7 Ways to Avoid Bolted Joint Failures in the Rail Industry

Bolted joint failures and non-accident releases (NARs) are costly, dangerous, and usually avoidable. Often stemming from leaks, defective equipment, improper gasket installation, or simple human error, these failures can be prevented with proper gasket fabrication, manufacturing, and bolted joint installation training.

By standardizing gasket installation techniques, all workers can be uniformly trained to learn proper installation and maintenance processes. Gasket Resources Inc. (GRI®) offers hands-on training for customers and their teams, highlighting the best practices for bolt tightening, torque control, and other NARs-preventing measures.


Before diving into expert-level training, here are seven simple ways to avoid non-accident releases:

  1. Choose the proper fastener — From nuts and bolts to specialized washers, gasket fasteners are available in a wide variety of models. It’s critical to select the correct device, size, and thread to uniformly distribute stress throughout the fasteners in your specific application.
  2. Lubricate your fasteners, not the gasket — Applying lubrication to the bolts and nut facing eases gasket installation and prevents lubricant from accumulating on the sealing surface of the gasket and flange.
  3. Ensure the old gasket has been removed properly — Inspect the flange and clean it if necessary before installing the new gasket.
  4. Use the proper gasket for the service condition — Designed to serve a variety of applications, gaskets come in many materials and constructions. Service considerations such as environment, temperature, pressure, and media will all influence what type of gasket to select for your application.
  5. Use a through-hardened steel washer — Hardened washers increase surface area, maintain tension, and control torque when fasteners exert clamping force on the gasket.
  6. Download a free Gasket Installation Worksheet— To ensure the best seal possible, follow the recommended gasket installation procedures including torque values and bolt tightening sequences for your flange size and pressure class.
  7. Use torque control — A properly tensioned bolt works at its optimum efficiency. If the tension is too low, the nut could vibrate or work loose. If the tension is too high (overstretched), the bolt may yield. Every bolt has a correct torque/tension elasticity range. It is important to have this information available in critical services to be safe, efficient, and economical.

GRI provides a full-service gasket installation training program for companies looking to standardize their gasket equipment and process.

Our team of experts is available to review service conditions such as temperature, pressure, and chemicals in order to determine which gasket material is the best to use across all of your commodities.

To avoid NARs, especially those involving rail-tank car gaskets, GRI has found a simple solution using a color-coded material identification system called Identa-Seal®. To learn more about the benefits of this solution, download GRI’s latest rail-tank car case study, “Avoid NARs with Identa-Seal®.