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Excel Expertise: Worn Head Balls

When questions of wear and failure come through the pipeline, Excel employees are quick to help our customers by providing the most accurate and understandable information.

Recently Excel was contacted with the following question:

Q: How does one check to determine if their head ball needs to be replaced?

Excel Service Manager, Ken Olson, stepped in to field the question.

A: One way to measure the extent of wear to a head ball is by use of a template. Over time, the OEMs have taken out template drawings for all the larger cone crushers, and unfortunately the OEMs have not made templates available for the all of the smaller size cone crushers. Excel also offers some head ball templates, and in instances where we do not have a steel template available, we can provide a full size plotter print drawing of the head ball. This print is then applied to a piece of tag board and the head ball template surface is precisely cut out. This makes a great template; however, actual wear concerns can be very subjective. Typically, the wear is at the outer diameter of the head ball and this area is critical to forming a seal with the socket liner. If this does not happen, it is difficult to maintain adequate oil pressure at the socket/head ball interface and in the crusher in general.

Outside of using a template, when evaluating the condition of a head ball, I use empirical information such as; the latest running oil pressure, obvious oil contamination and the visual wear pattern in the socket liner and the head ball. A tactile (run my fingers over the head ball) inspection of the head ball is also very valuable. There are never any hard and fast dimensions to check on the head ball if one is using a template. Often, the wear is quite apparent, but sometimes it is not. To be safe, if you are ever in doubt as the condition of the head ball you should change it out.

If there is reason to suspect a worn or damaged head ball and a new socket liner is being installed, the OEMs recommend that the head ball’s contact with the socket liner be checked. To do this, the socket liner should be coated in layout dye or bluing (the spray can type works best), the head assembly installed and the crusher turned over. The head assembly is then removed and a visual contact pattern is evident. If the head ball is seriously worn, the contact will be towards the middle of the socket liner and not at the outer 1 to 2 inches. The options are to attempt to scrape/sand/polish down the inner region of the socket liner (area being currently contacted) until the contact migrates to the outer diameter of the socket liner, or to replace the head ball.

There are other reasons that can lead to changing out a head ball as well. I have seen several instances where a head ball was cocked in the head due to improper installation (usually hung up on dowel pins that were not installed to full depth). As well, high temperature burn up can seriously damage the load bearing surface of the head ball. This often results in a sandpaper like feel to the steel surface. Polishing out these defects is difficult and requires great care, making changing out the head ball a better option. Finally, severe scoring of a head ball can occur if coarse contaminates enter the oil clearances. Heavy scoring of the head ball will reduce the thickness of the necessary oil film at the boundary between the head ball and the socket liner.

– Ken Olson, Excel Service Manager

Ken Olson200 Excel Expertise: Worn Head Balls

With over 30 years of experience in the mining industry and a degree in mining engineering, Ken Olson is a leader in the field. He helped develop the Raptor Cone Crusher line after joining Excel Crusher Technologies in 2004, and after joining Excel Foundry & Machine in 2012, he has been using his vast experience to greatly help the Excel team ever since.

Excel provides premium aftermarket components for more than a dozen different OEM brands. At Excel, we believe in delivering our distributors and customers quality products along with providing the very best in service and experience from industry experts.

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