Company Insight

Mastering Ball Stud Removals on Caterpillar Haul Trucks

How often do you consider enhancing safety practices at your mine site?

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M​​​​​​​aintaining heavy mining equipment is not an easy task. More than wear and tear, the harsh environment of mine sites collaborates with the seizing and welding of critical components, making it harder for extraction and replacement during planned or reactive maintenance. The lack of effective tools to remove such parts results in maintenance teams resorting to traditional and dangerous practices such as thermal lancing.

The challenge of extracting seized ball studs in steering arms of Caterpillar Haul Truck fleets is constant on mine sites around the globe. Geographe, an Australian manufacturer of parts for heavy mining equipment, collaborated with Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), one of Australia’s biggest Iron Ore miners, to develop a solution to both increase safety and reduce maintenance labour time during the extraction of the seized ball studs.

Designed to Deliver Engineering Excellence

Geographe subsequently engineered the patented Ball Stud Removal Tool (BSRT) – a hydraulic tool that simplifies the ball stud removal process, designed for efficiency, workforce safety and to preserve the machine’s integrity during extraction. Part of the Geographe Specialised Tooling™ Solutions portfolio, the BSRT is manufactured from a forged high-tensile alloy and subjected to rigorous heat treatment to ensure durability and reliability in high-stress environments.

Developing a tool that would be lightweight, easy to use, and able to fit between the truck’s steering control arms and the bell crank, was a challenge that Geographe’s metallurgical team were prepared to tackle.

“We had about 17 millimetres for the fingers of our tool to slide into and up to
50 tonnes of applied force were on these fingers. So, the material needed to be very resistant to fatigue over extended use,” says Sean Martin, Geographe’s Research,
Development and Innovation Manager.

As part of the manufacturing, they also implemented a FEA (Finite Element Analysis) using a computer program to understand how reliable the product is under stress and ensure the strength of the tool.

The resulting tool allowed a removed ball stud to be crack checked, cleaned, and reinstalled as needed without damaging any surrounding parts.  The tooling was the winner of the Innovative Mining Solution category at the 2021 Australian Mining Prospect Awards.


How the Ball Stud Removal Tool Enhances Operations and Safety for Maintenance Teams

Geographe’s BSRT can be set up and operated by just one person, reducing manpower required to extract stubborn ball studs, and eliminates the need for hammering, jacking, tray bouncing, heating, and thermal lancing. The BSRT also significantly improves safety conditions for maintenance teams. Encased in a waterproof, custom, wheeled Pelican™ case for ease of transportation and secure storage, the BSRT is portable and allows for a hydraulic hand pump (supplied separately) to enable maintenance teams to repair ball studs in the field, saving more time by not having to tow the trucks back to the workshop.

The BSRT is designed to fit various Caterpillar haul trucks including the 785, 789, and 793 (with or without Extended Life Brake Packs).  In response to strong customer demand, a version to suit CAT 777 trucks is also in development and is expected to be available at the end of 2024.

Maximising Global Efficiency

Geographe Ball Stud Removal Tools have been distributed across North & South America, Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia and New Zealand, to companies including BHP, Rio Tinto, Newcrest, Thiess Mongolia, Vale, Newmont, US Steel, Drummond, Burgundy Diamond Mines, Suncor, and Peabody.  Geographe’s customers have saved countless labour hours, reduced downtime, and most importantly, provided significantly safer working practices for their maintenance teams.

Miners in Indonesia can also benefit from Geographe’s BSRT to optimise their operations and increase the safety of their workforce. Jansen Lie, International Customer Relationship Manager is bringing Geographe Specialised Tooling™ Solutions and Geographe Enhanced Performance™ Parts to the region. Jansen is available to discuss how the BSRT and other solutions developed to improve mine site productivity can address critical maintenance challenges and enhance your maintenance practices.


By focusing on designing parts and solutions to cater to the unique needs of miners, Geographe supports your industry to achieve their goals with engineering excellence.

Interested in discussing further? Arrange a chat with Jansen here.

Contact information

480 Abernethy Road,
Kewdale WA 6105

Tel.: +61 8 9449 1111