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An axle shaft in an open-pit mining truck hauling overburden failed after operating for 27,000 h. Previous failures had resulted from longitudinal shear, but this had not, bringing material quality into question. Chemical analysis verified that the part was SAE4340 Ni-Cr-Mo alloy steel and thus met material specification. The failure was a result of torsional fatigue in the tensile plane, originating from one of several gouges around the splined radius of the shaft. The fatigue crack progressed for a large number of cycles before final fracture. The shaft met metallurgical requirements and should have withstood normal operating conditions. The spacing of the gouge marks coincided with the spacing of the splines, indicative of careless assembly with the mating wheel gear.

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