February 5, 2008 

'Inside Hydraulics' Newsletter

1. Have I offended you lately?
2. If you HAVE to change your oil ... part 2
3. How to diagnose hydraulic cylinder drift
4. Content for your web site or e-zine
5. Help us spread the word
6. Tell us what you think


Have I offended you lately?

In late November last year I had lunch with Alan Hitchcox and Paul Heney the editors of Hydraulics & Pneumatics magazine. It was a fine day in Cleveland as I wandered down East 9th Street to the Penton Media Building. But the wind blasting across Lake Erie was cold enough to make a polar bear run for cover. And by the time I presented my Hydraulic Breakdown Prevention Blueprint a couple of days later, there was snow on the ground.

During our lunch, Alan asked me where I get the story ideas for this newsletter. I explained that I often draw on my experiences as a consultant in the field and others are inspired by questions or problems sent in by our members.

I suggested to Alan, that as an editor, I have much more latitude than he does when it comes to choosing the issues I write about and how I tackle them. Because I don't have to worry about upsetting my advertisers.

This allows me to call things as I see them - and for our members to get what I sincerely hope is the most un-biased, straightforward, blunt, non-sugarcoated, no-nonsense, no B.S. commentary on hydraulics available anywhere.

Of course, this (I hope) worthwhile pursuit has to be funded somehow. And the absence of advertisers means that from time to time you will receive a message from me promoting my own products and services - resources designed to help you…

If you're a student… help you pass an exam, get qualified. If you're a professional … help you do your job better, get a better one, get a pay rise. If you're an equipment owner… help you reduce your operating costs, reduce your dependency on outside suppliers (increase your profits). If you're a hydraulic shop owner… help you train your guys, improve your skills base, expand your product and service offering (make more money).

Even in these messages there's always a point worth making and value to be gained from their reading. Certainly NOT a valid reason to disconnect from this unique and valuable resource.

But my blunt and often provocative style isn't for everyone. And I know I repel more people than I attract. Then there are those who would have me burnt at the stake - as a heretic. True story: when Insider Secrets to Hydraulics was first published just over five years ago, I received a barrage of hate mail from other industry insiders. People who hadn't bothered to read the book, by the way - which speaks volumes about the ignorance of my detractors.

I care little for those sensitive souls and the meek of heart who scatter in the other direction. For I write for members like you. People who share, if not my passion, then at least a meaningful interest in this oily business called hydraulics.

The Nice Things People Say …

"If more hydraulics users had this information - us manufacturers would have less problems!" Find out more ...

Phil Serre
International Director of Training

2.   If you HAVE to change your oil ... part 2

In Issue #70, I started to discuss an application in which Bill Vogel, one of our members from California, is (was?) considering changing out a mineral oil for a biodegradable.

This article generated a lot of mail, but before I summarize that, let's pick up where we left off last month.

"The machine has two 18 liter hydraulic reservoirs… Each circuit is equipped by the OEM with a 100 micron suction screen in the reservoir and a 25 micron (absolute) pressure filter."

Bill's read all my books, so he knew this bit would arc me up. As an aside, last week someone sent me a link to a post on a message board where my advice to remove and discard suction strainers was being discussed. One poster asserted that to make this recommendation, I must own shares in all the major pump manufacturers "because it's a lot cheaper to replace a suction strainer than it is to replace a pump".

You have to laugh. Inadvertently though, this not-so-sharp hydraulic equipment owner may have uncovered the reason why some hydraulic pump manufacturers also actively manufacture and market suction strainers.

So no prizes for guessing what my fourth piece of advice to Bill is. Particularly if he were to select a triglyceride (vegetable-based oil), which have peculiar pour point characteristics (flow at low temperature) compared to mineral oils.

Moving on, Bill sent me this in response to last month's instalment:

"Fortunately we do have a choice; we aren't mandated to go biodegradable. (Two of) the reasons I'm considering it are:

  1. OEM's recommendation, and
  2. The obvious 'good stewardship' in the mountain environment in the event of an inadvertent spill."

With respect to number 1, I've seen this before from European Manufacturers. They seem to think they are taking 'green' leadership by recommending an 'environmentally friendly' lube as the first choice.

But how 'green' are these oils really? Consider this, sent to me by Hans Storeboe from Norway:

"In the Swedish county of Goetheborg, they have removed regulations against mineral hydraulic fluids. It was found that breakdowns and leaks were ten fold with biodegradable fluid - resulting in an overall increase in oil spill. And biodegradable fluid is not harmless to nature. Continuous production of new spare parts isn't either."

"Not harmless to nature …" indeed, the US EPA (Clean Water Act) takes a similar position:

"Like petroleum-based oils, non-petroleum oils can have both immediate and long-term adverse effects on the environment and can be dangerous or even deadly to wildlife. For example, non-petroleum oils can deplete available oxygen needed by aquatic organisms, foul aquatic biota, and coat the fur and/or feathers of wildlife. For example, when a bird's plumage is coated with non-petroleum oil, their feathers lose their insulating properties, placing them at risk of freezing to death."

"Birds that are covered with non-petroleum oils also can smother embryos through the transfer of non-petroleum oil from the parents' plumage to the eggs. Birds and wildlife can ingest oil directly and may continue to ingest the oil as they eat if the source of their food consists of fish, shellfish, or vegetation that also are contaminated with non-petroleum oils. Other adverse effects of spilled non-petroleum oil on bird and wildlife include drowning, mortality by predation, dehydration, starvation, and/or suffocation."

Thanks to Bill Patnode from Algonquin Power for bringing the above to my attention.

So biodegradable doesn't mean eco-friendly. And if machine reliability is compromised in any way - and it will be without due care and attention, then the environment may actually be worse off with non-mineral than with mineral oil.

The ironic thing is these non-mineral lubes are the hydraulic fluids of the future. On the 9th of January this year, the head of car giant General Motors publicly warned that the switch to bio-fuels such as ethanol is now inevitable.

If he's right, then it's safe for me to predict that in the not too distant future, we won't have a choice. We'll all be filling our hydraulic tanks with a non-mineral oil. And when this happens effective maintenance practices, like those I advocate, won't be optional - they'll be mandatory.

But for the time being at least, Bill does have a choice. And my advice is to change to a biodegradable - when the cheap supply of mineral oil runs out.

"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 diagnose hydraulic cylinder drift

WARNING: This article may challenge what you believe to be true about internal leakage in hydraulics cylinders. For a frank discussion of this subject - that explodes a popular myth, read Brendan Casey's article in the November-December 2007 Issue of Machinery Lubrication magazine, available here. To receive a complimentary subscription to this informative magazine (US and Canada only) go to: http://www.machinerylubrication.com/hydraulic1.asp

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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