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Failures of various types of hydraulic couplings used to connect pipes in a naval vessel are described and used to illustrate some of the general procedures for failure analysis. Cracking of couplings, which were manufactured from nickel-aluminum- bronze extruded bar, occurred in both seawater and air environments. Cracks initiated at an unusually wide variety of sites and propagated in either longitudinal or circumferential directions with respect to the axis of the couplings. Fracture surfaces were intergranular and exhibited little or no sign of corrosion (for couplings cracked in air), and there was very limited plasticity. Macroscopic progression markings were observed on fracture surfaces of several couplings but were not generally evident. At very high magnifications, numerous slip lines, progression markings, and striations were observed. In a few cases, where complete separation had occurred in service, small areas of dimpled overload fracture were observed. It was concluded from these observations, and from comparisons of cracks produced in service with cracks produced by laboratory testing under various conditions, that cracking had occurred by fatigue. The primary cause of failure was probably the unanticipated presence of high-frequency stress cycles with very low amplitudes, possibly due to vibration, resonance, or acoustic waves transmitted through the hydraulic fluid. Secondary causes of failure included the presence of high tensile residual stresses in one type of coupling, undue stress concentrations at some of the crack-initiation sites, and overtorquing of some couplings during installation. Recommendations on ways to prevent further failures based on these causes are discussed.

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S.P. Lynch, D.P. Edwards, R.B. Nethercott, J.L. Davidson, Failure of Nickel-Aluminum-Bronze Hydraulic Couplings, with Comments on General Procedures for Failure Analysis, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Offshore, Shipbuilding, and Marine Equipment, ASM International, 2019,

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