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Agriculture

Hydraulics 101 for Beginners
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Apr 18, 2016, 10:02

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Learn about the basics of hydraulics for tractors, farm equipment, log splitters or other equipment and machinery, how hydraulic systems work and how to maintain a hydraulic pump.

What is Hydraulics?

A hydraulic system uses compressed fluid to transfer force applied at one point to another point. The basic components that make up a hydraulic system are:

Reservoir
Pump
Valves
Fluid
Motor
Hose
Filter
Cylinder

The hydraulic reservoir stores non-pressurized hydraulic fluid, typically hydraulic oil. This fluid is the lifeblood of the hydraulic system. The hydraulic oil also travels through a filter that collects impurities.

Hydraulic pumps transfer the fluid from the reservoir to the hydraulic system. This transfer raises the energy level of the fluid by increasing its pressure. The motor provides the power source for the pump.

The high-pressure fluid acts upon the rod and piston within a hydraulic cylinder. Each stroke of the cylinder converts the fluid power (pressure) into work (mechanical force). The reservoir oil level falls while the rod and piston are extending.

When the rod and piston retract, the fluid returns to the reservoir. The metal walls of the reservoir cool the fluid by allowing heat to escape. The reduced pressure in the reservoir also allows trapped or dissolved air to escape from the fluid. If cylinders must compress air bubbles, the efficiency of the system is reduced.

There are two types of valves, directional control valves and pressure relief valves. Directional control valves manage the flow path of the fluid in the system. Pressure relief valves protect the system plumbing and components against pressure overloads. They also limit the output force exerted by rotary motors and cylinders. These valves open whenever the pressure goes beyond the set value, allowing oil to flow back into the reservoir.

The fluid travels from one component to the next within a hydraulic system through a hydraulic hose.

Types of Hydraulic Valves

The following types of hydraulic valves are available at Tractor Supply Co. Check with your local store for more information:

Converta Valve
Detent Kit
SCO Open Center / Detent Valve
Open Center Valve
Two Circuit Hydraulic Multi-Plier Valve
SBS Series Valves
Single Spool, 3-Position, 4 Way
Double Spool, Both 3-Position, 4 Way
Double Spool, Both 3-Position,
4 Way w/Float


