Fatigue Cracking of a Stainless Steel Elbow Assembly at a Welded Joint in a High-Stress Region
A welded elbow assembly (AISI type 321 stainless steel, with components joined with ER347 stainless steel filler metal by gas tungsten arc welding) was part of a hydraulic-pump pressure line for a jet aircraft. The other end of the tube was attached to a flexible metal hose, which provided no support and offered no resistance to vibration. The line was leaking hydraulic fluid at the nut end of the elbow. Investigation supported the conclusion that failure was by fatigue cracking initiated from a notch at the root of the weld and was propagated by cyclic loading of the tubing as the result of vibration and inadequate support of the hose assembly. Recommendations included changing the joint design from a cylindrical lap joint to a square-groove butt joint. Also, an additional support was recommended for the hose assembly to minimize vibration at the elbow.