The link suspension is the most prevailing suspension system for freight wagons in central and western Europe. The system design is simple and has existed for more than 100 years. However, still its characteristics are not fully understood. This thesis emphasizes freight wagon dynamics and comprises three parts:
In the first part a review of freight wagon running gear is made. The different suspension systems are described and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed. The review covers the running gear standardized by UIC and the conventional so-called three-piece bogie. Additionally five improved three-piece bogies and twelve novel running gear designs are presented.
The second part focuses on the lateral force-displacement characteristics in the link suspension. Results from stationary measurements on freight wagons and laboratory tests of the link suspension characteristics are presented. To improve understanding of the various mechanisms and phenomena in link suspension systems a simulation model is developed. Link suspension systems have strongly nonlinear characteristics including a hysteresis loop. The loop exhibits usually three characteristic sections with different tangential stiffnesses. The actual contact geometry of the links and end bearings has a significant influence on the characteristics. By wear in ordinary service - as well as by geometric tolerances on new components - the contact geometry may deviate considerably from nominal geometry. Further, it seems that elastic deformation in the contact surfaces has considerable effects on the suspension characteristics, in particular on the initial rolling stiffness for small displacements. Also, flexibilities in links and end bearings influence the characteristics. It is also observed that new components after a short period of dynamic testing can exhibit a very low amount of energy dissipation, a phenomenon that is also indicated in some stationary measurements on wagons.
To summarize the second part, it appears that the link suspension characteristics are very sensitive to several factors being hard to control in the real world of freight wagon operations. The various stiffnesses and hysteresis loops have a considerable variation and may have a strong influence on the ride qualities of vehicles. As long as the characteristics can not be controlled within closer limits than found in this study, there is a strong need for sensitivity analysis to be made, both in predictive multibody simulations of vehicle dynamics, as well as in verification and acceptance tests.
In the third part a study on the possibility to improve ride qualities of freight wagons with link suspensions is presented. Parametric studies with multibody dynamic simulations on freight wagons equipped with link-suspension bogies are performed. The effect of supplementary friction and hydraulic damping is investigated under various running conditions: speed, loading, tangent and curved track, wheel-rail contact geometry, track gauge and track irregularities. Substantial improvements of the lateral running behaviour of wagons with link suspension bogies can be achieved - both at ordinary speeds and at increased speeds - by using a proper combination of supplementary hydraulic dampers. Speeds up to 160 km/h could be realistic.