Q and A: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Hydraulics

Q: What is the difference between a one-stage pump and a two-stage pump?
A: A one-stage, or single-stage, pump has only one maximum pressure and one flow rate. Single-stage pumps are typically attached to the crankshaft or PTO shaft on a farm tractor or large industrial engine. Applications for a single stage pump include backhoes and manure loaders. Two-stage pumps are typically mounted to small gas or diesel engines. A two-stage pump will first produce high volumes of fluid, moving the cylinder in and out quickly. When the pump receives resistance, a second set of gears will produce high pressures for lifting or splitting. However, the volume of fluid will drop considerably during this stage. This mechanism has many practical applications. For example, in log splitters equipped with a two-stage pump, in stage one, the rod travels faster up the cradle until the rod starts to split the wood. At that point, the speed slows but the force increases.
Q: What is the difference between a single-acting cylinder and a double-acting cylinder?
A: In a single-acting cylinder, pressure is applied to one side of the piston. Therefore, work occurs in one direction only. The cylinder returns to its original position under the weight of the load (or by means of a manual lever). In a double-acting cylinder, pressure can be applied to either side of the piston. This allows work to occur in either direction.
Q: What is the difference between a tie-rod cylinder and a welded cylinder?
A: Tie-rod cylinders are held together by four rods. They cost less than welded cylinders and are easy to repair. On a welded cylinder, the fixed end is welded in place, adding strength and durability for high-pressure applications such as log splitters.
Q: What is the difference between an open and closed system?
A: The terms “open system” and “closed system” refer to two methods of reducing the pressure on the pump, which minimizes wear and tear. Open systems are common on log splitters and most tractors prior to 1960. When an open system is in neutral, an open center valve connects all lines directly back to the reservoir, bypassing the pump. The pump is always pumping, allowing a constant flow of oil without building pressure. Closed systems are common on construction machinery and modern farm equipment, including most John Deere models. When a closed system is in neutral, the closed center valve blocks the flow of oil from the pump. The oil travels instead to an accumulator, which stores the oil under pressure.
Q: How do I convert an open system to a closed system?
A: To convert an open center valve to a closed center valve, remove the short conversion plug and replace it with a closed center plug. You must also replace the relief valve on the handle end with a “no relief” plug. Once you convert to a closed system, you will need to plumb an outlet to the tank to dump the oil from the return passage. Refer to the valve packaging for further instructions and part numbers.
Q: What is the difference between NPTF and JIC fittings?
A: NPTF and JIC fittings both prevent leakage on the ports of hydraulic components. However, NPTF or “dry seal” taper pipe threads do this by using the resistance of the male to female thread taper. JIC or “straight” threads use an O-ring. Note: Do not use JIC and NPTF fittings interchangeably. Significant damage to the seal and the parts could result. However, you can purchase special adapters to convert from one type of fitting to another. Consult Tractor Supply’s product catalog for a complete listing of fittings and adaptors.
Q: What is the difference between the various I.S.O. tips and OEM old-style tips and couplers?
A: There are three types of I.S.O. tips. All three are interchangeable with each other and universal, except as noted below. The I.S.O. tip with ball was the first standard, universal tip in the marketplace. It seals with a metal-to-metal seat. This seal tends to “weep” when disconnected, but it is still the most widely used tip in the industry. The I.S.O. tip with poppet has the same basic design. However, this tip seals with an O-ring that presses together with the poppet to form a tight, 360-degree seal. This “soft seal” reduces fluid loss. In the future, this will be the choice of OEM manufacturers. The I.S.O. tip with pressure relief poppet has a secondary poppet in the tip. When pressure builds up in the hose, this secondary poppet allows pressure to be displaced to the coupler. The tip can then connect without pressure. Certain OEM designs that predate the introduction of I.S.O. tips require the use of OEM old-style tips. These tips and couplers are unique to each manufacturer, and cannot be interchanged. Specific conversion adapters are required for these machines to accept I.S.O. tips. See the in-store conversion adapter chart for more information.
Q: Can I use galvanized or brass fittings?
A: No. Galvanized and brass fittings do not meet the psi ratings of hydraulic systems. The metal tends to flake. This flaking can contaminate the oil and damage the hydraulic pump.
Q: Can Teflon tape be used on hydraulic fittings?
A: No. Teflon tape may flake. This flaking can contaminate the oil and damage the pump. Warranties are typically voided by using Teflon tape. Use a hydraulic-rated liquid Teflon sealant instead.
Q: Can I use a standard valve for a single-acting cylinder?
A: No. A standard valve does not permit oil to escape as the cylinder retracts. This trapped oil eventually causes a pressure overload. If you are converting to a single-acting cylinder, Tractor Supply stocks a Converta valve specifically designed for that purpose. >Note: The Converta valve does not have a loadcheck. Do not use this valve in a load-lifting system.
Q: What valve do I need for a loader?
A: Tractor Supply carries two valves ideal for loader applications. The SBAF2 is a double-spool valve with a floating detent on the first spool that allows the bucket to ride the contours of the ground. The SBA22 is a double-spool valve that is spring-centered to neutral on both spools, so that there is no “float.”
Q: What valve do I need for a log splitter?
A: Tractor Supply offers an open-center, single-spool valve specifically designed for log splitters. This valve has a preset 2000 psi relief, but is adjustable. The valve is also rated for a 30 GPM flow rate.
Q: What is the difference between hydraulic oil and hydraulic fluid?
A: Hydraulic oil is petroleum oil refined for use in hydraulic systems. This oil typically has additives to prevent rust and minimize foaming. Hydraulic fluid is any liquid in a hydraulic system that is not petroleum-based (such as water-based and synthetic mixtures.) These fluids are used in applications where there is a risk of fire (such as wet brakes, clutches, and transmissions). Note: The term “hydraulic fluid” is often used interchangeably to mean oil or any other fluid within a hydraulic system. Refer to your owner’s manual for the requirements of your system. Using the incorrect fluid can harm seals and cause your system to break down.
Q: Do I need to change the oil and filter?
A: Yes. Oil contaminants can increase operating temperatures and damage components. Change the oil and filter regularly to prolong the life of your system. Refer to your owner’s manual for part numbers and recommended frequency.
Q: How big should the reservoir be?
A: Generally, the size of the reservoir should be 3 times system capacity, or 1.5 times the pump GPM rating. The reservoir must also have adequate surface area to allow heat to disperse.
Q: What size hose do I need?
A: The size of the pipe, tubing, or hose in a hydraulic system is very important. If the hose is too small, the oil flows at a high rate of speed. This generates heat, which means that the fluid is losing power. If the hose is too large, the time and cost of installation may be too high. A 2-wire hose is recommended for applications above 1800 psi. However, specifications vary by manufacturer, so read product packaging for specific application suggestions and psi ratings.


