Fatigue Fracture of a Shaft for an Amusement Ride Because of Undercuts in Welds
An amusement ride failed when a component in the ride parted, permitting it to fly apart. The ride consisted of a central shaft supporting a spider of three arms, each of which was equipped with an AISI 1040 steel secondary shaft about which a circular platform rotated. The main shaft rotated at about 12 rpm and the platforms at a speed of 20 rpm. The accident occurred when one of the secondary shafts on the amusement ride broke. The point of fracture was adjacent to a weld that attached the shaft to a 16 mm thick plate, which in turn bore the platform support arms. Investigation (visual inspection, 0.4x magnification, and stress analysis) supported the conclusion that a likely cause for the fatigue failure was the combination of residual stresses generated in welding and centrifugal service stresses from operation that were accentuated by areas of stress concentration at the undercut locations. Without the excessive residual stress, the shaft dimensions appeared ample for the service load. Recommendations included applying the fillet weld with more care to avoid undercutting. The residual stresses could be minimized by pre-weld and post-weld heat application.