World War II produced a host of inventions, some of which are still in
use today. It’s common knowledge that the Germans used nitrous oxide to
make the Messerschmitt fighter planes climb higher and faster than the
Allies’ planes. When the allies shot down the first German plane they
noted a unique device also pioneered by Messerschmitt, the rod end.
One U.S. company received the nod to duplicate this new control link.
The H.G. Heim company was granted all U.S. patents, and to this day the
part retains the nickname "Heim Joint". After the Korean War the
surplus aircraft parts market boomed. Hundreds of varieties of rod ends
became available at a tenth of their original cost. Many of these parts,
while designed for aircraft, were not up to the task of suspension links
for race cars. High quality and economical rod ends didn’t appear until
the late '70s. They were produced by a Japanese company, N.M.B., which
was caught by the U.S. government "dumping" (selling below cost)
rod ends in the U.S. market. N.M.B. had to form a U.S. presence or leave
the marketplace, so they bought a U.S. company, N.H.B.B. (New Hampshire
Ball Bearing) and continue to make aircraft-quality rod ends today.
As the Heim patents ran out, a U.S. company began to manufacture
economical rod ends for the power transmission industry. Superior
Industries mass produced economical rod ends and over the course of a few
years people from Superior formed Aurora, National, and several other rod
end companies. Today over fifteen American companies make rod ends in the
U.S. These products run the gamut from the stamped steel bodies used in
control links for garden tractors to the 17-4 PH stainless units found on