Failure of a Retainer Spring Because of Cyclic Loading and Torsional Vibration
A valve-seat retainer spring (made of 0.23 mm thick 17-7 PH stainless steel) from a fuel control on an aircraft engine was found to be broken after 3980 h of service. The two inner tabs were found to be broken off. The part was revealed to be in relative rotation against its contacting member by the radial wear marks on the convex surface. Beach marks indicating that fatigue fracture had been initiated at the convex surface of the washer and had propagated across to the concave surface were revealed by examination of the fractured surfaces of the washer. The cracks were revealed to have originated in the 0.38-mm radius fillet between the tab and the body of the washer. It was interpreted from the analysis of the compound fracture that it was composed of fatigue fractures caused by the formed tab being loaded so as to compress the spring along the axis of its centerline and produce torsional vibrations. It was concluded that the two inner tabs had broken in fatigue as the result of cyclic loading that compressed and torsionally vibrated the spring. The fillets were replaced with slots to minimize stress concentration at the corners as a corrective measure.