Contact Fatigue Failure of A Bull Gear
A bull gear from a coal pulverizer at a utility failed by rolling-contact fatigue as the result of continual overloading of the gear and a nonuniform, case-hardened surface of the gear teeth. The gear consisted of an AISI 4140 Cr-Mo steel gear ring that was shrunk fit and pinned onto a cast iron hub. The wear and pitting pattern in the addendum area of the gear teeth indicated that either the gear or pinion was out of alignment. Beach marks observed on the fractured surface of the gear indicated that fatigue was the cause of the gear failure. Similar gears should be inspected carefully for signs of cracking or misalignment. Ultrasonic testing is recommended for detection of subsurface cracks, while magnetic particle testing will detect surface cracking. Visual inspection can be used to determine the teeth contact pattern.