Dept. of Materials Science
Oregon Graduate Center
For more than fifty years, the use of continuous welded rail has been increasing in American rail track systems. Field welding for repair and maintenance purposes has largely been limited to use of the thermit process. During this same time period, the train car tonnage and speeds have come to exceed the mechanical property limits of the thermit process, which had a relatively high failure rate even during the early years. This investigation entailed adaptation of the consumable guide electroslag welding (E.S.W.-C.G.) process as an alternative for field welding of 136 pound per yard carbon steel rail, The electroslag process was selected for this application because of the sound weld deposits normally produced with the high deposition single-pass welds and its potential for portability through use of an engine-driven generator power source. The weld sensitive rail chemistry and complex geometry posed a very unusual application for E.S.W., which is normally applied to structural steel plates of uniform thickness. The high E.S.W. heat input and slow cooling rate, however, proved to be advantageous for producing acceptable properties in the weld heat affected zone, and electroslag welded rail sections are presently being observed in track to determine their actual degree of acceptability. The success of the E.S.W. application for rail welding (E.S.R.W.) was largely a result of the development of (1) a multi-section copper mold assembly, (2) a unique weld starting method, (3) a plate guide tube that accommodates two electrode wires and regionally affects slag bath heating, and (4) a welding procedure that provides a uniform depth of fusion over the length of the weld joint.
Turpin, Robert B., "Adaptation of the electroslag welding process to joining of railroad rail" (1983). Scholar Archive. 223.