Sudden Catastrophic Failure Possible

Does your company have a patented track monorail or crane system using “Arch Beams” (also known as castellated beam, open web or zipper-track? If so, you should be aware of the dangers of operating this equipment.
This type of crane and monorail track has not been manufactured since 1962, which means that all current arch beams were produced and in service for over 55 years ago.   So it is a certainty that 55-year-old Arch Beam units are well beyond their safe working life.

in the past, serrated style track was manufactured by most major monorail manufacturers. After years in service, it was discovered that the bending forces imposed by the wheels loading the patented high carbon lower flange, between the serrations, subject the welded “arched” areas to fatigue. The welds weaken over time and experience sudden Martensitic Failure, resulting in the bottom rail peeling away from the web plate.  This failure can occur without warning and result in a catastrophic load drop failure with potential for fatal consequences.  This safety issue should be brought to the attention of all users of this style of track.  Because all manufacturers of this style of tracks recommend the immediate replacement, CRANE 1 also recommends this action as well.

In 2004, Gorbel’s Cleveland Tramrail issued a Dealer Memorandum requesting that dealers notify companies with Arch Beam style patented track monorail and crane systems in their facilities and warn them of the dangers of age and fatigue in the welds.  To date, with the exception of a few customers, this warning has gone unheeded.  Gorbel, Inc. does not recommend any use of the Arch Beam in any type of application and will not ship any repair parts for these systems.

Cleveland Arch Beam was last produced in 1962, over fifty-five years ago.  The former owners of Cleveland Tramrail® made this same recommendation in 1992 stating:

  • Loading Tables in old catalogs were calculated for the new beam as built at that time.
  • As of this date (March 2, 1992), all Arch Beam should be replaced, and De-Rating of capacity is no longer advised.

WARNING SIGNS TO LOOK FOR . . . 

Companies need to be aware of the possible dangers posed by age and fatigue in the welds of Arch Beams.  Most users today are unaware of hidden failures and potential danger. Keep an eye out for these warning signs of components at risk of failure:

  • Cracks in welds and lower T Sections
  • Cracked lower rail sections
  • Oxidation of materials (Rust)
  • Tracks with raised tread worn away
  • Worn castings

Need to continue using the system?

Obviously, our recommendation is to replace the systems as soon as possible, but as a stopgap protective measure, we recommend that monthly inspections of all welds and components be performed on a monthly basis incorporating NDT methods with any questionable sections of track being removed immediately.  In addition, we recommend that the system is used only for intermittent, light duty service with all operators warned of the potential hazard and what symptoms to watch out for.