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To forged AISI 4140 steel trailer kingpins fractured after 4 to 6 months of service. Fractographic and metallographic examination revealed that cracks were present in the spool-flange shoulder region of the defective kingpins prior to installation on the trailers. The cracks grew and coalesced during service. Consideration of the manufacturing process suggested that the cracks were the result of overheating of the kingpin blanks prior to forging, which was exacerbated during forging by deformation heating in the highly-strained region. This view was supported by results of two types of tensile tests conducted near the incipient melting temperature at the grain boundaries. All kingpins made by the supplier of the fractured ones were ultrasonically inspected and six more anticipated to fail were found. It was recommended that the heating of forging blanks be more carefully controlled, especially with respect to the accuracy of the optical pyrometer temperature readout. Also, procedures must be developed such that forging blanks that trigger the over-temperature alarm are reliably and permanently removed from the production line.

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