January 8, 2008 

'Inside Hydraulics' Newsletter

1. Make your 2008 great
2. If you HAVE to change your oil ... then do this
3. How to synchronize hydraulic cylinders
4. Content for your web site or e-zine
5. Help us spread the word
6. Tell us what you think


Make your 2008 great

Happy New Year.

I've made a significant new year's resolution. Along with my wife, we've decided to buy a second home in Vancouver, Canada. The plan is to divide our time between two very beautiful cities in Australia and North America.

One of the main reasons for choosing Vancouver is so I can indulge my passion for snow skiing. For those of you who know that part of the world, I plan to conduct a lot of client meetings and presentations on Whistler Mountain during the months of December, January and February.

Seriously though, I thought long and hard before sharing this with you. And I certainly don't tell you it to brag. I don't come from a wealthy family and I didn't marry into money. The point I want to make is, the vehicle I've used to achieve the modest level of success that I have - at only 41 - is hydraulics.

It can be dirty at times and it definitely isn't sexy, but it's the horse I've ridden and it's turned out to be a good choice - actually, it chose me. I started in hydraulics nearly 20 years ago when, as an unemployed oilfield diver, I was broke and stuck in Aberdeen, Scotland in the middle of winter. It was dark, cold and depressing. I didn't know it at the time, but not much diving work goes on in the North Sea during the winter months. So, unable to afford my airfare back to sunny Australia, I found myself a job - in a local hydraulics shop. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The fact that you're reading this, suggests to me that you're probably not all that interested in becoming a stock broker or professional share trader. You're either already involved in hydraulics or at least come into contact with it in your day-to-day work. As you can see from my story, I started at the bottom of the pile. So don't envy me - join me.

One of the main factors I attribute to my success and the success of others I observe in this industry is their willingness to invest time and money on their continuing education. I'm a firm believer that if you stop learning you stop earning.

As many of you are aware, I'm been working closely (and now somewhat frantically) with Dr Marian Tumarkin to complete our Advanced Hydraulics self-study course. And it's been quite an experience. I have to tell you, Marian is THE smartest guy I've met in the field of hydraulics.

Like most geniuses, Marian has his quirks - not to mention a strong will. For instance when looking around for a suitable computer simulation software program to include with our course, Marian quickly came to the conclusion that no single program would do the job - we would need two - one for simulating sequential circuits and one for simulating proportional circuits.

Once he started testing these programs, Marian discovered issues he wasn't happy with. Undeterred, he approached the developers and collaborated with them to get specially modified versions - tailored to the learning objectives of our course.

I only wish someone with Marian's wealth of knowledge and teaching ability was accessible to me 20 years ago.

Anyway, if you're still searching for your own 'success vehicle' - you'll go a long way if you choose hydraulics. With the current shortage of skilled people in this industry, the opportunities have never been better.

But whatever you do, here's to YOUR success in 2008.

The Nice Things People Say …

"As a mechanic with more than 30 years experience, I think Industrial Hydraulic Control is excellent. I use it as my hydraulics reference." Find out more ...

R. Soebandi
Equipment Maintenance Supervisor
Oilfield Service Company

2.   If you HAVE to change your oil ... then do this

Bill Vogel, one of our members from California sent me this ripper, recently:

"Brendan, here's a suggestion for a newsletter topic: Changing a mobile hydraulic system from petroleum to biodegradable fluid."

"We would like to change a piece of mobile equipment from petroleum hydraulic fluid (AW46) to a biodegradable Ester-based fluid. In general, what steps should we take and what precautions should we observe? Can you recommend a fluid?"

"We are leaning towards HEE (ester) fluids as recommended by the OEM, but what are the relative merits of HETG (vegetable-based) and HEPG (poly-glycols) fluids? There seem to be differences between the different manufacturer's fluids."

"Some imply no sheen on water and not hazmat. While others mention there is a sheen and clean-up and reporting of spills the same as oil. We'd prefer the most environmentally friendly fluid (that's the whole point) that performs as needed and is readily available."

Hmmm… well firstly, with respect to Bill, this ain't an idea for a newsletter topic - it's more like a subject for a book. With that said, I'm going to start by answering a question with a question:


Why does Bill want to change from mineral based, anti-wear hydraulic fluid to a biodegradable?

The most common reason, in this day and age, is because he has to. That is, some regulatory authority has mandated that if you want to use hydraulic equipment in our patch of pristine wilderness it must be filled with biodegradable oil.

Of course the law makers are smart enough to know that most hydraulic equipment users are lousy at looking after their machines and so they leave a trail of oil everywhere they go. You reap what you sow.

When you think about it, why else would a hydraulic equipment user, most of whom are cheap to the penny, want to pay between 3 and 10 times the cost of mineral oil to replace it with a biodegradable? If the reason is not mandated by regulation, then based on my experience with end users, it's unlikely to be founded on a highly sophisticated maintenance or reliability objective.

Anyway, my first piece of advice to Bill is: if you don't have to - then don't. And it's not about the price of oil. As you'll see in a moment, Bill only needs a couple of 20 liter drums of the stuff, which ain't gonna send him broke.

