How to Specify Rubber Door Seals for Passenger Rail Cars
President of International Sales, Elasto Proxy
Every door seal is different. Then there are custom components that must meet rigorous requirements. For the mass transit industry, sealing solutions require technical design and custom fabrication of the highest quality. Such was the case with a car builder who needed to retrofit passenger doors on Amtrak trains in the Northeastern U.S.
Bombardier Retrofits Rail Cars
Several years ago, Bombardier asked Elasto Proxy to redesign a complex door seal. The design and delivery deadlines were tight, and the new seal needed to meet all of the old seal’s requirements. Shrinkage, weathering, part usage and thermal expansion were just some of the sealing challenges that our technical services team had to consider.
Selecting the right rubber compound was important, too. Neoprene, a synthetic material that offers a balanced combination of properties, was the best choice. Useful over a wide temperature range, this versatile polymer displays outstanding physical toughness and resists degradation from sun, ozone, and weather. Neoprene compounds also resist burning better than exclusively hydrocarbon rubbers.
Rubber Seals and Human Health
Because rubber compounds can affect human health, the mass transit needs door seals that meet standards for fire, smoke and toxicity (FST). Railcar designers prefer rubbers that are lightweight, but some combustion reactions produce toxins that endanger passenger health and safety. North American specifications differ from European standards, and cities such as Chicago have their own FST regulations.
There are also industry standards to consider. For example, Bombardier SMP-800 C limits the concentration of toxic gases that can be generated by materials used in ground transportation vehicles. ASTM E162 and ASTM E662 from ASTM International define standard test methods for flammability and smoke density.
Product Testing and Passenger Safety
Companies that manufacture railway car doors perform product testing, too. For example, door manufacturers use pull tests to ensure that passengers can extract items of clothing that become stuck between closed doors. Every project has its own platform, but the goal of each “open-shut” test is to demonstrate that fabric from your shirt or jacket won’t stay trapped – and trap you!
Sealing suppliers need to understand that railcar doors must shut tightly enough to keep out wind and weather – but not so tightly that a closed door endangers passenger safety. Every door seal is different, but car builders such as Bombardier understand the uniform importance of passenger health and safety, regardless of where their rail transportation vehicles will be used.
Meet Elasto Proxy at CRTS
For over 20 years, Elasto Proxy has provided the mass transit industry with high-quality, low-volume rubber products such as gaskets, hose protectors, cable cleats and clamps, door and window seals, and seat molding. Next month, our co-owners and co-founders, Doug and Donna Sharpe, will attend the CRTS tradeshow in China along with Andrew Yang, Elasto Proxy’s in-country Sales Representative.
Will you attend Asia’s leading rail transit exhibition, too? If your tradeshow plans include CRTS, I hope you’ll visit Elasto Proxy in Booth A030. In the meantime, please comment on this blog entry if you have questions about how to specify rubber door seals for the mass transit industry.