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Rod end bearings are mechanical joints that, while common and widely used, are essential in nearly all mechanical devices that require mechanical controls. Rod end bearings are typically found in steering links, control rods, and tie rods – basically where any precision articulating joint is required or where a clevis end cannot be used.
Usage and materials
Using materials such as steel, stainless steel, high-carbon steel and aluminium, a rod end bearing is essentially a ball swivel with an opening through which a bolt (or other attachment) may be passed, pressed into a circular casing to which a threaded shaft (either male or female) is attached. Male rod end bearings feature external threading while female rod end bearings are designed with internal threading.
Similar to a human bone joint, rod end bearings are used on the ends of control rods, allowing them to rotate in a precise and controlled manner. The advantage of this is that the bolt or rod passing through the ball can be misaligned at any angle other than ninety degrees. Steering columns in most vehicles require rod end bearings, enabling the tie rods to rotate in accordance with the direction of the wheel. Female rod end bearings are used in helicopters, allowing technicians to fine-tune the direction of the blades.