September 2, 2008 

'Inside Hydraulics' Newsletter

1. What are you thinking?
2. How to settle any hydraulics argument
3. Why your current maintenance strategy is wrong
4. Content for your web site or e-zine
5. Help us spread the word
6. Tell us what you think


What are you thinking?

Despite all the noise about smog, over-zealous security, politicking and freedom of the press in the lead up, the Beijing Olympics went off without any major glitches.

Even I've got to admit to watching more TV during the games than I have for the rest of the year. Part of the reason the Olympics are such fascinating viewing is the drama. Of giants stumbling. Of dark horses coming from nowhere to snatch victory. Lost opportunities. And triumphant comebacks.

As usual, there were lots of these stories and we've all got one or more that sticks in our mind. One athlete whose fortunes I followed more closely than most was Australian swimmer Eamon Sullivan. His mom and pop live a couple of doors from me and so I often see him around the neighborhood.

Sullivan is the fastest man in the world in both the 50 and 100 meters freestyle. And a giant who stumbled in Beijing. In the 100 meters he got silver. The day of the 50 meters final, I missed the live telecast.

While anxiously waiting for a replay, I grabbed the morning newspaper. After reading about a poolside interview he gave the previous day, I no longer needed to see the race. I knew he was beat. Beaten by his thinking. Before he even stood on the starting block.

The experts agree, at elite level - where fractions of a second can separate first and last, mindset is crucial. And if I was Sullivan's coach, I'd be hiring the sport psychologist Michael Phelps uses.

But mindset is not only critical to the success of elite athletes. How we think is critical to the success of us mere mortals too.

One of our members wrote me recently explaining how he was a very accomplished technician, but he would never be an engineer.

My reaction to this was: why not?

And if not, only because you say so.

Why do people limit themselves like this? Sure, there's always obstacles we can point to - reasons why we're stuck where we are. While a teenager, Sullivan had both his hips replaced. He didn't let that stop from becoming an elite athlete and dual world-record holder. But I'm sure he could have. Sounds like a perfect excuse to me. Had he wanted one.

I am always amazed when I come across people involved with hydraulic equipment who can't read a hydraulic schematic. I even know guys with decades of experience in hydraulics who just walk away when a schematic is rolled out.

At some point early in their career they must have decided they could not read them and so they don't. Thinking makes it so.

Contrary to what you may believe, reading schematics is not a difficult skill to learn. And I am convinced anyone who wants to can master it. Today's computer software makes it easier than ever before. But even the latest tools are no help to someone who thinks: "I can't ".

This is not to suggest positive thinking is all that is required for any achievement. On the contrary, thinking positively without backing it up with appropriate action is futile.

A couple of weeks ago I became aware I'd been thinking about two business ideas and a new book project for way too long - with no action. And even though I could think of loads of excuses not to - too busy; too hard; too risky; too complicated - I acted to set all three projects in motion that same day.

Figure out what is holding you back.

Accept no excuses - from yourself or anyone else.

And act.


You can.

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Maintenance In Action

2.   How to settle any hydraulics argument

Earlier this year, I wrote an article for Machinery Lubrication magazine in which I debunked the myth that if the piston seal in a double-acting cylinder is leaking, the piston rod will drift. Fact is, it won't.

One reader, who couldn't grasp the concept, wrote the following to the magazine's editor:

"I will gladly eat my college diploma if Mr. Casey is correct in his assertion that:

"… if the piston seal is completely removed from a double-acting cylinder… the cylinder will hold its load indefinitely unless the rod-seal leaks."

"If what he said is correct, then why do we put seals on the pistons? Maybe the need for piston seals is just another "popular misconception".

I fear that Mr. Casey's assertion will not hold water any better than his cylinder (minus seals)."

Truly, this was the most entertaining reading I've had all week… better than the comics even."

Other people's ignorance rarely bothers me. But frankly I was steamed when I got this. For no other reason than, because his letter had come to me via the magazine's editor, I couldn't just ignore the nitwit.

So I hit reply and started typing. Pretty soon there was heat coming off my keyboard. After several minutes I stopped writing and thought to myself: "This is pointless….a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still…"

Then I did what I should have done in the first place. I opened up my simulation software. And eight minutes later I had a model which demonstrates what actually happens in a double-acting cylinder with a leaking piston seal. I made a video of it and sent copies to my skeptical reader and the editor of Machinery Lubrication.

This video is conclusive because seeing is believing. And it's definitely worth eight minutes of your time. Watch the video here.

"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.   Why your current maintenance strategy is wrong

If any aspect of your equipment maintenance strategy is based on linear thinking, it's wrong. To understand why, read my column in the July-August 2008 Issue of Machinery Lubrication available here,

To receive a complimentary subscription to this informative magazine (US and Canada only) go to:

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 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 19 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:

5. Help us spread the word

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6. Tell us what you think

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