Stress corrosion cracking involves the slow growth of small, often microscopic, cracks through a metal part in a corrosive environment. The cracking can continue to the point that the part fails suddenly and unexpectedly even though it still appears new and in good condition.
My first experience with stress corrosion cracking happened in the Charleston harbor when the stainless steel rudder suddenly separated from a sailboat during moderate winds. What had been a pleasant evening sail turned instantly into being in a difficult to control boat in the middle of the busy shipping channel. The rudder remained attached only (more…)