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Sudden and unexplained bearing cap bolt fractures were experienced with reduced-shank design bolts fabricated from 42 CrMo 4 steel, quenched and tempered to a nominal hardness of 38 to 40 HRC. Fractographic analysis provided evidence favoring stress-corrosion cracking as the operating transgranular fracture failure mechanism. Water containing H7S was subsequently identified as the aggressive environment that precipitated the fractures in the presence of high tensile stress. This environment was generated by the chemical breakdown of the engine oil additive and moisture ingress into the normally sealed bearing cap chamber surrounding the bolt shank. A complete absence of fractures in...

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