July 13, 2010 

'Inside Hydraulics' Newsletter

1. Jack of all trades... master of ONE
2. Something to think about next time you change a hose
3. How to define your machine's temperature operating window
4. Content for your web site or e-zine
5. Help us spread the word
6. Tell us what you think


Jack of all trades... master of ONE

James Barnes, one of our members from the United States, sent me this recently:

"Here in the U.S., factory maintenance personnel are being displaced from being an expert in a single trade such as electrical and are now required to function in any aspect of maintenance that comes about, especially in production facilities. I'm an electrical technician, but I'm also required to be a mechanic, a plumber, a welder, even a tool maker if necessary. It's a terrible change in my opinion."

"So much of the expertise of dedicated skilled tradesmen is going away as many reach retirement age and are replaced by younger workers who are eager, but inexperienced. This is another reason why spreading one tradesman across 5 or 6 disciplines causes deficiencies in U.S. manufacturing. But anyway, I will continue to absorb your hydraulics lessons. It has made a noticeable improvement in my problem solving knowledge."

Although this is an interesting insight, whether you relate to it or not depends on what you are used to. By this I mean, if you are accustomed to working in large organizations which are big enough to have one or more dedicated tradesmen of each discipline on staff, then the kind of change James describes above would indeed come as a bit of a shock.

If on the other hand, you've spent considerable time working in small enterprises, which don't usually have the necessary scale to hire dedicated tradespeople for each of the disciplines they require, you're probably accustomed to, and comfortable with being a 'jack of all trades'.

I grew up on a farm which was fairly isolated, and so self-sufficiency was pretty much a necessity. If something broke, you fixed it - using the skills and resources available to you. There's kind of a standing joke that any repair done by a farmer involves the use of either baling twine or fencing wire - and sometimes both.

But in actual fact, a lot of farmers are also skilled mechanics, welders, machinists, electricians and builders. And it's not just farmers of course. As mentioned above, any tradesman who has spent considerable time working for small enterprise is likely to have become quite accomplished in one or more disciplines outside of their primary specialization.

Having observed and worked with many such 'jack of all trades' over the years, I know there are two essential requirements for succeeding as a multi-discipline tradesman. The first is a 'can do' attitude, and the second is a willingness to learn.

A can do attitude and a willingness to learn. When you think about it, these traits are not only necessary for those seeking to master a second or third trade; they're essential for life's success - in a continuously changing world.

And as James' experience shows, you can never have too many 'strings in your bow'. If you already have two, great, add a third. If you have three, add a fourth. Embrace a can do attitude and a willingness to learn. It can only make you more successful at whatever you do.

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.   Something to think about next time you change a hose

The hose fabrication process - or more specifically - the hose cutting process introduces contamination, in the form of metal particles from the hose's wire reinforcement and the cutting blade itself, and polymer dust from the hose's out cover and inner tube.

The amount of contamination which enters the hose during cutting can be reduced by employing techniques such as using a wet cutting blade instead of a dry one, blowing clean air through the hose as it is being cut and/or using a vacuum extraction device. The latter two aren't very practical when cutting long lengths of hose from a roll or in a mobile hose-van situation.

Therefore the main focus must be on effectively removing this cutting residue - and any other contamination that might be present in the hose - prior to installation. The most efficient and therefore most popular way of doing this is by blowing a foam cleaning projectile through the hose.

The manufacturers of these cleaning systems claim that hose cleanliness levels as good as ISO 4406 13/10 are achievable. But like most everything else, the results achieved depend on a number of variables, which include using a projectile of the correct diameter for the hose being cleaned, whether the projectile is used dry or wetted with solvent, and the number of shots fired. Generally, the higher the number of shots, the cleaner the hose assembly. Oh, and if it is a new hose assembly that's being cleaned, the projectile cleaning should be done BEFORE the ends are crimped on.

Almost all hydraulic hose fabricators these days have and use hose cleaning projectiles. But how meticulous they are when doing it is another matter entirely. This means if you want to ensure you take delivery of hose assemblies to a certain standard of cleanliness, it's something you must specify and insist upon - as this little story from another of our members illustrates:

"I was changing some hoses on a Komatsu 300 HD for a customer and he noticed me washing out a hose before I put it on, so he asked: "They clean them when they make them don't they?" I said yup but I like to check. I took the caps off a new hose and washed it with solvent and emptied the contents into some paper towel as he watched. His response was wholly sh-t!"

And it's not just the standard of the cleaning which must be insisted upon. A few years back I was at a customer's premises when their hose supplier arrived to deliver a big bunch of hose assemblies. When the pallet came off the truck it was obvious to anyone with eyes that none of the hoses were capped to prevent contaminant ingression. And the customer accepted them. Nuts. As soon as I saw what was going on, I advised this customer to require all hoses be delivered with caps installed and not to accept them otherwise. This sort of penny foolishness should not be tolerated from any hose fabricator.

"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 define your machine's temperature operating window

One of the most important proactive maintenance exercises you can do for a piece of hydraulic equipment is to define its temperature operating window (TOW). In the March 2010 Issue of Machinery Lubrication available here, I explain how to do it.

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.HydraulicSupermarket.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: