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BALL JOINT Expansion Joints

Ball joints have been around since the beginning of time. The writer first came across them during World War II where they were used on steam vessels to accommo¬date pipe expansion and twisting of the hulls. In all probability, they were used exactly the same way in the First World War, as the Liberty Ships of World War II were copies of the same vessels. All in all, that is about a 100 year history with little difference in design except for the use of better grade materials and improved seals. While thin walled material like Stainless Steel hoses or the many variations of Stainless Steel expansion joints have very high safety factors, there is comfort in knowing you are using a zero thrust product where no component has a thickness less than the piping itself. One of our overseas reps, in a country where sabotage was common, commented “They are quite resistant to rifle fire as well.” We were first exposed to the need for ball joints where thermal expansion design centered around the use of high pressure steam for heating. There is one huge steam generating station in lower New York that continues to supply steam for heating in New York City. Any building owner that purchases this high pressure supply steam must engineer all their high pressure inlet piping to Con Edison’s (the steam supplier’s) satisfaction. The use of ball joints to handle thermal movement is a necessity as space is tight and leaves no room for pipe loops or offsets. We not only sell our ball joints, but we engineer the systems as well, should there be no specifica¬tions or if specifications call for design by vendor.

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