Hydraulic Farm and Ranch Equipment Troubleshooting Guide

Hydraulic system failure can arise from many points within the system. The following guide may help you locate and resolve problems quickly. Always refer to the technical manuals for your system before performing repairs.

Assessing Poor Cylinder Performance in a Hydraulic System

Check for Recommended Action(s)
Oil leaks Check all components for internal or external leaks. Tighten fittings. Repair or replace damaged seals or components. Check relief valve for proper settings.
Low oil, no oil Check reservoir. Add oil as necessary.
Viscous or cold oil Allow ample warm-up period.
Dirty or clogged oil filter Drain oil. Replace filter or filter element.
Restricted oil line Clean or replace dirty or damaged oil lines.
Worn or dirty pump Clean, repair, or replace. Check alignment. Check for contaminated oil. Drain and flush system.
Dirty, damaged, or worn components or seals Clean, repair, or replace components. Check for cause of excessive wear.
Bent ram Check for side pressure on rod or improper mounting of cylinder.
Blown seals Check relief valve settings. Make sure you are using correct hydraulic fluid for system.
Slipping or broken pump drive Repair or replace belts, couplings, etc. Check for proper alignment and tension.
Leaking cylinder Repair/replace seals. Isolate cylinder and check holding capability of control valve.
Excessive load Check unit specifications for load limits.
Air in system Check suction side of system for leaks. Repair. Purge air from system.
Air leaks in pump section line Repair or replace line as necessary.
Low pump drive speed Increase engine speed. Check manual for recommendations.
Improper adjustments Adjust fittings, valves, etc. according to specifications in technical manuals.
Loader slipping or dropping Check for leaking cylinder or air in system.
Improper cylinder for application Check PSI and cylinder travel time. May need cylinder with a larger or smaller bore.
Incorrectly sized or adjusted restrictor Replace or adjust restrictor as necessary.


Hydraulic System Definition of Terms

Accumulator: In a closed system, the accumulator stores the pressurized oil.
Bore: The interior diameter of a cylinder.
Cylinder: The chamber within which a rod and piston move back and forth under the influence of fluid pressure, gravity, or mechanical force.
Detent: A catch or lever that locks the movement of the valve handle and spool in place.
Fitting: A device for creating a seal within a hydraulic system.
GPM: Acronym that stands for "Gallons Per Minute".
Piston: A fitting within a cylinder that moves back and forth with the rod.
Positive Displacement Pump: A pump that displaces an exact amount of fluid per revolution, such as a gear, vane, or piston pump.
PSI: Acronym that stands for "Pounds Per Square Inch".
Ram: A term commonly used to refer to the rod and piston within a cylinder.
Rod: A bar which drives the piston back and forth through the chamber of the cylinder.
Seal: A tight closure that prevents the passage of hydraulic fluid.
Spool: The internal passageways within a hydraulic valve. The standard spool has two ports that are blocked when the system is in neutral.
Stroke: The movement, in either direction, of the piston and rod within a cylinder.
Thread: Ribbing within a pipe or fitting that allows it to create a seal with another pipe or fitting.



