in 1949 with the equipment mounted on a motor car and a hand inspection made at each joint.  Within eleven years the ultrasonic inspection equipment was automated to the point where it could effectively assist the induction systems.  Ultrasonic equipment for the detection of defects in the rail head was added to the detector cars in 1960 and ultrasonic equipment for the detection of bolt hole and web defects was added in 1961.  A specially-designed all-ultrasonic detector car was first put into operation by Sperry on 08 Oct 1959 on the New York City subway system.

Rail inspection cars are basically their own train with inspection equipment on board.  The probes and transducers are mounted on carriages located underneath the inspection car.  Modern day inspection cars now use multiple NDT methods.  Induction and ultrasound methods can be used in rail inspection cars and operate at testing speeds of more than 30 mph (48 km/h), with higher speeds in the offing.

HiRail inspection cars almost all test ultrasonic exclusively, but there are some with the capability to perform multiple tests; these trucks are loaded with high speed computers using advanced programs which recognize patterns and contain classification information.  The trucks are also equipped with storage space, tool cabinets, and workbenches.  A GPS unit is used with the computer to mark new defects and locate previously marked defects.  The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires that any indications of defects need to be hand verified immediately.  The GPS system allows a follow-up car to find precisely where the flaw was detected by the lead vehicle.  One advantage to the HiRail trucks is that they can work around regular rail traffic without shutting down or slowing down entire stretches of track.

SRS820HiRail


Most (if not all) early inspection cars were created by converting doodlebugs (motorized rail cars - close cousins to the first gas- or diesel-electric locomotives ("boxcabs"), covered extensively on this site.

EarlySRSRailcar

SRS119Railcar

SRS120Railcar

Mack, of truck fame, was an early supplier of railcars such as these generic and NYNH&HRR examplars:

MackRailBus

NHMack10

NHMack12

In May 1951, Frederick C. Dumaine, Jr. succeeded his father as president of the New Haven Railroad.  Despite the dramatic post-WWII decline in passenger business, his business plan included adding passenger runs on lightly-used branch lines.  His reasoning was that capital should never sit idle when it could be producing revenue.  If the rail was in place, the New Haven would "run as many trains as [it could] cram onto the tracks", according to Dumaine.  To control costs on lines where passenger loads would be small, he returned to an idea the New Haven first tried in the 1920s, a bus on rails.

To build it, the New Haven turned to an experienced bus building firm, the Mack Company of Allentown, Pennsylvania.  After tests with a prototype vehicle in 1952, the New Haven ordered nine modified railbuses for delivery in 1954.  All ten (including the prototype) were dubbed FCDs in honor of Frederick C. Dumaine, Sr., who had conceived the project.  They were 170-horsepower diesel-electrics with a traction motor on each of their four axles.  With a coupler at one end, two FCDs could be M.U.'d nose to nose to carry up to 98 passengers.

The six FCDs scheduled to be assigned to the Boston Division were to make 25 revenue runs on weekdays.  Number 15 was scheduled to make four trips a day between Boston's South Station and Blackstone, Massachusetts, a mid-afternoon round trip and a late evening round trip.  But it never happened!

In April 1954, Patrick McGinnis won a proxy fight for control of the New Haven.  He had no interest in branch line passenger service or railbuses.  When the nine new FCDs were delivered in the summer of 1954, eight of them were immediately stored at the Readville, Massachusetts, shops.  Only number 12 was put into service, and after two years of running between Worcester and Providence, it too was stored.  Number 15 never turned a wheel in revenue service.

Over the next nine years, all the FCDs were sold off.  Number 15 was one of two that went to Remington Arms in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for use in intra-plant freight service.  There it was stripped of its passenger seats, the driver's area at each end was walled off from the rest of the vehicle, and driver's doors were added.  The center door was replaced with a steel rollup door.  For many years Remington Arms #2 carried ammunition, guns, and other products between buildings at the Bridgeport complex.

