Fatigue Fracture of 1045 Steel U-Bolts on a Tractor Fitting
SAE grade 5 U-bolts were used to fasten auxiliary dual wheels to the axles on a farm tractor. Under typical farm usage, the bolts are expected to have infinite life. However, several U-bolts made of 29 mm diam rod broke after less than 100 h of service. The bolt legs in which the failures occurred were all in the same position relative to the direction of wheel rotation. Visual examination showed the break was a fairly flat transverse fracture in the threaded section between the washer and the nut. The appearance of the fracture surfaces was characteristic of failure by low-cycle fatigue, with a smooth matte fatigue failure region showing beach marks and generally extending over about 40 to 60% of the fracture surface, which indicated severe overload. The point of initiation of fatigue was at the root of the last thread at the edge of the nut on the side toward this washer. The U-bolts fractured in fatigue because the bolt material had poor hardenability relative to the diam of the bolts. The bolt material was changed from 1045 steel to 1527 steel, a warm-finished low-alloy steel. The diameter of the bolts was reduced to 27.2 mm and the threads were rolled rather than cut.