Failure of a Truck-Engine Valve
The exhaust valve of a truck engine failed after 488 h of a 1000 h laboratory endurance test. The valve was made of 21-2 valve steel in the solution treated and aged condition and was faced with Stellite 12 alloy. The failure occurred by fracture of the underhead portion of the valve. Analysis (visual inspection, electron probe x-ray microanalysis, hardness testing, 4.5x fractograph) supported the conclusions that failure of the valve stem occurred by fatigue as a result of a combination of a nonuniform bending load, which caused a mild stress-concentration condition, and a high operating temperature in a corrosive environment. When the microstructure near the stem surface was examined, it was apparent that carbide spheroidization had occurred. Also, there was a coarsening of the carbide network within the austenite grains. The microstructure indicated that the underhead region of the valve was heated to about 930 deg C (1700 deg F) during operation. The cause of fatigue fracture, therefore, was a combination of non-uniform bending loads and overheating. No recommendations were made.