Fatigue Failure of a Diesel Engine Crankshaft
The crankshaft of a six cylinder, 225-hp diesel engine driving a small locomotive was examined. About nine months after installation a fall in oil pressure was traced to damage to No. 5 crank pin bearing. A small lip present on one side of the discontinuity apparently served to scrape the bearing material. The defect was stoned smooth, a new bearing fitted, and the engine returned to service. The engine performed satisfactorily for a further twelve months until fracture of the crankshaft through the No. 5 crank pin supervened. The fracture revealed a complex torsional fatigue failure. Microscopic examination revealed that the pin had been hard chromium plated and that the plating followed the curved edge of the outer extremity of the defect. This crank pin contained an inherent defect in the form of a slag inclusion or crack situated at the surface. That the crack only showed itself after a period of service suggests that initially it may have been slightly below the surface of the machined pin and some slight extension outwards took place in service.