Failure of an Overhead Crane Drive Shaft Due to Rotating-Bending Fatigue
A 60.3 mm (2.375 in.) diam drive shaft in the drive train of an overhead crane failed. The part submitted for examination was a principal drive shaft that fractured near a 90 deg fillet where the shaft had been machined down to 34.9 mm (1.375 in.) to serve as a wheel hub. A 9.5 mm (0.375 in.) wide x 3.2 mm (0.125 in.) deep keyway was machined into the entire length of the hub, ending approximately 1.6 mm (0.062 in.) away from the 90 deg fillet. A second shaft was also found to have cracked at a change in diameter, where it was machined down to serve as the motor drive hub. Investigation (visual inspection, inspection records review, optical and scanning electron microscopy, and fractography) supported the conclusion that the fracture mode for both shafts was low-cycle rotating-bending fatigue initiating and propagating by combined torsional and reverse bending stresses. Recommendations included replacing all drive shafts with new designs that eliminated the sharp 90 deg chamfers in favor of a more liberal chamfer, which would reduce the stress concentration in these areas.