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The 7 Best Ways to Break a Universal Joint

Submitted by ralf on

Living in an ideal world where our couplings never falter would be a dream. However, living in the daily reality of manufacturing, our u-joints occasionally throw us a curveball. We thought we’d have a little fun with this blog post and give you a few of the *best* ways to break them:


1. Too Much Torque

Applying an excessive load to a universal joint? Brace yourself for trouble. Whether it's a yoke shearing or a pin throwing in the towel, high torque can lead to poor articulation or binding, making your components give out at an inopportune moment. The solution? Consider a larger or a more robust U Joint, like our High Strength or Leveler Strength designs. We can also help your engineering team custom build something more robust and specific to your needs.


2. Too Much Speed

Speed demons, beware! High RPMs can spell disaster for your universal joint under the wrong circumstances. Factors like bearing type, torque, operating angle, and lubrication type all play a part. If your joints in a high-speed application are wearing out too quickly, it might be time to consult your universal joint application engineer for a potential redesign. It may be time to switch to a needle-bearing or composite bearing design for those high-speed requirements.


3. Too High of an Angle

Universal joints have their limits, especially when it comes to operating angles. Exceed the maximum operating angle, and you might experience 'notchiness' – a not-so-subtle protest from your U Joint. Consider reducing the angle or opting for a double U-joint to spread the load and keep things running smoothly.


4. Not Enough Lubrication

Just like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz knew, your moving metal parts may need lubrication to operate as expected. Any bearing surface must be properly lubricated to operate effectively and efficiently. If your u-joint is binding or you notice unusually high wear in operation, a lubrication failure might be occurring. Regular relubrication, especially with joints equipped with fittings, is one option. Protective boots can act as reservoirs for lubricant, offering constant relubrication. If a protective boot isn't feasible, dry film coatings, platings, or external oil systems can provide long-term lubrication. For needle bearing designs, the enclosed bearings are pre-lubricated for extended operation without the need for additional grease.


5. Poor Machining

Not all U Joints are born with the same precision. Cheap offshore joints might leave you with wide tolerance blues. Our advice? Choose wisely. Belden Universal's products are machined with precision on modern CNC equipment, ensuring tight tolerances for demanding applications.


6. Wrong Materials

Is your environment less than ideal? Highly corrosive? Extremely hot or cold? Subjected to or immersed in seawater? These environmental elements and more can lead to your universal joint failing prematurely or not working at all. Harsh conditions can put your U Joint to the test. Consult our application specialists at Belden Universal for guidance on the right materials and design to brave extreme climates.


7. Poorly Installed Universal Joint

Finally, even a high-quality tool can break if you aren’t using it right.  A universal joint is only as good as its installation. Avoid the pitfalls of improper connections and mismatched dimensions. Belden Universal offers a range of hub configurations to simplify installation, ensuring your joint lives up to its full potential.


If you find yourself with a broken U-Joint, never fear!  Give Belden Universal a call at 708-344-4600 or reach out to us via our Contact Us or Quote Request form. Our crack team of application engineers is ready to steer you towards the perfect U Joint or drive shaft – because perfection can be achieved, but not by accident.