Wear and Friction Modeling on Lifeboat Launch Systems

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Thomas, Ben ; Hadfield, Mark ; Austen, S. (2010)

The RNLI provides search and rescue cover along the UK and RoI coast using a variety of lifeboats\ud and launch techniques. In locations where there is no natural harbour it is necessary to use a slipway\ud to launch the lifeboat into the sea. Lifeboat slipway stations consist of an initial section where the\ud boat is held on rollers followed by an inclined keelway lined with low friction composite materials,\ud the lifeboat is released from the top of the slipway and proceeds under its own weight into the water.\ud The lifeboat is later recovered using a winch line. It is common to manually apply grease to the\ud composite slipway lining before each launch and recovery in order to ensure sufficiently low friction\ud for successful operation. With the introduction of the Tamar class lifeboat it is necessary to upgrade\ud existing boathouses and standardise slipway operational procedures to ensure consistent operation.\ud The higher contact pressures associated with the new lifeboat have led to issues of high friction and\ud wear on the composite slipway linings and the manual application of grease to reduce friction is to be\ud restricted due to environmental impact and cost factors. This paper presents a multidisciplinary\ud approach to modelling slipway panel wear and friction using tribometer testing in conjunction with\ud finite element analysis and slipway condition surveys to incorporate common real-world effects such\ud as panel misalignments. Finally, it is shown that a freshwater lubrication system is effective,\ud reducing cost and environmental impacts while maintaining good friction and wear performance.
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