Fatigue Fracture of a Cast Stainless Steel Lever
To ensure no malfunctions and although there were no apparent problems, a main fuel control was returned to the factory for examination after service on a test aircraft engine that had experienced high vibrations. When the fuel control was disassembled, a lever, cast from AMS 5350 (AISI type 410) stainless steel that was through-hardened to 26 to 32 HRC and passivated, was shown to be cracked. The crack initiated at the sharp corner of the elongated milled slot and propagated across to the outer wall. The sections around the crack were spread about 30 deg apart, showing the fracture surface under investigation had beach marks initiating at the sharp corner along the milled slot. Changes in frequency or amplitude of vibration caused different rates of propagation, resulting in a change in pattern. This evidence supported the conclusion that the lever failed in fatigue as a result of excessive vibration of the fuel control on the test engine. Recommendations included redesign of the lever with a large radius in the corner where cracking originated. This would reduce the stress-concentration factor significantly, thus minimizing the susceptibility of the lever to fatigue.