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As the result of a leak detected in a plate-formed header at PENELEC'S Shawville Unit No. 3, an extensive failure investigation was initiated to determine the origin of cracking visible along the longitudinal weld seam. Fabricated from SA387-D material and designed for a superheater outlet temperature of 566 deg C, the 11.4 cm thick header had operated for approximately 187,000 h at the time of the failure. Discussion focuses on the results of a metallographic examination of boat samples removed from the longitudinal seam weldment in the vicinity of the failure and at other areas of the header where peak temperatures were believed to have been reached. The long-term mechanical properties of the service-exposed base metal and creep-damaged weld metal were determined by creep testing. Based on the utility's decision to replace the header within one to three years, an isostress overtemperature lead specimen approach was taken, whereby failure of a test specimen in the laboratory would precede failures in the plant. These tests revealed approximately a 2:1 difference in life for the base metal as compared to weld metal.

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