Improper Operating Conditions
A farm-silo hoist used as the power source for a homemade barn elevator failed catastrophically from destructive wear of the worm. The hoist mechanism consisted of a pulley attached by a shaft to a worm that, in turn, engaged and drove a worm gear mounted directly on the hoist drum shaft. The worm and the worm gear were made of leaded cold-drawn 1113 steel and class 35-40 gray iron (nitrided in an aerated salt bath) respectively. The gearbox was found to contain fragments of the worm teeth and shavings that resembled steel wool. More than half of the worm teeth were revealed to be sheared off to almost half the depth. It was revealed on investigation that the drive pulley had been replaced with a larger pulley that generated more power than the gearbox could handle, causing failure by adhesive wear of the steel worm.