Fatigue Cracking of a Forged 4337 Steel Master Connecting Rod Because of Nonmetallic Inclusions
The master connecting rod of a reciprocating aircraft engine revealed cracks during routine inspection. The rods were forged from 4337 (AMS 6412) steel and heat treated to a specified hardness of 36 to 40 HRC. H-shaped cracks in the wall between the knuckle-pin flanges were revealed by visual examination. The cracks were originated as circumferential cracks and then propagated transversely into the bearing-bore wall. No inclusions in the master rod were detected by magnetic-particle and x-ray inspection. Three large inclusions lying approximately parallel to the grain direction and fatigue beach marks around two of the inclusions were revealed by macroscopic examination of the fracture surface. Large nonmetallic inclusions that consisted of heavy concentrations of aluminum oxide (Al2O3) were revealed by microscopic examination of a section through the fracture origin. The forging vendors were notified about the excess size of the nonmetallic inclusions in the master connecting rods and a nondestructive-testing procedure for detection of large nonmetallic inclusions was established.