Cause & Effect: Corrosion in Amusement Rides



Corrosion on carnival/amusement rides is not only common, but it also can cause catastrophic failures as most recently seen in the Ohio State Fair accident which resulted in several injuries and one casualty. Not only is Steel City NDT LLC capable of testing for corrosion, but we are also able to tell you the extent of the corrosion.

  • Causes of Corrosion on Amusement Rides

  1. Corrosion is an electrochemical reaction that appears in a number of different forms
  2. A major cause of corrosion in amusement rides is due to acidic substances, most commonly rain, that creates rust over time
  3. Rust is the result of corroding steel, which takes place when the iron particles are exposed to oxygen and moisture (even humidity)
  4. When iron particles are exposed to oxygen, they become oxidized creating a cathodic area
  5. A corrosion pit is then formed where the affected iron particles were, and where they are now is called the corrosion product, or rust


  • Effects of Corrosion on Amusement Rides

  1. A decrease of tensile strength is a key effect of corrosion. The affected areas become thinned out due to corrosion, thus reducing the member’s maximum load threshold
  2. A member containing pitting corrosion is known to have a 2.5 times greater maximum load carrying capacity reduction
  3. A wider, larger member is said to have a lower stress threshold for crack initiation than that of a much smaller, thinner member when exposed to corrosion
  4. When pitting corrosion is involved, there is a greater negative impact on buckling strength


  • How Steel City NDT LLC Can Help

With the most recent accident at the Ohio State Fair, it was known that the specific ride which failed only underwent a visual examination. Not only this, but there are exponentially fewer inspectors than there are amusement rides in Ohio alone. Think about this from a Nationwide standpoint and you can see the problem immediately.

At Steel City NDT LLC, we offer a wide variety of inspection methods which can assist in not only locating corrosion, but determine the extent of corrosion within a majority of the members. Methods including, but not limited to, Ultrasonic Testing, Dye Penetrant Testing, and Magnetic Particle Testing will show anything happening beneath the surface (such as corrosion that cannot be seen with the naked eye). Had the ride at the Ohio State Fair been inspected with any of these methods, the failure could have been avoided altogether. Please e-mail us at or call us at 855-638-2489 if a new or existing ride has not undergone an inspection within the past year.


Cause & Effect: Corrosion in Piping

Leaky Pipe 2

Corrosion in piping is not only common, but it also can cause catastrophic failures in industrial, commercial, and residential settings. Not only is Steel City NDT LLC capable of testing for corrosion, but we are also able to tell you the extent of the corrosion.

  • Causes of Corrosion

  1. pH of the medium contained within the piping system
  2. Temperature of the medium – The hotter the water, the more pronounced the corrosion
  3. Velocity of the medium – Not only can excessive velocity cause corrosion, but sudden changes in direction due to elbows or turns can also do the same
  4. Chemical make up – If referring to a water piping system, things like excessive calcium can cause buildup and eventually corrosion
  5. Oxygen content – Oxygen is another thing that corrodes and degrades metals by converting the metal to rust
  • Effects of Corrosion

  1. Leaks – On average, about 25% of steel pipes will have a leaking connection within it’s first 5 years of use
  2. Drop in pressure – Even the slightest corrosion causes an irregular inner surface profile which causes unacceptable drops in pressure
  3. Air contamination – When compressed air passes through a rusted or corroded pipe, it becomes contaminated with hydrogen ions and rust particles
  4. Wasted energy – When a pipe becomes choked off by rust buildup, piping systems will consume extra power to overcome this friction


Ultrasonic Testing: A Brief Overview

Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline (USA)

Ultrasonic Testing, or UT, is one of the most utilized and helpful Nondestructive Testing methods used. Not only can a certified inspector identify thicknesses of various metals, but they are also able to identify cracks, as well as their length and depth. Ultrasonic Testing is also widely used due to its high sensitivity abilities which allows to identify even the smallest of cracks. This method is also highly preferred due to the fact that technicians can run a full investigation while only needing to access one side of the test piece.

  • When did it all begin?

Ultrasonic Testing, or UT, began as early as the 1940’s, but it’s initial origins can be dated back to the early 1900’s. The first patent related to Ultrasonic Testing was issued in 1942 which was titled “Flaw Detecting Device and Measuring Instrument.” This patent was specifically issued due to this new device’s ability to investigate a test piece without destroying or compromising it. This was the first piece of equipment created which allowed for the detection and identification of subsurface flaws.

  • How does it work?

Ultrasonic Testing works by utilizing a piezoelectric crystal ‘transducer’ which induces periodic electrical pulses of ultrasonic frequency into the test piece. A jelly like substance, also known as couplant, is applied to both the transducer as well as the test piece. This allows for separation between the test piece and the transducer. The two common types of ultrasonic testing are known as reflection, or pulse-echo, and attenuation, or through-transmission. Their names are quite self-explanatory. When the reflection method is used, the transducer both sends and receives the sound waves from one side of the test piece. When the attenuation method is used, one transducer is used to send the sound waves and one (typically on the other side of the test piece) is used to receive them.

