Analytical method to estimate railroad spike fastener stress

Dersch, M.S., M. Trizotto Silva, J.R. Edwards, A. de O. Lima and T.A. Roadcap. 2020. Analytical method to estimate railroad spike fastener stress. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. doi:10.1177/0361198120949259.


Previous research indicates that spike fastener fatigue failures have led to at least ten derailments since 2000. Given that rail-roads continue to install fastening systems that have experienced spike failures, methods to quantify the stress state of thespike must be developed. Common approaches to quantify the effect of key variables include laboratory experimentation,field instrumentation, or finite element model development. However, these approaches may be both time and cost prohibi-tive. An analytical method based on beam on elastic foundation mechanics, similar to the analysis of laterally loaded piles indeep foundation design, was developed to estimate the spike stresses. The outcome is a laboratory-validated analyticalapproach that generates estimates of spike stress. This analytical model was used to investigate key design criteria (timbermodulus, spike cross-sectional area, and load applied) that could be changed to improve the resiliency of the fastening systemto increase railroad safety. Another outcome of this study is the development of an instrumented spike that quantifies thespike demands when installed and loaded within a crosstie.