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Wire ropes, pulleys, counterweights, and connecting systems are used for auto tensioning of contact wires of electric railways. A wire rope in one such auto tensioning system suffered premature failure. Failure investigation revealed fatigue cracks initiating at nonmetallic inclusions near the surface of individual wire strands in the rope. The inclusions were identified as Al-Ca-Ti silicates in a large number of stringers, and some oxide and nitride inclusions were also found. The wire used in the rope did not conform to the composition specified for AISI 316 grade steel, nor did it satisfy the minimum tensile strength requirements. Failure of the wire rope was found to be due to fatigue; however, the ultimate fracture of the rope was the result of overload that occurred after fatigue failure had reduced the number of wire strands supporting the load.

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