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Rivets from the longitudinal seam of the terminal shell ring of a 12 year old Lancashire boiler broke off easily during examination. Cleavage fractures indicated a brittle material. Microstructure of a sectioned rivet head was typical of a normal rimming steel except the ferrite crystals contained numerous nitride needles. Their existence indicated an abnormally high nitrogen content. If such a steel is heated for a lengthy period to a temperature of that prevailing in a boiler, precipitation of the nitrides may be expected, with consequent embrittlement. In this case, embrittlement of this type was the primary cause of the breaking off of the type rivet heads. Nothing was observed in the course of the examination that suggested caustic cracking.

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Boiler Drum and Shell Assemblies, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Power Generating Equipment, ASM International, 2019

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