No, the reason is, when I think of biodegradable hydraulic fluid, I think of my wife. Because they're both high maintenance. And most hydraulic equipment users I come into contact with are just not sophisticated enough in their maintenance practices to take care of a biodegradable oil. If this high-maintenance lube isn't looked after, the eventual result is a maintenance disaster - read: catastrophic failure.

You see, no one told these biodegradable oils they're not suppose to break down until they've managed to find their way out of the hydraulic system. No, given the right (wrong) conditions, they're just as happy to break down while they're still in the hydraulic system.

So unless the user has a proper oil analysis program in place - and by this I mean he knows what to look out for and so is able to specify an appropriate test slate, then changing to biodegradable oil is a disaster waiting to happen. You can get away with a lot of things with a mineral oil that you won't with a biodegradable. They are NOT "fill and forget".

So here's my second piece of advice to Bill: If you DO have to change - get an appropriate oil analysis program in place. And for the uninitiated, taking regular hard particle counts doesn't constitute an oil analysis program.

With that off my chest, let's look at the specifics of Bill's application:

"The machine is used in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. The manufacturer recommends Fuchs Plantohyd S46 or Mobil DTE16. At air temperatures from -10 to +40 degC VG68 is recommended (it's required above 0 degC), and below -10 degC VG32 is recommended. The importer recommends VG46. Even though this area gets a lot of snow, typical winter temperatures are not very severe. Our normal temperature range is from -5 to +5 degC."

These vague and general viscosity recommendations are misleading at best and will be plain wrong in a significant number of applications. Following them without qualification can cause a heap of trouble. Most hydraulic equipment manufacturers are clueless when it comes to getting this issue right, but they don't let that stop them from publishing this nonsense.

The whole issue of temperature and viscosity becomes even more important when changing to an exotic oil - it's essential to do your homework. I spend nearly two hours explaining and discussing this whole issue, including a worked example, in my 'Hydraulic Breakdown Prevention Blueprint'. But I've neither the space nor the inclination to go into it here.

So my third piece of advice for Bill is: Invest in my 'Hydraulic Breakdown Prevention Blueprint' - to avoid a costly mistake (yeah, I know, many of you will be horrified at the very idea of investing in your own technical education - but the fact is, if you don't know all this stuff you're leaving a lot of nickel on the table).

"The machine has two 18 liter hydraulic reservoirs. One is dedicated to the hydrostatic drive (axial-piston variable pump and variable motor operating at 300 bar nominal, 350 bar maximum). The second reservoir feeds a 14cc pump operating at 180-190 bar shared by the hydraulic steering and implement lifting & control (spool valves controlling cylinders and a small intermittent-use vane motor). Each circuit is equipped by the OEM with a 100 micron suction screen in the reservoir and a 25 micron (absolute) pressure filter."

Sheesh, the machine manufacturer needs another kick up the ass. Do YOU know why?

To be continued ...

"Thanks for the great work on the two publications, Insider Secrets to Hydraulics and Preventing Hydraulic Failures. I have been in the hydraulics business for the past 20 years and it's very difficult to find any decent material on hydraulic maintenance, troubleshooting and failure analysis. These two books cover it all in easy to understand language... I conduct hydraulic training courses and plan to purchase copies to distribute to my students to share your practical approach to understanding a not so understandable subject."

Paul W. Craven, Certified Fluid Power Specialist
Motion Industries, Inc.

3.   How to synchronize hydraulic cylinders

The problem of synchronizing multiple hydraulic cylinders arises in many applications. This Instant Knowledge report introduces and explains eight different solutions to this problem. To assist you in selecting the most suitable solution for your application, each method is considered according to its level of accuracy, cost and complexity. The methods discussed are applicable to any number and any type of hydraulic actuator. Find out more

4. Content for your web site or e-zine

Need some fresh content for your web site or e-zine? You now have permission to reprint these 'Inside Hydraulics' articles on your web site or in your e-zine, provided:

1. Each article is printed in its full form with no changes.

2. You send an e-mail to editor@hydraulicsupermarket.com to advise us where you'll be publishing them.

3. You include the following acknowledgement at the end of each article:
About the Author: Brendan Casey has more than 17 years experience in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of mobile and industrial hydraulic equipment. For more information on reducing the operating cost and increasing the uptime of your hydraulic equipment, visit his web site: http://www.InsiderSecretsToHydraulics.com

5. Help us spread the word

If you've found our 'Inside Hydraulics' newsletter interesting and informative, then chances are you have a colleague who would too. Help spread the word about 'Inside Hydraulics' by forwarding this issue to a colleague. If they share your interest in hydraulics, then they will surely appreciate being told about this newsletter.

New subscribers can get the newsletter by completing the form at http://www.insidersecretstohydraulics.com

6. Tell us what you think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of our 'Inside Hydraulics' newsletter. And of course, if you have any suggestions for future issues, please send us those too.

Just e-mail the editor at: newslettersuggestions@hydraulicsupermarket.com

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