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A 4340 steel shaft, the driving member of a large rotor subject to cyclic loading and frequent overloads, broke after three weeks of operation. The driving shaft contained a shear groove at which the shaft should break if a sudden high overload occurred, thus preventing damage to an expensive gear mechanism. The rotor was subjected to severe chatter, which was an abnormal condition resulting from a series of continuous small overloads occurring at a frequency of around three per second. Investigation (visual inspection, hardness testing, and hot acid etch images) supported the conclusion that the basic failure mechanism was...

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