In 1985, the Remington FCDs were bought by Sperry Rail Service {TA, RA!} of Danbury, Connecticut.  Sperry had bought two other FCDs in 1958, converting one of them to a rail test car while scrapping the other.  One of the Remington FCDs was converted to a rail test car for the New York City subway system, but plans to convert number 15 were never carried out.  For many years it just sat in the weeds.

Sperry wanted to donate FDC 15 to the Danbury Railway Museum.  Understandably, Metro-North was not willing to let the railbus move over its busy Danbury branch trackage.  That meant finding riggers to load the FCD and truckers to haul it.  But the museum couldn't afford to pay someone the estimated $2,500 it would cost for the three-mile trip.

Then another all-volunteer organization stepped in.  Saturday, 07 Sep 1996, was a miserable day due to downpours caused by hurricane Fran.  Despite this, members of the Connecticut Yankee Chapter of the Antique Truck Club of America, using Mack trucks built in the 1950s and early 1960s, donated their time, equipment, and technical expertise to make the move.  Club members brought in a 50-ton wrecker and an excavator to lift the body of the FCD onto one over-the-road vehicle, and a set of FCD trucks onto another.  The same equipment unloaded the FCD onto museum trackage the next morning.

SRSDanbury

Number 15 is currently the only FCD railbus in a museum and may turn out to be the only one ever preserved.  One of the cars Sperry converted was destroyed in a fire.  The other still roams the New York City subway system testing rail for hidden defects that could cause accidents.  The other six FCDs were sold to a Spanish railroad where one continued in service until at least 1978.  If any still exist, it seems a safe bet they won't be coming back across the Atlantic.

The museum is doing a cosmetic restoration to the Remington Arms livery.  A more extensive renovation to the New Haven configuraton and livery is planned for several years down the road.  Someday the museum will make the FCD operational again.  When it does, New Haven 15 will finally carry its first paying passenger!  [after Danbury Railway Museum]


Sperry Rail Service offers a whole gamut of rail testers:

SRSYardTester
Yard Test Vehicle
(naturally, it HAD to be shown out on a main!)

SRSHandTest
Hand Test Unit
"Walking Stick"

Sometimes things go awry, as on 10 Sep 1998 when SRS 138 hit the dirt at Amtrak's Holmesburg Junction in Philadelphia, falling off the jacks while the front truck was out for servicing:

SRS138onGround
(cropped from Stan Feldman photo - all rights reserved)

Other servicers and railroads themselves run inspection cars (and also have problems):

CSX-GMRS1
CSX Test Car GMRS1 at Rose Hill, NC, 06 Aug 2006

The GRMS (Gauge restraint measurement system) was built by the AAR; it applies calibrated lateral loads to the rails and measures the amount of lateral movement of the rails under load, an excellent indicator of tie condition (FRA now requires track gauge to be measured under load as part of the determination of whether track meets a particular FRA standard).

TokyoKeikiVietNam
Tokyo Keiki Test Car in Vietnam


Sperry Rail Service Roster Shots from Bill Volkmer
    (except as noted):

02SRS118WK1
SRS 118 at Bangor, Maine, 19 May 1982
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

03SRS118WK2
SRS 118 at Medina, Ohio, 26 May 1987 (1)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

04SRS118WK3
SRS 118 at Medina, Ohio, 26 May 1987 (2)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

05SRS118WK4
SRS 118 at Nome Jct, Maine, 19 May 1982
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

06SRS119WK1
SRS 119 at Crestline, Ohio, 20 Aug 1981
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

07SRS119WK2
SRS 119 at Syracuse, New York, 19 May 1986
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

08SRS123WK1
SRS 123 at Bethlehem, Pennsylania on LVRR, 23 Jul 1961
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

09SRS123WK2
SRS 123 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at B&O Station, 02 Jan 1977
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

10SRS124WK1
SRS 124 at Dallas, Texas, 31 Dec 1983
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

