Hydraulics At Work

Who DO you trust with YOUR hydraulic machine?

One of my Hydraulics Pro Club members, who I'll call John (not his real name) wrote me his story:

"I'm an owner/operator of a small concrete pumping business. We have 12 years experience operating concrete pumps but limited knowledge of hydraulics. I have no faith in the manufacturer's dealer. They don't give away any information and I'm not happy with the work they do. Plus, they're 6 hours away.

So I need to gather my own information on hydraulics to become more self sufficient. For example, I'm currently trying to diagnose a problem which I wasn't aware I had until the manufacturer pointed it out during my last annual boom inspection.

I'm not sure, but I think the machine has been doing it the whole time we've owned it, which is 5 years. When the machine is sitting idling, the swinger-ram pressure is fluctuating between 1200 PSI and 1500 PSI. I've asked them what the problem could be. They say: 'Bring it in. We need to go through the whole system. Probably a leaking o-ring somewhere.' For reasons already stated, I'm not keen to take the machine to them, with a free hand to 'go through the whole system'."

It's understandable that John is wary about taking his machine to the dealer. After all, entrusting your livelihood to a bunch of grease monkeys of unknown ability requires a BIG leap of faith. Especially when you consider that, according to the Fluid Power Safety Institute, 98% of people who service, repair and maintain hydraulic systems are not properly trained.*

So John has good cause to wonder: who is going to be working on my hydraulic machine and do they really know what they're doing? In other words: can I trust them?

I'm not a concrete pump expert, but I told John the swinger circuit usually features an accumulator. In which case it would be normal for the pump to unload at 1500 PSI and reload to charge the accumulator when pressure drops to 1200 PSI. That said, if the pump and accumulator are cycling rapidly between 1200 and 1500 PSI, this indicates the accumulator's gas-end needs attention, or there's an oil leak in the accumulator circuit.

It would've been no skin off the dealer's nose to share this insight with John. In fact, it would have given John confidence that they do know what they're talking about. Trouble is, maybe they DON'T. And that's the problem for machine owners like John.

The upshot of all this is, if you don't do your homework when choosing a hydraulic repair shop, it can cause a lot of heartache. Unfortunately, like most other industries, the hydraulics biz has its share of shoddy and incompetent operators. In chapters 14, 15 and 16 of 'Insider Secrets to Hydraulics', I deal with this subject at length: how to choose a hydraulic repair shop; the things to look for when you do; and how to avoid being taken for a ride.

For me though, the BEST part is knowing Insider Secrets is helping hydraulic equipment users, both large and small, all over the world -- something it's being doing for 12 years now, and counting. In the words of legendary success coach, author and speaker, Jim Rohn:

"A book is the best investment anyone can make because someone puts 30 years of their life experience into 300 pages and sells it for $30."

'Insider Secrets to Hydraulics' is this type of book. If you own or are responsible for the upkeep of hydraulic equipment, and you haven't read it yet, you can fix that here, now.

*Reference: "No Substitute for Safety", Hydraulics and Pneumatics Magazine, April 2013; p 56.

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