Train Brakes Report

Topics: Brakes, Vehicle braking technologies, Drum brake Pages: 5 (1457 words) Published: February 2, 2013
Title Page

-------------- Tas Faculty
Train Air Braking System
Engineering Studies
By --------
Teacher: ------------

The purpose of this report is to explain how air brakes in trains work and why they are there. Throughout this report there is information on the function of the Air Brake, the history and development of the brake, The component materials used in the brake, the environmental considerations of the brake, its safety features and social implications. The Air Brake was invented in 1869 by a man named George Westinghouse. It was originally designed for trains but Westinghouse then went on to develop the brake for trucks and some cars. The air brake is designed to be used as a failsafe in case the primary brakes fail, however it can also be used in extreme conditions to control the vehicle e.g. very steep hills. The air brake is a relatively simple yet effective system which is still in use to this day.


The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of his teacher ------------for his assistance in the preparation of this report. The author would also like to acknowledge Dr. Bob Wheway for his excellent guide to writing an engineering report.

Table of Contents
Title PageI
List of Figures- 1 -
Introduction- 2 -
Main Sections- 3 -
Historical Development- 3 -
Innovation Function- 3 -
Component Materials- 5 -
Environmental Considerations- 6 -
Social Implications- 7 -
Future Considerations- 7 -
Safety Considerations- 8 -
Conclusion- 9 -
References- 9 -

List of Figures

Figure 1 – A modern day air brake exploded diagram. Page 4 Figure 2 – a triple valve system invented by George Westinghouse. Page 5


This report focuses on How Train Air Brakes work, the materials they are made from and the history of Air Brakes in Trains Train Air Brakes basically work on the principal of air pressure. The train driver pulls a lever which activates a pipe of air usually from 65-90psi. This pipe of air runs along all of the carriages of the train. When applied the air simultaneously starts to pump the brake cylinder which activates the brake blocks, effectively stopping the train. The author’s method of approach is to determine how the breaking system works by researching the Breaking System and outlining its function and history. The scope of this report is limited to a Year 11 High School Student. The materials used in this braking system include: Cast iron (brake shoe), Stainless Steel (pipes which contain high pressured air), High Carbon Steel/stainless steel (wheel).

Main Sections
Historical Development
The Air Brake was invented in 1869 by George Westinghouse. Before Westinghouse invented the air brake there were people on each carriage of the train called brakemen. When someone blew a whistle all of the brakemen would simultaneously apply their own brake or each carriage. There was an earlier model of air brake called the direct air brake, but Westinghouse made the most important discovery of an invention called the triple valve. This triple valve and an auxiliary reservoir made the braking much more responsive and safe.

Innovation Function
The theory behind Train Air Braking systems is that they will stop a train faster and more efficiently than any other method. Basically when the driver of the train wants to stop he activates the brake valve. This brake valve activates the main reservoir which fills the Brake pipe with air, usually between 65-90psi. This pressured air then gets pumped into the triple valve which evenly distributes the flow of air to the brake cylinder which activates the brake blocks and effectively stops the train. The diagram below summarises the basic principle of an air brake.

Figure 1 – A modern day air brake exploded diagram. Image taken from:
It is important that the air pressure is distributed...
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