Visit to Wheel and Axle Plant at Yelahanka
by Karthik M.V.
Yesterday, Mr.Ravi, Mr."Poochi" Venkat from MAS and myself enjoyed some hard core railfanning for 10 long hours!!
Thanks to our very own ADRM and IR officials, We got a guided tour of Wheel and Axle plant, KJM loco shed and footplating from KJM loco shed to SBC, which was an icing on the cake!! Personally the visits was a great learning experience for me too.
Here is my report:
In the morning around 10am we went to the WAP at YNK, met the GM's sec'y, and he arranged for a JEE of mech dept to take us around the plant. The campus is really beautiful and very clean too. Even the sec'y room was well furnished, so just cannot imagine how luxurious will the GM's room be!
The JEE was technically well versed with all the concepts and processes. He told us that, India is the only country in the world having this type of modern plant outside the US! It seems the WAP do not produce wheels for passenger coaches. They produce only wheel sets of locos, BOXN, milk tanker and a few mg. He first took us to the Wheel plant. This a huge shed like building, where all the processes, from raw material to final product is carried out under one roof.
It was surprising to note that the man power was very less. All the processes are fully automatic and computerised. During the 'tour' it was a thrill to see those red hot wheels and also the liquid with an orange glow!
Here is a brief about wheel making process:
All scrap metal (old wheel sets, tracks, etc.) are treated and sent to a melting tank. Here using 3 electrodes (3-phase) the metal is melted into liquid form at abt 11000amps and some 2000deg C. Then the liquid is sent to a kind of an underground pit. When the metal is at sufficient temp, the pit is closed with a lid having a type of pipe made of ceramic material. Then the mould box is placed over this pipe and with air pressure the metal is pumped into the mould. Like this, mould boxes keeping arriving on roller belts, and are filled with metal and then sent for further processing. The mould box is made of graphite and is in two halves. Bottom half has 2/3 of the wheel impression and the other half has 1/3. A great thing is that the moulding processes is so perfect that, the wheel surface is pucca and machining is done only for minor corrections. Using a CNC oxy-acetylene flame the axle hole in the wheel is made perfect. Then after several heating processes the final wheel is deposited in a godown.
After, this we went to the neighbhouring axle plant. Here also everthing is automised. Only manual part is wheels have to be fed into the assembly line. All the axles are of solid steel and are machined in CNC lathe to get the proper dimensions. Basically the extreme ends of all axles have lesser dia, where roller bearing sets are inserted in later by ICF/RCF. The parts of the axle where wheels or gear(incase of locos) has to be inserted is of larger dia. The axle hole dia of wheels is 1mm lesser than axle dia. Using a hydraulic machine a brute force of 3000kN is used to put the axle into the wheels. This type of fixing the wheels removes any welding process and also improves the rigidity of wheel and axle. As per JEE's words, till todate there has never been a case of wheels coming apart from the axle.
The axle ends where roller bearings have to be inserted are covered with a plastic cap to avoid damage during transportation. After final qualtiy check the wheel sets are sent to the godown, from where they are loaded into BoxC rakes and sent for export or ICF/RCF/DLW/CLW.
So, after enriching our knowledge we came out of the plant around 1:15pm. As, we were all wearing a safety helmet, we thought it would be great to take some snaps and the JEE obliged us as well. But,no photograohy inside the plant. Later we bid good bye. I think, Mr.Ravi can add more technical details, as he is a Mechy:-)
Later, after having some delecious lunch at "Tamarind" CSDR, we headed towards KJM loco shed.
We arrived at KJM diesel loco shed at around 3pm. Met the DME, and he arranged a junior as a guide.
The loco shed is not that big. It has got at present only 4 pit lines. 2 for major overhaul and 2 for minor works. At present they have 80 locos, but the shed is going to have further expansion in the near future. We spotted a few WDM2cs and WDM2s. Also a WDG2 of erode shed recently transferred to KJM, but still the ED livery was intact. We had a free look into all the cabs. All WDM2c and WDG2s are having left side driver seats with tap-changer type of throttle. The drivers said this was the most convenient arrangement. After this we had a look into the spares shop. Also, had a good look at the DC TMs. Here is some info on TMs. I counted 60 copper conductors on the rotor. The yoke had 4 main poles and 4 inter-poles. Also, these TMs hang directly on the axle. As we had reached the shed at closing time, there were'nt many who could explain things to us.
We then went to the control office, here there is board indicating various loco links. I think Mr.Venkat can add more info on this as he had taken a snap of it.
Here is some info which I took down. Loco holding at KJM:
Some locos which have been transferred recently,
KJM to C.rly:
16275, 16677, 16679, 17686, 17799, 17804, 17812, 17542, 17454, 17364.
Erode to KJM:
14740, 14796, 14637,14636, 14613, 14639, 14660, 14615
After a taking a few snaps, we had a chat with the JEE. There was a WDM2 coupled to a Udyan 2c, ready to leave for SBC. The driver agreed to let us in and we were all overjoyed! It was the first time we were footplating by a light loco. We left the shed around 6:10pm. Some where between BYPL and BNCE we got two greens, and loco went from zero to 95kmph in an amazingly short duration. Just like some car! I think the best place to footplate on the loco is, outside the cab just behind the driver. It was a thrill to travel at 95kmph with all those vibrations. Later due to lots of crossings we reached SBC only at 7pm after riding a few yellows and reds as well.
At SBC we thanked the drivers, and bid good bye. I returned home to CSDR by a 'Jana Priya Vahini' around 8:30pm. So, overall it was a great railfanning day, I guess this what is hard core railfanning:-) Learning as well as enjoying!!
I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all the IR officials for making these visits possible and an unforgettable one too! Also, my sincere thanks to Ravi Sir for getting his air-conditioned Lancer which solved all the transportation problems.