Experiments are reported wherein contact fatigue was brought about by the application of an oscillatory normal load between a ball and a flat specimen. Plots of the flat-specimen temperature versus time showed that a rapid temperature rise occurred in the initial stage of crack formation, and thus provided an early indication of fatigue. Thermal resistances were measured for the apparatus components as well as the specimen contact. Using these, it was possible to apply the measured flat-specimen temperature to obtain estimates of the contact temperature as well as the energy dissipation rate prior to the incidence of fatigue cracks. It was shown that the contact temperature did not rise sufficiently to produce annealing in the test specimens. Thus, toroidal rings of hardened and softened material in the stressed zone could not be attributed to thermal transformation of the bearing steel. It was also shown that energy dissipation due to cyclic loading varied in approximate exponential relationship with dynamic load, and decreased upon increase of static load when dynamic load was maintained constant.

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