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Top Amateur titles awarded at 2016 APHA World Championship Show
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Paints score big bucks in halter at the 2016 APHA World Championship Show
Huge payouts on tap for 2016 Paint World Show Platinum Breeders’ Futurity
2016 EuroPaint Zone Championship celebrates talented exhibitors
APHA introduces Paint Professional Horsemen of the Year award
Consignment deadline extended for 2016 Farnam Breeders’ Trust Select Sale
United States wins 2016 Youth World Games
Platinum Breeders’ Futurity purse expected to double at 2016 World Show
Become an APHA National Director
Cutters win big at inaugural ACHA/APHA Cowtown Cutting
Youth World Show clinic helps riders shine bright for college scouts
Barbara Cox and Stormy Mullins offering free clinics at the Youth World Show
UF online genetics class offers APHA member discount
Polo
Sunset "Sunny" Hale Dies
Dubai Wins USPA Gold Cup® Final 12-11 Over Audi
Goshen Defeats Henley House 11-10 in OT
High-Goal Polo Season Continues with Joe Barry Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach
Products
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Quarter Horse
50-Year Breeders: An AQHA Legacy
AQHA Trail Challenges
Adequan® Select World
New Location for the Zoetis VRH World in 2018
AQHA President Challenges AQHA Members
AQHA Partners Donate to AQHA and the Foundation
Past, Present and Future of the AQHA Incentive Fund
Welcome Your New AQHA Executive Committee The 2017-18 AQHA Executive Committee was elected at the AQHA convention in San Antonio.
Ride With AQHA in Eminence
AQHA to Host Affiliate Workshop
AQHA Incentive Fund Checks Are In The Mail
Reach Out With AQHYA
AQHA Creative Design Team Wins Advertising Awards
AQHA Supports Wildfire Relief Efforts
Mourning the Loss of 3 Million Dollar Sire Lil Ruf Peppy
2017 NRHA Open Futurity Conditions Update
AQHA Expands Partnership With Nutrena
American Quarter Horse Foundation to Host Luncheon
Executive Committee Meeting Update
Come to the AQHA Convention!
Reining
Brady Weaver & SJR Reygun Win 2017 Stallion Stakes Open Championship
2017 NRHA European Derby to be held in Lyon, France
US Equestrian Announces Qualification Information and Selection Procedures for Inaugural FEI World Reining Championships for Juniors and Young Riders
Information and Selection Procedures for Inaugural FEI World Reining Championships for Juniors and Young Riders
NRHA’s 2017 Winter Meeting Concludes
Top National Reining Horse Youth Association members receive high honors through the Varsity Reining Club for their philanthropic, academic and leadership accomplishments.
Fappani steers Spooky Whiz to the 2016 NRHA Open Futurity Championship
Congratulations to Amy Rushing and West Coast Magnum: NAAC Silver Spurs Equine Rookie of the Year Champions
NRHA Open Futurity Second Go, Section Two: Whiz Gata Prize and Flarida hold the lead
NRHA Open Futurity Second go, Section One: Whiz Gata Prize and Flarida Lead
Trevor Dare and Xtra New Pal Voodoo take the lead in the Open Futurity go-round
First Day of Santa’s Workshop was a success at the 2016 NRHA Futurity & Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship!
2016 NRHA Futurity - Day Two
Addis Live Online Auctions: NRHA’s Newest Business Alliance
The 2016 Las Vegas High Roller Reining Classic… Drawing Equine Aces and Top Rated Players
NRHA Presents the $50,000 Silver Spurs Team Challenge
Paints rein in big bucks and buckles at the 2016 Tulsa Reining Classic
McCutcheon Steals Win from Hinton at Adequan $10,000 Added USEF Reining Championships presented by Markel Insurance
Nominations for NRHA Professional of the Year Are Underway! September 13, 2016
AYDE ATKINS WINS 2016 NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL FINALS RODEO REINED COW HORSE CHAMPIONSHIP
Rodeos
Bullfighter Spencer injured in scary wreck
Teel wins Ak-Chin Invitational
Marchi makes sports history in Billings with 600th ride
Mauney wins in Billings
Cave Creek Rodeo Days calendar of events
Mize captures his inaugural Xtreme Bulls Division 1 win in Arizona
CPRA Welcomes New President
Larsen wins second consecutive Champions Challenge
MAUNEY BOUNCES BACK AFTER A TOUGH FEBRUARY
APARECIDO CLAIMS THIRD VICTORY OF 2017 IN JACKSONVILLE
BOLTON TO COMPETE ON DANCING WITH THE STARS
KOLBABA WINS IN LITTLE ROCK
HELLDORADO DAYS RETURNS TO LAS VEGAS VILLAGE MAY 11-14
PBR GLOBAL CUP WILL COME TO EDMONTON
APARECIDO IS THE 2017 IRON COWBOY
Arizona High School Rodeo Casa Grande in March
Grudge Match Wins Kimzey his third Road to Cheyenne tour title
February Rodeo News
