Failure of Copper Rivets Due to “Gassing”
A locomotive type boiler was fitted with a copper firebox of orthodox construction. Flanged tube- and firehole-plates were attached to a wrapper plate by means of copper rivets. Shortly after it was put into service the fireside heads of a number of rivets broke off at different parts of the seams. By the time the investigation was begun a total of fifty heads had broken off. Repairs had been effected from time to time by fitting screwed rivets, none of which gave trouble in service. Microscopic examination confirmed the fracture path to be wholly intergranular. In the region of the fracture the grain boundaries were delineated as a near-continuous network of cavities and films of oxide. It was evident that the failure of the rivets in service was attributable to intergranular weakness in the material due to gassing.