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The authors have applied linear elastic fracture mechanics to an official accident investigation of a fatigue failure. A single-line component in the mechanical braking system controlling the descent of a cage in a mine shaft fractured; the cage failed to slow down and eighteen miners were killed by the impact. It is shown that significant perceptions of the events prior to fracture are possible using a fracture mechanics approach. A Paris-Erdogan analysis is performed to highlight the constraints and limitations of a fracture mechanics fatigue analysis when applied to a real engineering problem. The Markham accident was a landmark case study in that it stimulated a new philosophy with respect to brake design.
ferrous metallurgy, strain gages, axial and bend stresses, bending theory, fatigue, fracture mechanics, estimating lifetime
Lecturer on Materials, The Open University, Faculty of Technology, Milton Keynes,
Professor, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA