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Abstract

A 140 ft. (42.7 m) long boom on a dragline crane used in coal strip-mining operations failed. One of the principal load-bearing longitudinal beams or chords of the trussed boom had fractured adjacent to a bolt hole at a location about halfway along the length of the boom. Over the lifetime of the crane, several repairs had been made to the boom. At least a year before the failure, a reinforcing gusset plate had been bolted and welded to this chord at this location. Stereomicroscopy revealed microcracks in the weld metal. A fatigue crack 45 mm (1.8 in.) long was observed to emanate from this microcrack. Scanning electron microscopy showed an overload crack extended across the remaining cross section of the chord. It was concluded that the presence of the bolt hole used to attach the gusset plate to the chord created a stress riser adjacent to the hole. Repeated high tensile stresses on the chord during the lifting of enormous loads initiated a fatigue crack in the weld region adjacent to the bolt hole.

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Robert A. McCoy, Failure Analysis of a Collapsed Crane Boom, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Construction, Mining, and Agricultural Equipment, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.conag.c9001524

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