Secrets of Abraham Ganz’s train wheels enlightened by materials science methods

Ágnes Csanády, János Gábor, Péter Jenei, Jenő Gubicza, Péter János Szabó, Réka Fábián, György Radnóczi, Attila Lajos Tóth, Gábor Langer, Olga H. Krafcsik, Balázs Verő

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Case hardened, double-walled train wheel, produced in the foundry of Abraham Ganz in 1867 and used for long time on the railroad tracks, was studied and evaluated by modern methods of materials sciences. The investigations indicated the presence of 0.059m% antimony (Sb), distributed uniformly in the material of the wheel. This quantity is several times higher than the average Sb amounts (<0.01m%) of the other components get into the castings. Sb was detected even in the several mm thick crust; except in the outermost surface layer with < 1 μm thickness. Based on the 20th century comprehensive studies, the antimony content, detected in the wheel, was found to be ideal. In grey iron it is a powerful pearlite stabilizer which has favourable effects on its mechanical properties and serviceability. The investigation of the surface structure proved that the excellent hardness (~600 HV) at the crust surface was due to the “nano-composite” structure formed from the pearlite as a consequence of severe plastic deformation during service. This was also promoted by the high amount (4.09m%) of carbon present in the casting. The microstructure refinement during operation most probably contributes to the long service lifetime of the wheels. The secret of the Abraham Ganz’s train wheels is inherently present – besides the novel construction and production technology (case hardening) – in the above mentioned composition and the structure of the material.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterials Science, Testing and Informatics VIII
EditorsP.J. Szabó, T. Berecz, I.N. Orbulov, K. Májlinger, A. Csóré
PublisherTrans Tech Publications Ltd
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9783038357636
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017
Event10th Hungarian Conference on Materials Science, 2015 - Balatonalmádi, Hungary
Duration: Oct 10 2015Oct 13 2015

Publication series

NameMaterials Science Forum
ISSN (Print)0255-5476


Other10th Hungarian Conference on Materials Science, 2015



  • Abraham Ganz
  • Antimony
  • Case hardening
  • Dislocation
  • Double-walled train wheel
  • Ferrite-pearlite nano-composite
  • Intense plastic deformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this

Csanády, Á., Gábor, J., Jenei, P., Gubicza, J., Szabó, P. J., Fábián, R., Radnóczi, G., Tóth, A. L., Langer, G., Krafcsik, O. H., & Verő, B. (2017). Secrets of Abraham Ganz’s train wheels enlightened by materials science methods. In P. J. Szabó, T. Berecz, I. N. Orbulov, K. Májlinger, & A. Csóré (Eds.), Materials Science, Testing and Informatics VIII (pp. 55-60). (Materials Science Forum; Vol. 885). Trans Tech Publications Ltd.