A cost-effective method of experimentally determining rail vehicle dynamic parameters for use in analytical dynamic models has been developed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). In this method, the rail vehicle’s rigid body modes of vibration are manually excited and the corresponding resonant frequencies are measured. Using these frequencies, the equations of motion for the system are solved for the vehicle’s mass moments of inertias, center of gravity location, and suspension stiffness. This method of dynamic parameter identification was developed at AAR’s Transportation Technology Center, Pueblo, Colorado.

Compared to competing experimental methods, the AAR method offers the advantage of cost-effectiveness; it requires no expensive equipment and can be executed at remote locations.

This paper describes the AAR method for rail vehicle parameter identification. An example of its use in the characterization of an iron ore rail vehicle is presented. In addition, dynamic simulation results for a transit vehicle, characterized using the AAR method, are compared to track test data for validation.

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