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ball stud parts availability

ball stud parts availability

(OP)
Folks,

I have a bus that uses an IFS steer axle provided by one of the major drivetrain tier suppliers. I'd rather not name the company since I am trying to convince them to support the product. I thought I'd solicit the opinion of this board. The axle is 16000 lb GAWR, it uses unequal length a-arms with a 60mm upper ball stud and a 80mm lower ball stud. The ball studs are threaded into the control arms. The problem is that the original manufacturer of the ball stud, and the entire axle assembly, was a European company that has gone bankrupt. The American company rebranded the European suspension system and sold and supported in under their name. The last units were sold in 2009. The American company has since restructured it's operations and streamlined it's product line and no longer supports this IFS system. Convincing them to find a second source supplier for the ball stud is probably hopeless. Late model buses will be grounded. The ball studs appear to be forged. The upper stud uses a composite liner, the lower stud appears to be steel on steel (housing to ball). What are your engineering thoughts on remanufacturing/refurbishing/rebuilding ball studs? What are your thoughts on having parts re-produced? Any other solutions or comments are much appreciated.

RE: ball stud parts availability

Are the ball studs damaged in some way? It could be possible to refurbish parts, but the most likely problem (wear on ball surface) is not an easy one to fix. How many parts would you need? Manufacturing new ones is no big deal if you have suitable documentation (part drawings, product specifications) and enough budget.

RE: ball stud parts availability

Many ball studs designs are semi-standard and can be cross linked across several brands. Check with a good heavy duty mechanic and an old time parts person to see if they know who else may use a similar stud.
As far as rebuilding ball studs; I would not try to do it.
I agree with Cory that it is not a big deal to order a short run of ball studs from someone in the EU or US.

RE: ball stud parts availability

(OP)
Thanks guys,

The ball joints exhibit rapid wear due to prematurely cracked and deteriorated boots. We're addressing that problem too. I got a bit of good news from the manufacturer today - looks like they will make a run of parts for us. You can be sure I'll be pestering them for drawings, spec's, and whatever digital representations they have (g-code, etc). Thanks.

RE: ball stud parts availability

I would have thought the metal parts could be made even one off by any competent machinist with the correct equipment. The ball is straight forward, but may require a high grade bolt rather than turned from one piece of metal as a rolled thread is a lot stronger than a cut thread. If the bolt portion is tapered a shoulder bolt might be a suitable starting point for that component.

If you did not have a facility to swage the socket part under the ball, maybe a two part socket that screws together or is held together by a third part being a sleeve that fits over it.

Rubber lip seals or O rings might work as seals along with regular greasing just like we used to do..

Do they make spherical joints like typically used on race cars that might be big enough and strong enough?

Regards
Pat
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RE: ball stud parts availability

Have you tried checking in SWAG catalogues (they carry parts for cars & light commercial vehicles), or something like that? The reason I mention it is because they list mfg. part numbers, but their own as well- which is useful because you can find out if any other vehicle uses the same part and which. The other benefit is that in my neck of woods it's usually easier to go to car parts shop and ask for part by its SWAG number than by mfg. part number. HTH

RE: ball stud parts availability

As you've already found, mind the boot quality. I've had tie rod ends fail in a couple months due to utter crap boot quality. I drive a 30 year old benz, and as the market and OEM's even look for 'second sources' as they say quality can suffer. If you can find NOS, this is usually regarded as better than recent production

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