Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just Freaking Scary

A source sent me these photos of a broken brake assembly or friction ring.

The crack, which appears white in the top photo, runs the entire way around the inner part of brake disc assembly inside the bolts and a little bit outside of them in the upper left. The center part is separated from the friction ring (the shiny outer part), as you can see in the black space in the upper left, just outside the bolted area.

The source said that after tapping the cracked part with a hammer, it fell completely off into the pieces you see in the latter photos.

It was found Friday morning on car 3273 at Shady Grove during an daily safety test and external visual inspection during which there was an emphasis on looking for things like this, the source said.

Adding to the unease of a brake cracking like this, the source said that since there is no rust along the crack, the failure was probably sudden and not over time. Records show the part was put into service on July 15 and had been last inspected on Dec. 10.

The source said his best guess as to what's going on is that Metro got a batch of bad parts.

The source also pointed to the pocking visible on the cast metal, saying that to him, it looked like bad quality, probably from a low-bidder.

He said that given the amount of parts Metro orders, they are bound to be bad batches from time to time.

Metro seems to contradict this notion, with their flack Dan Stessel telling the Washington Post that the "incidents involve different designs and different manufacturers."

A retired Metro source who used to work in car maintenance said they refuses to ride Metro after seeing the quality of parts that were being put on the trains.

Kind of scary.

The same morning this brake was found, there was another friction ring incident on a train carrying people, and that afternoon, Metro announced an inspection of all 2000, 3000 and 4000 series cars, 464 in total.

Back on Dec. 20, there was another friction ring incident during the commute that sent one of these huge metal slabs flying down the tracks and into the third rail trapping hundreds in the tunnel.

Yesterday, Metro announced the inspections had been completed and said they had replaced more than 290 friction rings.

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