Fatigue Fracture of a Fuel Line at a Butt Weld
A weld in a fuel-line tube broke after 159 h of engine testing. The 6.4-mm (0.25-in.) OD x 0.7-mm (0.028-in.) wall thickness tube and the end adapters were all of type 347 stainless steel. The butt joints between tube and end adapters were made by automated gas tungsten arc (orbital arc) welding. It was found that the tube had failed in the HAZ. Examination of a plastic replica of the fracture surface in a transmission electron microscope established that the crack origin was at the outer surface of the tube. The crack growth was by fatigue; closely spaced fatigue striations were found near the origin, and more widely spaced striations near the inner surface. The quality of the weld and the chemical composition of the tube both conformed to the specifications. However, the fuel-line assembly had vibrated excessively in service. The fuel-line fracture was caused by fatigue induced by severe vibration in service. Additional tube clamps were provided to damp the critical vibrational stresses. No further fuel-line fractures were encountered.