Ultrasonic Examination for Detection of Cracks in Roof Transport Wheel Axles

The sudden fracture of a Roof Transport Wheel axle at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington left a portion of that axle on the trackway, halted movement of the roof, and raised urgent questions regarding the condition of the remaining 127 axles that facilitate repositioning of the stadium roof. Initial ultrasonic examinations failed to detect cracks in additional axles; however, an altered procedure identified suspected crack initiations that lead to removal and replacement of several axles. Multiple techniques were explored in development of procedures to interrogate and evaluate the geometrically complex axles. Analysis of axles following removal, including ultrasonic and magnetic particle examinations, as well as exposure of crack for determination of depth and character, allowed comparison of nondestructive assessment to the actual condition. Procedures for future examinations were enhanced, and methods of evaluation improved based on information derived in the forensic study.

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