Premature Engine Failure Due to Improper Surface Finish Caused by Carbon Flotation
Nodular cast iron crankshafts and their main-bearing inserts were causing premature failures in engines within the first 1600 km (1000 mi) of operation. The failures were indicated by internal noise, operation at low pressure, and total seizing. Concurrent with the incidence of engine field failures was a manufacturing problem: the inability to maintain a similar microfinish on the cope and drag sides of a cast main-bearing journal. Investigation supported the conclusion that the root cause of the failure was carbon flotation due to the crankshafts involved in the failures showing a higher-than-normal carbon content and/or carbon equivalent. Larger and more numerous cope side graphite nodules broke open, causing ferrite caps or burrs. They then became the mechanism of failure by breaking down the oil film and eroding the beating material. A byproduct was heat, which assisted the failure. Recommendations included establishing closer control of chemical composition and foundry casting practices to alleviate the carbon-flotation form of segregation. Additionally, some nonmetallurgical practices in journal-finishing techniques were suggested to ensure optimal surface finish.