News and notes from the rodeo trail
RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo moving venues
Roping
Shazam! Shiozawa captures fourth RNCFR title
Patterson captures fourth steer roping gold buckle
California ropers take Clovis crown
USTRC Regional Finals Schedule
Showgrounds
Upcoming Events at Westworld
Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Completes Footing Renovations at Flintfields Horse Park for 2016 Competitions
National Reined Cow Horse Association Selects New Snaffle Bit Futurity Venue
Horseman's Park, Las Vegas NV
Welcome to South Point Arena & Equestrian Center and Priefert Pavillion
Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano
Del Mar Horse Park
Style
No articles available.
Texas
NEW 2017 TEXAS LONGHORN CELEBRITY CALENDAR
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Announces 2016 Inductees Four Cowgirls to be Honored at the October 27 Induction Luncheon in Fort Worth, Texas
Dr. Andy Schwartz Steps up as Texas State Veterinarian
APHA honored with Texas Historic Marker
Equine Herpes Virus Confirmed in Texas
Trail Riding
National Forest Trail Bill Approved by House Agriculture Committee
USEF Announces Team for the 2016 Longines FEI World Endurance Championships
Horse enthusiasts are encouraged to volunteer their time to preserve trails and apply for trail conservation funding by August 1
2016 Time to Ride Challenge open for registration
Sun Circle Trail Riders 50th Anniversary
AQHA - Ride With Us This Summer
Western
No articles available.
Who's Who!
Truck Talk with Nate Brekken It’s time for a brake check everyone!
EL CABALLO REY - Equestrian Art Academy by Cynthia Lippon
Home Spun by Jim Olson Bringing Yourself with You
The Interview - with Al Dunning
Is that Toto, SPFFF, and keep Flexin them Muscles Boys By Justin Legler
NFR cowboy Tater Decker passes away
Johnson Juggles Barrel Racing with Business
Dr. Jim Heird Joins NCEA National Advisory Board
Johnny Trotter Receives Award
UC Davis Ushers in New Era
AAHA Names 2017 Practice of the Year
Penn Vet Receives $5 Million for Equine Medicine Professorship
Avoiding Feed-time Frenzy By Julie Goodnight
Shillin' Out with Warwick Schiller
COUNTRY MUSIC SUPERSTAR ZAC BROWN WRAPS UP RODEOHOUSTON AND PURCHASES THE JUNIOR MARKET RESERVE CHAMPION STEER
New Zealand Showjumper crowned RTTH World Champion
Hadley Barrett Passes Away at the Age of 87
Sunny Hale — female polo pioneer, dies
Cowboy… Hard Boiled Eggs… Veterans and Kids First… By Justin Legler
Al Dunning Receives Western Horseman Award for His Contributions to the Western Industry From Western Horseman Magazine
Cowhorse-Cutting
Western Bloodstock, Ltd., to manage 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Sales
Cow Horses on the Big Screen! San Luis Obispo International Film Festival 2017 Early Acceptance
2016 Snaffle Bit Futurity Sales
Four facilities apply to host the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity
SJR DIAMOND REY AND COREY CUSHING WIN 2016 NRCHA STALLION STAKES OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
14 NRCHA shows make 2016 APHA World Show qualifying a snap
News from the 2016 National Reined Cow Horse Association Celebration of Champions
Sherri Gilkerson Memorial April 29, 30, & May 1, 2016 has moved to Horseshoe Park, Queen Creek AZ
World
Avian Influenza Affects Poultry, People Around the Globe
FEI Tribunal issues Final Decision on two banned substance cases
700,000-Year-Old Horse Found in Yukon Permafrost Yields Oldest DNA Ever Decoded
The United States Equestrian Federation Agrees to Grant Farmer/Glefke Rehearing Request
FEI and Global Champions League reach agreement
FEI announces Candidate Cities for FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2022
New prohibited substance case under FEI Anti-Doping Rules
FEI World Cup™ Vaulting: Cavallaro, Heppler, Stopazzini and Lupacchini take titles in Salzburg
USEF Votes to Support Olympic Format Changes at FEI General Assembly
FEI General Assembly votes in favour of Olympic and Paralympic rule changes
New prohibited substance case under FEI Anti-Doping Rules
China Horse Club buys into California Chrome
Germany’s Sabrina Arnold wins FEI World Endurance Championship for Young Horses
Touchdown! First Olympic horses arrive in Rio de Janeiro!
Equestrian at the 2016 Summer Olympics
FEI announces banned substance positive
Around the World With Sandy Arledge
FEI Classics™: Michael Jung makes history at Kentucky by Kate Green
FEI celebrated in Creative Sports Awards
It is a filly! In the Lipizzaner Stud Farm of Piber, the first foal of 2016 saw the light of day.
No articles available.