Fatigue Fracture of a 15B41 Steel Connecting-Rod Cap
A connecting cap from a truck engine fractured after 65,200 km (40,500 mi) of normal service. The cap was made from a 15B41 steel forging and was hardened to 29 to 35 HRC. Visual examination of the fracture surface disclosed an open forging defect across one of the outer corners of the cap. The defect extended approximately 9.5 mm (3/8 in.) along the side of the cap. The fracture surface exhibited beach marks typical of fatigue. The surface of the defect was stained, indicating that oxidation occurred either in heat treatment or in heating during forging. Deep etching of the fracture surface revealed grain flow normal for this type of forging, but no visible defects. 400x metallographic examination of a section through the fracture surface showed that the microstructure was an acceptable tempered martensite. However, oxide inclusions were present at the fracture surface. This evidence supported the conclusion that fatigue fracture initiated at a corner of the cap from a forging defect that extended to the surface. Fatigue cracking was propagated by cyclic loading inherent in the part. Recommendations included more careful fluorescent magnetic-particle inspection of the forged surfaces before machining and before putting the part into service.