Let’s be honest. Some hydraulic failures are real monsters. They can strain even the most skilled, experienced, and patient hydraulic repair specialist. Most times the problem is in the pump because that’s the component most subject to wear in a hydraulic system. You probably know all the signs – increased noise, increased heat, erratic cylinder operation, difficulty or inability to develop full output, decreased cylinder speed or hydraulic motor speed, or just plain system failure altogether.
Other times it might be an unusual or exotic hose assembly – some odd metric size, or something. In any case, we might just happen to have a replacement in our inventory or stuck in a drawer somewhere from another repair project. Other times we can scrounge up a replacement product that works or figure out a perfectly suitable work-around that gets you up and running with minimal down-time and expense and without having to resort to a full custom-fabricated assembly.
It’s hard to believe winter’s almost upon us. With cold weather just around the corner, now’s the time to pay attention to your hydraulic equipment and prepare it for freezing temperatures.
Regardless of what kind of hydraulic equipment you use, if you have hydraulic machines that operate outside or in unheated buildings all winter long, a little pre-season maintenance will go a long way in preventing cold-weather disasters that can cause serious damage and sideline your equipment.
Like many liquids, lubricants and hydraulic fluids can thicken in cold temperatures. Instead of flowing easily through your systems, these liquids can turn to sludge that barely moves. In technical terms, this increased viscosity can result in high fluid and mechanical friction and prevent machine surfaces from being lubricated. You know what that means. Parts overheat, seize up, and stop working. Ouch.
Life for hydraulic machinery is tough enough without having to suffer the abuse that occurs with lack of attention from owners and operators.
If you have hydraulic machinery you rely on day in and day out to earn a living, here are three things you can down to keep your hydraulics happy:
Operate within the manufacturer’s guidelines
Everyone is guilty of occasionally pushing their equipment a little too hard, but if you’re constantly operating beyond the manufacturer’s specs, sooner or later, you’re going to pay for it. Excessive wear and tear on machines not only shortens their life and increases expense, it can also put workers in danger, and nobody wants that. Operating safely means operating within guidelines.
Let’s face it – nobody likes to spend the time, money, and effort it takes to properly maintain hydraulic equipment. Many business owners like to think, “hey the equipment’s designed to take a beating – how much maintenance does it really need?” The truth of the matter is that a little preventative maintenance can go a long way.
Here at Bay State Hydraulics, we’ve put more years than we like to think about into performing planned maintenance for dozens (maybe hundreds) of companies on thousands of pieces of heavy equipment, from logsplitters to giant excavators. In that time, we’ve learned a few things we think all our customers should know about taking care of their equipment so that it lasts as long as possible and costs as little as possible.
We’re talking about planned maintenance and we want to share some thoughts about the things you should pay attention to and have serviced regularly, to avoid unpleasant and potentially expensive surprises:
Hydraulic equipment can be funny. It’s used in a wide variety of punishing applications and subjected to some of the most harsh conditions and work environments in the world and yet it can be, well, almost sensitive. In other words, it needs proper care, especially because of how badly it can be treated.
Having said that, it should come as no surprise that we see all kinds of used and abused hydraulic equipment come through our doors to be repaired. Often it’s brought in by a concerned customer who can’t understand why a particular piece of equipment failed after a relatively short time in service. Unfortunately, they’ve mistakenly believed that because hydraulic equipment can be a big, heavy, rugged piece of machinery, it doesn’t really require any special kind of attention. The result? Out-of-service equipment that ends up costing the company time, money, and even work opportunities. And just as often it turns out to be the same problems, over and over again: