Locomotive Tyres

Some people don’t realise that steam locomotives, as well as other railway vehicles, have tyres. They are not pneumatic, as they are on cars, but are made of steel. The tyres wear with time, and it is much easier and cheaper to replace a tyre than a whole wheel.

It is important that the tyre doesn’t slip on the wheel, or, even worse, come off. Our locomotive uses a method known as “double snip” to fix the tyre to the wheel.

Wheel Tyre
Double Snip Method Of Fastening The Tyre To The Wheel

The inside of the tyre is machined to be slightly smaller than the wheel which will go inside it. This is known as an “interference fit”.

Machining the new tyre

The tyre is held laterally by two shoulders (or “snips”). To fit the tyre, it is heated in a specially designed hearth, which causes it to expand. When it has expanded enough, the wheel can be carefully lowered into the tyre. As the tyre cools, it will contract and grip the wheel. The tyre is removed in a similar way.

The hearth
Setting up the burners
The tyre is loose
The tyre and wheel are separate
The old tyre, showing the shoulders

When we had new tyres a few years ago, we had to have them made in South Africa. To have them fitted, we sent them to the South Devon Railway. They have a tyre heating ring that they acquired from the Great Western Railway workshops in Swindon. They kindly allowed us to take some photographs, and the video, to show the removal of the old tyres.

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