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A combination of adverse factors was present in the disruption of a turbo-alternator gearbox. The major cause was the imposition of a gross overload far in excess of that for which the gearbox was designed. The contributory factors were a rim material (EN9 steel) that was inherently notch-sensitive and liable to rupture in a brittle manner. Discontinuities were present in the rims formed by the drain holes drilled in their abutting faces, and possibly enhanced by the stress-raising effect of microcracks in the smeared metal at their surfaces It is probable that the load reached a value in excess of the yield point within the delay time of the material so when the fracture was initiated, it was preceded by several microcracks giving rise to the propagation of a brittle fracture.

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