Brittle Fracture of a Ductile Iron Brake Drum by Thermal-Contraction Overload
A 58.4 cm (23 in.) diam heavy-duty brake drum component of a cable-wound winch broke into two pieces during a shutdown period. Average service life of these drums was two weeks; none had failed by wear. The drums were sand cast from ductile iron. During haul-out, the cable on the cable drum drove the brake drum, and resistance was provided by brake bands applied to the outside surface of the brake drum. Friction during heavy service was sufficient to heat the brake drum, clutch mount, and disk to a red color. Examination of the assembly indicated that the brake drum would cool faster than its mounts and would contract onto them. Brittle fracture of the brake drum occurred as a result of thermal contraction of the drum web against the clutch mount and the disk. The ID of the drum web was enlarged sufficiently to allow for clearance between the web and the clutch mount and disk at a temperature differential of up to 555 deg C (1000 deg F). With the adoption of this procedure, brake drums failed by wear only.