What is a Turnbuckle? A Look at Types, Components, Usages, and Installation
The rigging and industrial hardware industry use lots of unique pieces of hardware that are not used for many other purposes. One such piece is the turnbuckle – so what is a turnbuckle exactly and what is its purpose?
A turnbuckle (also sometimes called a stretching screw or bottlescrew) is defined as “A device for adjusting the tension or length of ropes, cables, tie rods, and other tensioning systems.” While this hardware piece is relatively small, it can be used for large apparatus setups and can withstand weights up to 75,000 lbs.
Since its invention in the 1950s, the turnbuckle design has not altered very much. But there are many different types, designs, and sizes offered by industrial hardware suppliers – so it’s important to understand this information when purchasing turnbuckles.
1. Parts of the Turnbuckle
The turnbuckle is made of three key parts: the body, jam nut, and end fittings. These parts may be made of different designs or materials, so knowing the names and purpose of each component is quite important.
The body is the metal frame in the middle of the turnbuckle. This is the part that turns so the end pieces on either side will either extend or retract. This is what creates the tension.
A turnbuckle’s body may either be open or closed. The open body design exposes the threads of the end fittings, making it easier to see how far the turnbuckle is extended. A closed body turnbuckle (also called pipe body) encloses the threads. This adds slightly more support and a smaller frame that is ideal for smaller fits.
This is a traditional nut piece that threads the end fittings into the body. The jam nut can be tightened to hold the end fittings more securely in place to the body.
There are two end fittings on either side of the turnbuckle. These serve as the connection point for the rigging equipment. There are several styles of end fittings that can be used, depending on the application. These components can also be mixed and matched – both end fittings do not necessarily need to match.
2. Turnbuckle Types
There are several types of turnbuckles. The primary difference is the end-fitting combinations. As mentioned before, the end fittings do not necessarily need to match.
The typical end fitting styles you will see offered by most industrial hardware suppliers are:
- Eye and Eye Turnbuckles: Two rounded loops on each end
- Hook and Eye Turnbuckles: One loop and one open hook
- Hook and Hook Turnbuckles: Two hooks on either end
- Jaw and Eye Turnbuckles: One closed loop and one U-shaped opening with a pin and screw closure
- Jaw and Jaw Turnbuckles: Two U-shaped openings with pin and screw closures
These different fittings are used to connect varying types of industrial hardware for rigging applications. For instance, an eye end fitting may be used to connect to a loop end of an industrial wire rope or cable. A hook would be optimal for an application that needs to be easily unattached, while a jaw end fitting creates a more secure, permanent connection.
Turnbuckles may also be made of different materials, depending on the application. Stainless steel turnbuckles are the most heavy-duty, as this metal is naturally corrosion resistant. Stainless turnbuckles would be recommended for applications exposed to the elements, such as for marine rigging.
Most industrial hardware suppliers will also offer turnbuckles in drop forged, hot-dipped galvanized finish for added protection.
3. When are Turnbuckles Used?
Turnbuckles are used for many types of applications across many industries, including:
- Aircraft construction
- Bridge construction
- Overhead rigging and lifting
- Shipping rigging and lashing
- Theatre productions for lifting equipment
- Pipe systems
- Marine transportation
The primary purpose of the turnbuckle is to easily adjust the tension within a rigging assembly. This can be used for simple setups like fences or boxing rings as well as large projects such as suspension bridges and aircraft.
The most important element of a turnbuckle is the quality of its material and construction. Since this small piece of hardware is responsible for securing heavy loads, it must withstand tension and weight without warping or loosening. The material requires durability to withstand external factors like moisture levels, direct sunlight, temperature fluctuations, and weight load changes.
4. Turnbuckle Installation Process
Apart from the question of “what is a turnbuckle”, perhaps the most common one asked by our customers is how to install this piece of equipment. Proper installation is crucial – but thankfully, it is also fairly simple.
First, you will unscrew each end fitting to the full take-up length. Then each end fitting will be connected to the intended securement point. Next, you will rotate the turnbuckle so that each end fitting move in closer together in the center. This will create tension and become more difficult until you reach the desired tension. The final step is to tighten the nuts around each end fitting to the body for added securement.
It is important to note that turnbuckles must be inspected before use and any wear or damage requires replacement. If any parts appear corroded, rusted or damaged, the turnbuckle should not be used.
Choosing top-quality industrial hardware pieces should be a top priority for any application. This includes everything from larger setups to small pieces of hardware, such as turnbuckles. These comparatively small components are responsible for providing necessary tension and holding large applications in place.
If you are on the hunt for an industrial hardware supplier that offers top-quality pieces, look no further than Elite Sales. We carry a wide selection of turnbuckles in multiple styles, sizes, and materials for any application necessary – along with additional hardware pieces for rigging use.
Get in touch with our sales team today to place an order.