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Care required using gas axe

Discussion in 'Safety Issues' started by Nige, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    I was sent these photos. They are from a JLG telehandler steering linkage. The story is that the mechanics assigned to replace the ball joint between the steering cylinder and the track bar couldn't break it loose from the bar. It was put in a vice and heated in an attempt to loosen the threads but with no success. Just as they walked away from it to think about a Plan B to try to break the thread loose the joint exploded as you see in the photo. Fortunately nobody was hurt. There must have been some major force inside that ball joint to peel it open like that.
    upload_2018-10-21_11-26-44.png upload_2018-10-21_11-29-59.png
     
  2. JPV

    JPV Well-Known Member

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    Wow, have had to do the same thing, never dreamt it could do that! Will file that one away....
     
  3. repowerguy

    repowerguy Senior Member

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    At a former job, a couple guys were trying to get a drag link off a Phoenix mixer with heat and it blew the crimped cap off with a LOUD BOOM! It narrowly missed a guys head and went the width of the garage [75' or so] and hit the wall next to me.
    We chalked it up to hyd. pressure from the grease expanding in a confined space.
    Scary stuff indeed.
     
  4. funwithfuel

    funwithfuel Senior Member

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    I'm having a hard time understanding what causes the catastrophic effect. Is it uneven heating and cooling to a hardened material? Is it trapped fluid? What could cause that release of energy?
     
  5. 92U 3406

    92U 3406 Senior Member

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    I did that exact thing on a G12 JLG a few years back. It split in half and puked grease smoke out all over the shop. For some reason JLG is horny for loctite on those threads. I swear they fill that damn cavity full before threading in the tie rods. A 4 or 5 foot pipe wrench with 2 guys is usually needed to bust them loose when cold. With heat its a one person job. We actually bought a big tap to clean all that old loctite out so we could thread them back in by hand. New loctite of course but not half a litre like was in there originally.
     
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  6. Paul Council

    Paul Council Active Member

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    WOW! I will definitely keep that in mind and pass it along. WOW
     
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  7. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    I haven't seen one cut apart, so I'm speculating here. I think there is a nylon/polypropylene/plastic thrust washer inside the socket part of the joint. Is it possible that heating it could release some sort of combustible gas that combined with the grease in the joint could cause an explosion..?
    One thing I have no idea about is how hot the guy with the gas axe actually got the piece before it went bang. For all I know it could have been red hot.
     
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  8. 92U 3406

    92U 3406 Senior Member

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    I think its just from the hot air/hot grease expanding in behind that ball stud. With all the movement during turns the surfaces of the ball and socket probably get super polished and seal up tight so nothing can vent out around it.

    When the one I did popped I had it warm, not near red hot, focusing the heat around the flat spot by the threads. After that I started heating the end of the steer cylinder rod instead. Never had another one pop again.
     
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  9. funwithfuel

    funwithfuel Senior Member

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    This all got me to thinking. Something I'm really not a fan of. We had a class on hydraulics when I worked for the Volvo dealer. The instructor explained that we ALL need to be more cognizant of where we apply a torch.
    Something I had forgotten about from automotive times. Some bearing side seals as well as high pressure o-rings contain flourene, iirc which when heated produces a carcinogen which becomes caustic and aggressively attacks animal tissue. The result would require the surgical removal of affected flesh. I have personally never witnessed or observed this. Only what I've been taught and passing on to all of you.
    Perhaps flourene is not the proper name. I looked up msds sheets and show no long term or chronic effects from decomposition.
     
  10. Wytruckwrench

    Wytruckwrench Well-Known Member

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    I have heard that is a very common thing to have happen on tie rod ends and u joints, ball joints etc. I heard about it a couple of years back. Scared me thinking about how many I have heated.
     
  11. funwithfuel

    funwithfuel Senior Member

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    Found it , viton. Viton , the tough little brown ones. When exposed to heat (315*C) release poison gas, when combined with water makes painless burns resulting in tissue death. Check msds for detailed information. Bottom line. Be mindful of what you're burning, not just what you see.
     
  12. Wytruckwrench

    Wytruckwrench Well-Known Member

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    I had heard of that fwf, but had forgotten about it. Thank you for the reminder.
     
  13. funwithfuel

    funwithfuel Senior Member

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    We all need it from time to time. I guess that's why I'll never B!tch about going to an annual refresher. I had completely forgotten about all this, till Nige posted about the rupture hazard. Another that I'd have never guessed in a million years.
    Thanks Nige, got the old noodle working a bit.
     
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  14. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    Cut one apart. I don't think the wearing surface in the female end of the joint is Viton judging by the colour. However whether or not the combination of fumes from hot plastic and grease can make a more explosive combination than just grease alone is I think still a valid one.

    upload_2018-10-22_11-42-0.png
     
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  15. excavator

    excavator Senior Member

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    We had something similar happen in our area a number of years ago in a shop that works in the hydro-electric industry. A guy was heating a cast steel prop to remove it from the shaft. The prop had a small casting flaw which had over time filled with water. As he heated it up the water turned to steam and eventually blew out and a chunk of metal hit him in the neck, killing him. Makes you stop and think about how many times we've done things like that.
     
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  16. Ct Farmer

    Ct Farmer Well-Known Member

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    The burning/overheated Viton is nothing to mess around with. When burned it produces hydrofluoric acid which is one of the strongest acids known.

    The odd thing is the burns don't have much pain until they are very deep. They are also hard to stop - baking soda won't work, you need a specific base made to neutralize HF and even that is a crap shoot. Burns often require surgery.

    Hydrofluoric contamination is a serious problem on vehicles that have been in a fire as the Viton residue is very contaminated with HF and remains active indefinitely.

    Only certain gloves are resistant to HF. Choose wisely.
     
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  17. RZucker

    RZucker Senior Member

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    Yup, there are specific warnings in the Detroit Diesel manual about melted down crosshead pistons with burnt seal rings under the piston crown.
     
  18. willie59

    willie59 Super Moderator

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    Nige, I do declare, you've posted something I've never seen before, and I'm damn sure curious as to what caused that. Strange indeed in that the only logical reason the wrench bender is replacing the joints is because they are worn. Rubber seal has long gone, grease lube quickly follows in being long gone, joint wear progresses until it's worn slap out. As a matter of fact I'm doing this very repair on a Genie 1056 telehandler for the same reasons. So...with all this slack and worn out stuff, what-in-the-heck caused this failure? I'm perplexed!
     
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  19. 92U 3406

    92U 3406 Senior Member

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    A lot of times in the extreme cold up here the steering cylinder seals blow out. Unfortunately that means the tie rods need to come off so the cylinder can be resealed.
     
  20. Vetech63

    Vetech63 Senior Member

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    I would like to know myself as I have torched numerous ones off with no problems.