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A tie rod, nut, and bellows from a failed 610 mm (24 in.) diam tied universal expansion joint that carried tail gases consisting of N2 + O2 with slight traces of nitrogen oxides and water were examined. The materials were SA 193-B7 (AISI 4140), SA 194–214, and Incoloy 800H, respectively. Visual examination of the bellows revealed cracks in heavily cold-worked areas (both inside and outside) and considerable corrosion. SEM analysis showed a classical intergranular failure pattern with microcracking. The threaded tie rod microstructure contained spheroidized carbide that was more pronounced at the tie rod end of the failure. Energy-dispersive X-ray analysis of fracture surfaces from the bellows showed the presence of chlorine and sulfur. Failure of the bellows was attributed to stress-corrosion cracking, with chlorine and sulfur being the corroding agents. The rod damage was the result of failure of the bellows, which allowed escaping hot gases to impinge on the tie rods and heat them to approximately 595 deg C (1100 deg F). It was recommended that the insulation be analyzed to determine the origin of the chlorine and sulfur and that it be replaced if necessary.

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Ralph D. Bowman, Failure of a Tied Universal Expansion Joint, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 1, Edited By Khlefa A. Esaklul, ASM International, 1992, p 347–348,

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