11SRS125WK1
SRS 125 at Conneaut, Ohio, 12 May 1988
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

12SRS125WK2
SRS 125 at Enola, Pennsylvania, 16 Mar 1991
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

13SRS125WK3
SRS 125 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 03 Jul 1982
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

14SRS125WK4
SRS 125 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 03 Jul 1982 (2)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

27SRS12WK5
SRS 125 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 03 Jul 1982 (3)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

30SRS126WK4
SRS 126 at Greenville, Texas, 07 Apr 1994
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

31SRS126WK5
SRS 126 at Topeka, Kansas, 20 Sep 1969
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

32SRS127WK1
SRS 127 at Atlanta, Georgia, 18 Aug 1957 {1}
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

33SRS127WK2
SRS 127 at Atlanta, Georgia, 18 Aug 1957 {2}
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

34SRS129WK1
SRS 129 at Kansas City, Missouri, 30 Apr 1989
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

35SRS129WK2
SRS 129 at St. Louis, Missouri, 30 Aug 1978
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

17SRS130WK1
SRS 130 at Manassas, Virginia, 10 Mar 1966
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

36SRS130WK2
SRS 130 at Deshler, Ohio, 01 Feb 1988
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

18SRS132WK1
SRS 132 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 15 Jun 1985
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

19SRS132WK2
SRS 132 at Hollis, Illinois on the TP&W, 21 May 1958
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

20SRS132WK3
SRS 132 at Homerville, Ohio, 13 Jun 1983
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

21SRS134WK1
SRS 134 (unprovenanced)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

22SRS134WK2
SRS 134 at Brooklyn, Illinois, 17 Dec 1978
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

23SRS134WK3
SRS 134 at Topeka, Kansas, 28 Feb 1976
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

24SRS135WK1
SRS 135 at Raleigh, North Carolina, 24 Dec 1977
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

01SRS136WK1
SRS 136 at Sperry Rail Service 136 at Vancouver, British Columbia (undated)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

25SRS136WK2
SRS 136 at Bluefield, West Virginia, 29 Jun 1980
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

26SRS136WK3
SRS 136 at Ogden, Utah (undated)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

37SRS137WK1
SRS 137 at Silver Lake, Wisconsin, 27 Apr 1977
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

38SRS139WK1
SRS 139 (unprovenanced)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

39SRS139WK2
SRS 139 at DeButts (Chattanooga), Tennessee, 06 May 1979
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

40SRS139WK3
SRS 139 at Pineyville, Illinois (undated)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

41SRS140WK1
SRS 140 at Elizabethport, New Jersey, 26 Nov 1966
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

SRS141ScreenShot
SRS 141 out west somewhere spectacular
(screen shot from SRS employment video - all rights reserved)

42SRS142WK1
SRS 142 at Topeka, Kansas, 01 Mar 1975
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

43SRS142WK2
SRS 142 at Topeka, Kansas, 16 May 1987
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

44SRS143WK1
SRS 143 (location not specified), 08 Mar 1981
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

45SRS143WK2
SRS 143 at Etowah, Tennessee, Oct 1974
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

46SRS143WK3
SRS 143 at Salt Lake City, Utah, 09 Dec 1979
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

47SRS143WK4
SRS 143 at Utah Junction, California, 27 May 1979
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

48SRS144WK1
SRS 144 at Oakland, California, 16 Jan 1982
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

49SRS145WK1
SRS 145 (unprovenanced)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

51SRS145WK2
SRS 145 at Framingham, Massachusetts, 31 Jul 1983
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

52SRS145WK3
SRS 145 at Topeka, Kansas, 25 Mar 1989
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

53SRS146WK1
SRS 146 at South Amboy, New Jersey (undated)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

54SRS148WK1
SRS 148 (unprovenanced)
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

50SRS148WK2
SRS 148 at Etowah, Tennessee, 21 Jan 1986
(roster shot courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnail for larger image.]

My sincere thanks to Bill Volkmer for these great roster shots.



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