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The Importance of Proper Maintenance for Hydraulic Cylinders



Performing preventative maintenance activities can extend the lifespan of hydraulic cylinders. Additionally, it enables them to function at their best, consuming less energy and thus saving money.

Inspecting the cylinder for various issues, including rod and barrel damage and corrosion, is essential. It is also important to periodically check the seals for proper lubrication and wear and to perform pressure and performance testing.

Inspecting the Rod

The rod is another critical component of hydraulic cylinders, and proper maintenance is essential to its longevity. This includes regularly inspecting the rod for signs of damage and wear, including corrosion and other cosmetic issues that can lead to performance problems.

A nick or gouge in the rod is a potential stress riser and could eventually crack under operating pressure. Regularly checking the rod for flaws and swapping out a worn-out rod for a new one can significantly extend its lifespan.

Before beginning any inspection of the rod, ensure all power sources are disconnected, and there is no remaining pressure in the cylinder. Then, locate the retaining bolts that hold the end cap in place and loosen them. It is essential to loosen them evenly so that they do not cause unexpected movement during disassembly. This is also an excellent opportunity to clean the rod. Keeping the rod clean helps to reduce friction and prevents a buildup of debris that can clog the seals.

Inspecting the Cylinder

Using the proper hydraulic cylinder is essential for keeping machinery functioning at its best. Selecting the cylinder for the application begins with knowing the load requirements and operating environment. It also involves determining the correct rod diameter and strength. It is essential to examine the surface of the cylinder and cylinder tube for damage or rust.

Hissing noises often indicate an internal leak in the cylinder that can lead to low actuating pressure or even failure. It is also essential to check the rod seal for wear or contamination.

Before performing any inspection, following the appropriate steps to depressurize the cylinder is crucial. This can be done by following the manufacturer’s instructions and ensuring that all power sources are isolated from the system. Wearing the proper personal protection equipment is also crucial. This is especially important since it can prevent accidents while handling compressed air. Having a copy of the cylinder’s manufacturer’s specifications and inspection procedures is also helpful.

Inspecting the Seals

Hydraulic cylinder seals are a small part of the overall cylinder but play an essential role in preventing fluid leaks and maintaining proper pressure. Hydraulic products should be inspected regularly for cracks and damage to prevent more extensive problems. They must also be lubricated periodically using the manufacturer’s recommended frequency and lubricant.

It’s also a good idea to check the connections for signs of wear or damage. A faulty connection could allow excess pressure to build up in one area, increasing the wear and tear on that particular component.

Finally, it’s also a good idea to check for twisted rods. Twisting creates uneven stress on the cylinder and increases the chance of failure. In addition, a twisted rod can cause the piston to be misaligned inside the barrel, increasing wear and tear and causing excessive friction. A reputable repair shop can handle these issues by disassembling, cleaning, resealing, and re-chroming the cylinder.

Inspecting the Connections

Inspecting the connections of a hydraulic cylinder is essential for proper maintenance. Brackets, red eyes, and ball joints need regular service to prevent skew and misalignment, which can lead to excessive vibration and inaccurate motion.

Make sure all components are properly lubricated to reduce friction and wear. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for lubrication frequency and type.

Rods should be regularly checked for corrosion, pitting, or wear that could result in increased friction and seal damage. A rough, scored, or damaged rod can bend the seals, mounts, and cause leaks.

If downtime is not an option, holding a ‘critical spare’ or rotating cylinder parts regularly is a good idea. This provides a break between usage and helps keep the parts in good shape despite possible particle contamination and harsh operating conditions. This is especially important if the cylinders are used to operate at high-duty cycles.