Fracture of Cast Steel Equalizer Beams
Two sand-cast low-alloy steel equalizer beams (ASTM A 148, grade 105-85) designed to distribute the load to the axles of a highway truck broke after an unreported length of service. Normal service life would have been about 805,000 km (500,000 mi) of truck operation. Investigation (visual inspection, chemical analysis, tensile testing, unetched 65x and 1% nital etched 65x magnification) supported the conclusions that the steel was too soft for the application – probably due to improper heat treatment. Fracture of the equalizer beams resulted from growth of mechanical cracks that were formed before the castings were heat treated. Recommendations included the following changes in processing: better gating and risering in the foundry to achieve sounder castings; better shakeout practice to avoid mechanical damage; better inspection to detect imperfections; and normalizing and tempering to achieve better mechanical properties.