April 6, 2010 

'Inside Hydraulics' Newsletter

1. How to survive - and prosper - in any economy
2. Lies, darn lies ... and contamination
3. Four diagnostic tests you should know
4. Content for your web site or e-zine
5. Help us spread the word
6. Tell us what you think


How to survive - and prosper - in any economy

I just got back from a 12 day trip to Germany and Italy. In Germany I had my hydraulics 'hat' on, attending a didactic exhibition, which was both interesting and productive.

In Italy, I was wearing a totally different 'hat'. I attended the Bologna Children's Book Fair to give my children's book a push. And as you can see from the picture below, push it I did.

Brendan at the Bologna Children's Book Fair

BC and 'Farmer Mick Harvest Time Havoc' at the Bologna Book Fair

The reason I'm telling (and showing) you this here is because if you want to advance in your business or profession, whether that's hydraulics or anything else, you need to become good at - and comfortable with, promoting yourself.

But if you're like me, this is something that, initially at least, goes against the grain. You see, I grew up in a conservative family, in which modesty was considered a virtue; you didn't go round 'blowing your own trumpet'. It was just not the done thing.

But this is something I had to un-learn pretty quickly when I took up oilfield diving. With lots more divers around than there were jobs, those who didn't (or couldn't) get out there and hustle either starved or found something else to do.

And so it is with children's books. When I wrote Farmer Mick Harvest Time Havoc, I already knew the world didn't need another children's book. There's millions of them out there already, and hundreds more published every day. The noise is deafening.

Which is why I also knew if MY children's book was ever going to get any traction in the market place, it wouldn't happen by itself; if it's going to be it's up to me. Hence my visit to the Children's Book Fair in Bologna - as a walking billboard for my book, as you can see above.

Oh, and as an aside, writing a children's book is not something I did to get rich. Which is lucky considering very few children's authors do - and I'm donating all of my author royalties from the book to a children's charity anyway.

Of course not all professions are as crowded and competitive as being a children's author. I speak often about the widespread shortage of skilled hydraulics people. And this is a generally accepted fact by those who do the hiring and firing in this business.

When demand exceeds supply, it's a sellers market. Which means if you're a hydraulics guy or are considering pursuing hydraulics as a specialization, you're in the box seat, so to speak. After all, the best time to be a nurse is when there's a shortage of nurses. And the best time to be a hydraulics specialist is when they're like hen's teeth.

HOWEVER, this is not to say you can sit at home and wait for the phone to ring, of course. You still have to be willing - and able - to get out there and promote yourself.

And if you're good enough - and ready for action, you should never be afraid to stand up, march to the door and tell the world.

A new member wrote me recently saying that he really liked my website even though it was "a bit self-promoting". Then he said: "But I guess that's what you gotta do to survive in this economy."

He's only half right. It's what you gotta do to survive - and prosper, in ANY economy.

The Nice Things People Say ...

"The knowledge I've gained from this information has been so valuable it has earned me a raise!" Find out more ...

Jack Bergstrom
Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Sharpe Equipment

2.   Lies, darn lies ... and contamination

One of our members, who is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), consulted me recently about a series of failures his machines have suffered with a particular brand of radial piston motor.

When he first went to the motor manufacturer about the problem - and to pursue a warranty claim, he was told the failures were due to contamination. So no warranty.

Not satisfied with this response, he got my books Insider Secrets to Hydraulics and Preventing Hydraulic Failures, and after studying them, conducted his own failure analysis.

He came to the conclusion that the failures were nothing to do with the cleanliness (or otherwise) of the oil. So he went back to the motor manufacturer with his findings, and when pressed, the manufacturer agreed with his analysis - verbally at least. But still no warranty.

Because even though the motor manufacturer agreed with his (subsequently) informed analysis of the failures, they then advised him they were being caused by a flaw in the design of his circuit.

And this MAY be the case. But whether there is a problem with the circuit or not, this customer has a right to be pee'd of with the motor manufacturer. I would be too.

Two reasons. The first is, based on my experience, "contamination" is the standard blow-off given by all pump and motor manufacturers to avoid warranty claims. They know how hard it is to argue down, not least because when a pump or motor fails, there is almost always evidence of contamination damage - even though in the majority of cases the contamination has occurred after the fact, or is inconsequential to it.

I have been on the receiving end of this sort of treatment myself. A few years back, I built three diesel-hydraulic power units with Parker piston pumps. After less than 10 hours work, one of the pumps was separating (cylinder block separates from the valve plate under pressure).

So I tore down the pump and quickly discovered that the valve plate was hung up on its dowel pin, meaning it wasn't sitting flush against the head, and therefore, square to the cylinder barrel. This explained why the pump was separating - it hadn't been assembled properly at the factory.

If ever there was a clear cut case of a legitimate warranty claim, this was it. So I invited the Parker rep to inspect the pump. As soon as he saw the scoring on the running faces of the cylinder barrel and valve plate - which were the consequence of the cylinder barrel separating from the valve plate, his "training?" kicked in and he said: "You've got a contamination problem here." In other words, warranty denied. With that he just walked away. The 'judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

At least in this instance, the component manufacturer's contamination 'smoke screen' didn't result in subsequent failures - as appears to be the case with the radial piston motors described above.

Because the motor manufacturer played their contamination ace card - instead of doing an honest and open investigation into the REAL cause of the failure, the circuit problem was not discovered until the customer conducted his own failure analysis AFTER subsequent failures had occurred. Not good. And very expensive for the customer - it has cost him a six-figure sum.

This story illustrates the importance of doing proper failure analysis - or having it done for you. And to be aware that, in reality, very few catastrophic failures are caused by contamination - and when they are, it's usually very obvious. Degenerative failures, yes. Catastrophic failures, no.

"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.   Four diagnostic tests you should know

Fundamentals of Hydraulics and Troubleshooting explains when and how to use diagnostic tests, including the direct pump test, system T test, spool valve leakage test and cylinder piston seal leakage test - all from the convenience of your lap top or desk top computer. 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 20 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

Copyright 2000-2010 by HydraulicSupermarket.com. All rights reserved.

To subscribe to this newsletter, go to: