What is a Rzeppa Joint?
The Rzeppa joint is a constant velocity joint that transmits torque over a wide angular range. It is commonly used in drive trains to transmit the rotational motion of two shafts in motor vehicles. A cage usually surrounds the joint.
In a typical Rzeppa ball joint, six balls fit in openings in the cage. The center ball guides the other four balls in a claw-like connection. The spheres lie in a plane 90 degrees from the axis.
Rzeppa joints can be connected to input shafts or journals. It is especially useful when the joint must be designed to run at a large angle between the input and output shafts.
To make the assembly of Rzeppa joints easier, the cage is introduced into the outer hub during assembly. The cage holds the balls in radial openings.
In the United States, there are two variations of the Rzeppa joint. US patents describe them. For the first embodiment, the inner hub is a star gear connected to the cage by a splined and threaded shaft.
On the other hand, the second embodiment has a cage that holds the balls in annular spheres. Half of the balls are inserted into the cage, while the other half is set in the outer hub.
Rzeppa fittings are available in many different sizes. Larger versions are suitable for drivelines with large angles between the output and input shafts.
Rzeppa joint was invented by an engineer in Ford Motor Company named Alfred Hans Rzeppa in 1926 and patented in 1935. Fun Fact! This joint is the first practical CV joint ever invented.
Features of Rzeppa Joint
It is a fixed joint that can twist up to 55 degrees in angle but have no horizontal travel.
In a Rzeppa joint, you will find an outer race, ball bearings, a cage, and an inner race.
- The journey begins when you switch on your car engine.
- The input shaft spins when your car engine starts.
- An inner ring is attached to the input shaft.
- The ball bearing goes on top of the inner ring.
- A spherical cage fits and holds the ball bearings in.
- An outer race has grooves for the ball bearings to fit in.
- The outer race has an output shaft that connects to your car wheels.
The ball bearings are where the magic happens. They are the intermediate members between the input and output shafts. In layman’s terms, the ball bearings are the middlemen that move power from Point A (input shaft) to Point B (output shaft).
Ball bearings need to be in a specific position to do that efficiently. It must be in a bisecting plane between the input and output shaft. In order to do that, the spherical cage has 6 slots (one for each ball bearing) to hold and guide them at that angle.
This will ensure that the ball bearing is in constant contact with the outer race, which transfers the power to your car wheels.
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