Ground Penetrating Radar: The Unique Applications

Gobekli Tepe is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km northeast of the city of Sanlıurfa.

While The Most Ideal Application is Locating Voids and Utilities, GPR Goes Above and Beyond

When used in unison with the standard Ground Penetrating Radar equipment, equipment such as leak detectors, electromagnetic induction, and the like allow technicians to discover leaking pipes, trace and map utility lines with GPS, assist in archaeological digs, assess changes in the environment (soil contamination), and assist law enforcement without destroying evidence, among many others.

1. Archaeology

When Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is used with Electromagnetic Induction, technicians are able to assist archaeologists with digs. Using non-invasive techniques, historic sites can be ‘uncovered’ simply by utilizing these imaging systems. The crucial part of all of this is that these historic sites remain underground and protected.

Most recently, scientists, with the assistance of GPR technicians, were able to discover a holocaust escape tunnel without destroying or interrupting it.

2. Forensics

Again, with the key part of Ground Penetrating Radar being that it is non-invasive, technicians are easily able to assist law enforcement with investigations. Since non-invasive techniques are utilized, evidence will not be at risk for contamination or destruction. Buried weapon caches, evidence, or even clandestine burials are among the applications that technicians are able to properly locate and identify.

A great story recently came out of Vietnam where individuals are utilizing GPR to locate and return the remains of Vets missing in action from years ago.

3. Mars

Yes, Mars! Aboard  NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a Ground Penetrating Radar system was utilized called the Shallow Subsurface Radar. This system was able to ping toward Mars more than 700 times per second. This system allowed scientists to see beneath the surface of Mars revealing that it had gone through an extreme ice age that would have put Earth’s ice age to shame. This system also revealed to the scientists that, after creating a 2d map of the subsurface, there is a lot of H2O and CO2 trapped.

In summary, it is clearly becoming more and more obvious that these Ground Penetrating Radar systems are becoming more and more important in the world of science, investigations, and even environmental monitoring. This is yet another nondestructive testing method that can not only teach us more, but do so noninvasively and safely.

5 Cool, Practical Uses for Phased Array Antennas and Transducers

Commercial airplane

Phased Arrays Explained – the Really Short Version

So what is a phased array antenna? Any antenna, from the one in your smartphone to a thousand-foot diameter radio telescope, does just two things – it sends out or receives electromagnetic energy waves like radio, radar, TV, microwave, etc.  Conventional antennas have a limited ability to direct their beams. That’s one reason many radar antennas rotate – to scan the entire sky they must physically move the beam.

A phased array antenna is different. It combines an array of small, fixed, individually controlled antennas that can direct the beam in multiple directions. It can also be used to improve reception.  

So what’s a phased array transducer? Basically, it’s the ultrasonic version of a phased array antenna – it beams (and acquires) ultrasonic waves using a multiple transducer array.

1. Sit Back and Enjoy the Flight

Ever wonder how your airline keeps you hooked-up to the internet at 35,000 feet over the Atlantic?  It may well be a phased array antenna.

Here’s the problem – as your jam-packed jetliner is winging its way to your next tiny hotel room, the satellites it’s using to stay connected to the internet are changing their relative positions. Conventional, fixed antennas can’t handle that kind of variation, but a phased array antenna is just the thing for ensuring clear reception – even over Greenland.    

2. Non Destructive Inspection – of Course!

Phased array transducers are the core of advanced ultrasonic inspection. Used for inspecting welds and other high value structures, phased array ultrasonic systems directionally beam waves of ultrasonic energy through the inspection piece. This enables the phased array transducer to be mounted in one or a limited number of positions. In contrast, a conventional ultrasonic inspection system uses a transducer that must be manually moved over point on the test piece. This can lead to inaccuracies and even missed defects, especially if the inspection piece has a complex geometry.

Phased array transducers – suddenly a complicated inspection task is lot more simple and accurate.

3. Talk Radio? Yeah, We’ve Got That.

Ever wonder why AM radio stations frequently use multiple antennas to broadcast their signal? All those towers actually form one big phased array antenna. Why do it? One, it lets broadcasters direct their signal towards the geographic area that holds their prime listeners. Two, as the sun sets listener reception can be improved by switching phases and power levels in individual antennas.

Sports, politics, news, oldies – all brought to you by phased array antennas.

4. Admit it – You Want a Phased Array Radar for Your Car

That day may not be far off. Researchers at a major automotive company have demonstrated a small phased array radar designed to detect and identify pedestrians. With over 4,000 pedestrian fatalities every year in the US, it’s a problem in need of an effective solution.   

Phased arrays provide a wide detection angle and rapid object acquisition. Hooked up to the vehicle’s control system, it can bring a car or truck to a hard stop before the driver even realizes that a pedestrian stepped into the danger zone.

5. The Ultimate Stormchaser

While not yet in widespread use, phased array radars may provide the ultimate early warning system for tornados and other dangerous weather. The Navy even built a mobile unit mounted to a tricked-out truck. Think of it as your ultimate pimp-my-ride for the stormchasing crowd.

More than a science project, phased array weather radars promise faster, deeper scans of weather systems and that means earlier, more accurate weather warnings.

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