Cracking of a Pressure Vessel Due to Penetration by Solder
A portable propane container with a name-plate soldered onto it exploded in service. When the vessel was inspected afterwards, it was found to have developed a crack in the top end plate. A portion of the end plate cut out to include the midlength and one termination of the crack was examined microscopically. This revealed that the crack was associated with intergranular penetration by molten metal. The microstructure in general was indicative of a good-quality mild steel. It was evident from that solder that was responsible for the penetration and that fused brass from the hand wheel had not played any part. Tensile stress was present at the time of the failure sufficiently high to enable solder penetration to take place. The use of soft solder as a medium for attaching name-plates directly on to stressed steel parts is not recommended. It would be preferable to use a welded-on patch plate or to employ one of the high-strength, non-metallic adhesives.