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The 4140 steel steering spindle on a tricycle agricultural field chemical applicator failed, causing the loss of the front wheel and overturn of the vehicle. The spindle was a solid 120 mm (4.75 in.) diam forging. It had been machined to 115 mm (4.5 in.) in diameter to fit tightly inside a collar at one point and to 90 mm (3.5 in.) for attachment to the steering mechanism at another. Visual examination showed that the spindle fractured at the fillet welds that attached it to the collar. Macrofractography and metallography revealed that the failure initiated at the root of a weld that bridged a wide gap. The most probable cause of failure was improper preheat during welding.

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