“As a mechanical engineer, you get used to the fact that parts will wear out and need to be replaced. Some parts go quickly, others last for many years before they finally break down. Some are designed to be easy to replace, others are virtually impossible to get to and take a lot of fiddly work. So ideally you want the easily worn-out parts to be easy to reach. Stainless steel ball joints are moving parts. They do not just move – stainless steel ball joints are rare in the machinery that I work with – they move in multiple directions. They can be subjected to traction and torsion forces and in some cases stainless steel ball joints can move multiple times per second. There are often a huge number of stainless steel ball joints in one machine, and due to their exceptional usefulness they are, unfortunately, often buried deep in machinery, in places which are not so very easy to reach. That can make them a nightmare to replace. And with the wide range of movement and amount of mechanical stress that they come under, the are not the longest lasting parts. That is the reason that I always make sure that I search for high quality stainless steel ball joints. You can be sure that they will breakdown some time, but good quality stainless steel ball joints can last up to two or even three times as long as cheaper option.
When it comes to buying stainless steel ball joints, it can be very hard to judge which are going to be long-lasting and hard-wearing. Certainly, you cannot judge it based on a photo or basic description. There are however a few factors which you can take into account:
The amount of friction created by the movement of the joint has a huge influence on its lifespan, as does the fit of the ball in the socket. If it moves too much it can bump against itself and wear out far quicker than may be expected. But perhaps the most important thing for me is to be able to reliably get the same part again when I need it. Then I know exactly what type of stainless steel ball joints I will be getting, and I know what I can expect from them.
I almost invariably buy my stainless steel ball joints from a company called T-Technics. They are located in the Netherlands, but they supply quickly to me in Northern England with no fuss or delay. On their website, t-technics.co.uk, they list all of their available parts clearly, using consistent codes and descriptions to make sure that you know what you’re buying. I tend to buy in bulk and everything I receive comes clearly listed and packaged, so there’s no confusion. In general I have a large stock of important moving parts, like stainless steel ball joints, in case of failures but even when I’ve needed parts in a hurry, T-Technics have always delivered. Their products are all high quality, and seem to be about the hardest wearing, longest lasting versions around, at least within a reasonable price range. If I have been unable to find precisely what I need I have always found them to be very helpful in advising me, and I have even had them making custom gas springs for me in the past.”