Routine Taiwan Railway Authority (TRA) Depot daily exam on the 3rd July 78 failed one of our first locomotives into service for 'low cowcatcher'. Inspection by TRA depot and GEC engineers identified severe cracks in the cross-stretcher near the centre pivot (re section 1.1.7).
I immediately made arrangements to visually check all available service locomotives which revealed evidence of fracture on a further four cross-stretchers. In view of the potentially dangerous situation I advised the Taiwan Railway Authority to recall all GEC Traction locomotives from traffic for inspection purposes.
Detailed investigation of higher milage locomotives (>10000km) identified a defect in the Cor-ten steel plate used on the underframe in the region of the cross-stretcher. Failure had been accelerated by areas of poor weld penetration and rough fitting of the center pivot (re section 1·2.1).
A failure of this nature coupled with the railways need for motive power generated much discussion with TRA, their resident German consultants and their appointed specialists from the USA. Assistance from local and UK based specialists on metalogy and welding confirmed the conclusions of our failure mode analysis.
A re-design of the cross-stretcher to offset for poor material which we felt could be completed on site was proposed during a visit by Mr J Dowling Chief Mechanical Engineer GEC Traction Ltd.
A program for returning locomotives to traffic was drawn up, this along with assurances was conveyed to the Taiwan Railway Authority during a visit by Mr A.L.Fairbrother Technical Director GEC Traction Ltd.
I purchased material for the modification and recruited welders, burners and fitters locally, equipment was purchased or hired dependent on cost and availability. Jigs, fixtures and locomotive stands were made by the new recruits. Because of the climate and the materials involved I excersised great care in the purchase and storage of welding consumable electrodes as advised by the British Welding Institute. I gave particular attention to establishing weld procedures that minimised distortion and to maintaining welding standards.