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Two outer valve springs made from air-melted 6150 pretempered steel wire broke during production engine testing. The springs were 50 mm in OD and 64 mm in free length, had five coils and squared-and-ground ends, and were made of 5.5 mm diam wire. It was revealed that fracture was nucleated by an apparent longitudinal subsurface defect. The defect was revealed by microscopic examination to be a large pocket of nonmetallic inclusions (alumina and silicate particles) at the origin of the fracture. Partial decarburization of the steel was observed at the periphery of the pocket of inclusions. Torsional fracture was indicated by the presence of beach marks at a 45 deg angle to the wire axis. It was established that the spring fractured by fatigue nucleated at the subsurface defect.

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