Heat exchangers, steam generators, and other pressure vessels in nuclear power plants are equipped with bolted closures for the purpose of in-service inspection and maintenance. The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code specifies that all Class 1 components meet the fatigue life requirements for level A and B service conditions. In the case of bolted closures, it is often found that the bolt/stud is the most critical part. In many situations, the bolts fail to meet the fatigue requirements for the design life of the equipment. In such cases, the bolts can be replaced after certain duration based upon their fatigue life. However, the mating threads in the flange (which is an integral part of the vessel) are still a concern. While the replacement of the bolts is relatively easy and inexpensive, the corrective action (e.g., replacement or repair) for the flange is usually difficult and expensive, or impossible. Hence, it is important to have a reasonable estimate of the fatigue life of internal threads to alleviate or minimize the concern. In this paper, a simplified approach is presented for this purpose. Considering various bolt sizes, commonly used thread series, and typical Class 1 component materials, it is shown that the fatigue life of the internal threads is about three times the fatigue life of the bolt threads. This conclusion greatly reduces or eliminates the concern for in-service replacement or repair of the components with internal threads.

ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, 1995, Section III, Division 1.
ASME B1.1, 1989, “Unified Inch Screw Threads,” Revision 1 of ANSI B1.1, 1982.
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