Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Anoop K. Dhingra

Committee Members

Ronald Perez, Hugo Lopez


This thesis discusses the rolling contact fatigue of steel utilized in anti-friction bearings, also referred to as slewing bearings. These slewing bearings are utilized in cranes, excavators, wind turbines and other similar applications. Five materials composed of two different material types were tested. The two material types were high carbon steel and medium carbon alloy steel. The test specimens were processed from forged rolled rings. Two machines were evaluated a ZF-RCF and 3-Ball test machine. The evaluation was to determine which machine can best simulate the application in which the slewing bearing is utilized.

Initially, each specimen will be pretested to determine the appropriate testing direction from within the forged rolled rings. Pretesting is needed in order to establish consistent failure modes between samples. The primary goal of the test is to understand the life differences and failure modes between high carbon steel and medium carbon alloy steel. The high carbon steel ring was cut into two sections, one of which was stress relieved and the other was quenched and tempered. The medium carbon alloy steel was cut into three sections, all of which were quenched and tempered to different hardness levels. The test program was dynamically adjusted based upon the previous sample's life and load. An S-N curve was then established from the 5 materials tested at two target loads. The samples were run until the first sign of a crack was detected by an eddy current.

At the completion of the rolling contact test, select sample's microstructure was evaluated for crack initiation location. The selected samples were divided into four groups which represent different maximum shear stress levels. These samples displayed indications of material deformation in which the high carbon steel experienced an increased amount of cold work when compared to medium carbon alloy steel. The life of the high carbon steel was nearly equivalent to the expected life of the medium carbon alloy. The work hardening of the high carbon steel increased the surface hardness that exceeded the medium carbon alloy steel surface hardness.