Case Studies

  • Sequential Gearbox Failure

    Mechanical Engineering / Metallurgical Engineer...
    It was reported that a failure of the internal components of a motorcycle sequential transmission resulted in a rear wheel lockup. The disassembled gearbox and its components were photographed and the images provided to RTI for analysis. A sequential manual transmission is a type of a manual gearbox in which the gear ratios can only be selected in sequence and does not mechanically allow the operator to skip gears during a shift. There are five major components in the sequential transmission. They are: Main shaft Counter shaft Output shaft Dog gears Selectable gears  
  • House Fire with Jury Verdict for the Defendant

    Electrical Engineering / Expert Witness / Fire,...
    In the early morning hours of spring 2006, a fire broke out at the house.The exact time that the fire started is unknown as the only occupants of the house were asleep at the time.  The fire was first reported by a neighbor who had been awakened by his dog at approximately 2:00 am and observed what appeared to him as flashes of light occurring near the neighbor’s house accompanied by loud popping noises.  911 was called as he was leaving his house to travel the approximately 0.2 miles up hill from his house to where the flashing and popping noises were in his vehicle.  The neighbor initially thought that an electrical transformer was producing the noise and flashes.  Upon arriving at the property at approximately 2:19 am, he observed that the house on fire.  Wh
  • Failure of a Power Station Cooling Tower

    Civil Engineering / Construction / Electrical E...
    RTI recently investigated component failures in two cells of an eight cell power station cooling tower. During an overnight shift at the power station, workers observed that water temperatures in the tower were not decreasing sufficiently. No alarms, notifications, or out-of-the-ordinary operations were detected. When workers inspected the tower they found that fan blades and pieces of carbon fiber driveshaft were scattered in and around the cooling tower. The motor fans in cells G and H were running but no air movement could be observed in either cell. Closer inspection revealed that the driveshaft in cell G and the fan blade assembly in cell H had failed catastrophically.
  • Automotive Electronics, Safety, and Reliability

    Electrical Engineering / Forensic Investigation...
    In recent years, manufacturers of passenger vehicles have heavily incorporated electronics in their vehicle lineups. These electronics of course include the in-car “infotainment” systems, but more important is the manufacturer’s tendency to rely on built in electronics, computers, and sensors to monitor the systems and alert the owner or the diagnostics team to what may be happening under the body work. While failure of in-car electronics such as GPS, radio, or even seat warmers do not spell disaster in terms of vehicle reliability and drivability, those units that monitor and control the functions of the engine, transmission, throttle, and in some extreme cases steering and braking, could show to be otherwise and possibly even be fatal.
  • Ship Design or Fabrication Problem? Analysis Trumps Conjecture in VLCC Bulkhead Failure

    Marine / Metallurgical Engineering
    We need a welding expert! The call came to our office from one of the world’s largest energy companies; we’ll call it the XYZ Co. One of their supertankers, a VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier), experienced a bulkhead failure during heavy seas while taking on ballast water. The crew saw that a center-line tank wasn’t filling with ballast water at the expected rate. Later the crew discovered that bulkhead perimeter welds had failed allowing water to leak into an empty adjacent compartment.
  • Infestation

    RTI was asked to carry out an investigation to determine the source of an insect infestation on board a ship carrying raw cane sugar in bulk.  After the ship arrived in the port of discharge in the Dominican Republic, the local authorities discovered three species of insect crawling about on deck, and prevented the vessel from discharging her cargo.  A total of eight days were lost at anchor at appreciable cost, until defumigation measures allowed the ship to finally deliver the cargo.