Stress-Corrosion Cracking of Stainless Steel Bolts
Stainless steel bolts broke after short-term exposure in boiler feed-pump applications. Specifications required that the bolts be made of a 12% Cr high-strength steel with a composition conforming to that of AISI type 410 stainless steel. Several bolts from three different installations were examined. It was found that fracture of the bolts was by intergranular stress corrosion. A metallic copper-containing antiseizure compound on the bolts in a corrosive medium set up an electro-chemical cell that produced trenchlike fissures or pits for fracture initiation. Because the bolts were not subjected to cyclic loading, fatigue or corrosion fatigue was not possible. To prevent reoccurrence, bolts were required to conform to the specified chemical composition. The hardness range for the bolts was changed from 35 to 45 HRC to 18 to 24 HRC. Petroleum jelly was used as an antiseizure lubricant in place of the copper-containing compound. As a result of these changes, bolt life was increased to more than three years.