Stress-Corrosion Cracking of a T-Bolt
A T-bolt was part of the coupling for a bleed air duct of a jet engine on a transport plane. Specifications required that the 4.8 mm diam component be made of AISI type 431 stainless steel and heat treated to 44 HRC. The operating temperature of the duct is 425 to 540 deg C (800 to 1000 deg F), but that of the bolt is lower. The T-bolt broke after three years of service. The expected service life was equal to that of the aircraft. It was found that the bolt broke as a result of SCC. Thermal stresses were induced into the bolt by intermittent operation of the jet engine. Mechanical stresses were induced by tightening of the clamp around the duct, which in effect acted to straighten the bolt. The action of these stresses on the carbides that precipitated in the grain boundaries resulted in fracture of the bolt. Due to the operating temperatures of the duct near the bolt, the material was changed to A-286, which is less susceptible to carbide precipitation. The bolt is strengthened by shot peening and rolling the threads after heat treatment. Avoiding temperatures in the sensitizing range is desirable, but difficult to ensure because of the application.