Fatigue Failure of Malleable Iron Diesel-Engine Rocker Levers Originating at Spiking Defects
Several diesel-engine rocker levers (malleable iron similar to ASTM A 602, grade M7002) failed at low hours in overspeed, over-fuel, highly loaded developmental engine tests. Identical rocker levers had performed acceptably in normal engine tests. The rocker levers were failing through the radius of an adjusting screw arm. The typical fracture face exhibited two distinct modes of crack propagation: the upper portion indicated overload at final fracture, whereas the majority of the fracture suggested a fatigue fracture. Investigation (visual inspection, 1.5x/30x/60x magnification, and nital etched 300x magnification) supported the conclusion that the rocker levers failed in fatigue, with casting defects, or spiking, acting as stress raisers to initiate failures in highly loaded engine tests. Recommendations included shot peening of the levers as an interim measure to reduce the possibility of failure and redesign to increase the cross-sectional area of the levers.