Every vehicle needs a good driver to steer it in the right direction and away from dangers on the road. For 50 years, Pailton Engineering Ltd. has been manufacturing the steering systems that give drivers of all types of vehicles this assurance as they travel from place to place.

One of the most important components of each steering system is the universal joint, or U-joint, that connects various parts. This joint consists of a pair of hinges that are close together, oriented at 90 degrees to each other and connected by a cross shaft. The U-joint is not a constant-velocity joint, but must be able to rotate at an angle to accommodate rotation, tilt and telescope functions within the steering system.

Bearings within the joint assembly enable smooth rotation over the lifespan of the steering system. This is particularly important when the vehicle has different drivers who regularly adjust the steering tilt and telescope for optimum comfort and safety.

Pailton has made universal joints since 1982. Last year, however, the company invested in a custom press from BalTec (UK) Ltd. to more accurately and consistently install bearings in each joint, as well as increase joint production.

BalTec was chosen for this project because of its decades-long expertise in joining technology machinery. The supplier makes a wide range of assembly presses, roller forming units, screwdriving systems and riveting machines.

Several manufacturers, in fact, use the benchtop BalTec EN20 orbital riveting and RN 181 radial riveting machines to install bearings in automotive drive systems. The EN20 has a working stroke of 5 to 40 millimeters and produces 5 to 20 kilonewtons of riveting force. By comparison, the RN 181’s working stroke is 5 to 30 millimeters and it produces 1.8 to 6.6 kilonewtons of force.

BalTec equipment is also used by automotive manufacturers to insert bushings. Five years ago, the supplier provided an automated riveting system to assemble the linkages that raise and lower the roof of a popular convertible. The system consists of two indexing dials with BalTec radial forming machines and custom servo press systems (not supplied by BalTec). The presses automatically insert bushings into the stampings, which are then sent to the riveting systems for final assembly.

Pailton manufactures two series of single-steering U-joints, as well as double-steering U-joints and custom joints of special sizes, shapes and serrations. The 19-millimeter single joint has an operating angle of up to 50 degrees and comes with an optional regrease component. The 15-millimeter single joint has an operating angle of up to 35 degrees, and its end hole can be supplied plain or serrated.

Founded in 1969, Pailton manufactures all steering system components, including columns, bevel boxes, sliding shafts, suspension links, drag link assemblies and drop arms. The company’s customers include OEMs in the hauling, construction, bus, military-vehicle and emergency service sectors. Makers of road-maintenance vehicles (road sweepers, sand and salt spreaders, refuse trucks, snowplows) also use Pailton steering systems.

For more information on presses and riveting machines, call 724-873-5757 or visit http://baltecorporation.com.