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Several wires in aluminum conductor cables fractured within 5 to 8 years of, service in Alaskan tundra. The cables were comprised of 19-wire strands; the wires were aluminum alloy 6201-T81. Visual and metallographic examinations of the cold-upset pressure weld joints in the wires established that the fractures were caused by fatigue loading attributable to wind/thermal factors at the joints. The grain flow at the joints was transverse to the wire axis, rendering the notches of the joints sensitive to fatigue loading. An additional contributory factor was intergranular corrosion, which assisted fatigue crack initiation/propagation. The failure was attributed to the departure of conductor quality from the requirements of ASTM B 398 and B 399, which specify that “no joints shall be made during final drawing or in the finished wire” and that the joints should not be closer than 15 m (50 ft). The failed cable did not meet either criterion. It was recommended that the replacement cable be inspected for strict compliance to ASTM requirements.

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