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A cadmium-plated 4340 Ni-Cr-Mo steel ballast elbow assembly was submitted for failure analysis to determine the element or radical present in an oxidation product found inside the elbow assembly. Energy-dispersive x-ray analysis in the SEM showed that iron was the predominant species, presumably in an oxide form. The inside surface had the appearance of typical corrosion products. Hardness measurements indicated that the 4340 steel was heat treated to a strength of approximately 862 MPa (125 ksi). It was concluded that the oxide detected on the ballast elbow was iron oxide. The possibility that the corrosion products would eventually create a blockage of the affected hole was great considering the small hole diameter (4.2 mm, or 0.165 in.). It was recommended that a quick fix to stop the corrosion would be to apply a corrosion inhibitor inside the hole. This, however, would cause the possibility of inhibitor buildup and the eventual clogging of the hole. A change in the manufacturing process to include a cadmium plating on the hole inside surface was recommended. This was to be accomplished in accordance with MIL specification QQ-P-416, Type II, Class 1. A material change to 300-series stainless steel was also recommended.

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