A Guide to Hydraulic Cylinders for Heavy Equipment

Acting as the ‘muscles’ of your machinery, hydraulic systems are crucial for some of your heavy-duty equipment’s most basic and advanced functions. Much like our guide on hydraulic pumps, this article goes over some of the most important things to know about your hydraulic cylinders. This includes discussing how they work, the different types of hydraulic cylinders most commonly used, and why they are so important and some basic maintenance tips.

How Hydraulic Cylinders Work

Hydraulic cylinders are based on Pascal’s law, which states that force is equal to pressure multiplied by area. Pascal also observed that pressure within fluids is exerted equally in all directions. Within a typical hydraulic system that you would find on heavy equipment, the ‘pressure’ is generated by the hydraulic pumps which multiply the pressure generated by pressurised fluids, most often a mineral oil. The ‘area’ would be the size of the hydraulic pistons.

The pistons and pumps inform the amount of force that can be produced by the hydraulic cylinder and determine the amount of weight that it can push or lift, allowing even small hydraulic cylinders to exert tremendous force.

Types of Hydraulic Cylinders

Single acting cylinders

In single acting cylinders, the hydraulic fluid only acts on one side of the piston, allowing the cylinder to only operate in one direction. Some examples of a single acting cylinder include spring-extended and spring-return cylinders. Spring-return are the most used in material handling applications, whereas spring-extended are used to hold workpieces for extended periods of time.

Double acting cylinders

Unlike single acting cylinders, the hydraulic fluid in double acting cylinders is contained on both ends of the piston rod, allowing it to move in both directions through operation. A majority of equipment that raises and lowers materials used these types of cylinders.

Telescopic cylinders

Telescopic cylinders include a cylinder within a cylinder to significantly increase the amount that can be lifted in a single motion. They are common for heavy equipment including tipping trucks, and are available in both single acting and double acting variants depending on the application.

Some other common types of hydraulic cylinders include tie-rod or welded rod cylinders, and jack cylinders.

Why Hydraulic Cylinders are Important for Heavy-Duty Equipment

Heavy duty equipment is regularly required to lift, carry, and move heavy loads, and hydraulic systems and cylinders are often the most well-suited. Compared to electrical systems with a similar function, a smaller hydraulic cylinder can generate levels of force that can only be achieved with much larger electrical motors, making them the more functional and economical option. This is why they are so commonly used within a range of industries, including manufacturing, construction, and mining.

How to Maintain Hydraulic Cylinders

You should be regularly checking the oil in your hydraulic cylinders is clean. Most issues with hydraulic cylinders are caused by contaminated oil. Keep to recommended preventative maintenance plans and use scheduled oil sampling if possible.

You should also be routinely checking and cleaning the cylinder itself, including its individual components such as the rod, piston, valves and hoses. If you cannot find the downtime between uses to inspect your cylinders, it is a good idea to own more than one cylinder that you can alternate between. This lets your machines carry on operating as you maintain one cylinder, and helps them last longer.

Lastly, when cylinders are not in use, be sure to store them in dry and clean areas, preferably indoors. Ensure exposed metal is covered and protected to avoid it getting dirty or damaged whilst in storage.

If you find yourself in need of replacement or extra hydraulic cylinders or parts including cartridges, pistons, hoses, and more, Jaytrac stock quality parts for Caterpillar and Komatsu machines. Get in touch today via our enquiry form or send us an email at sales@jaytrac.co.uk or phone us at 01604 491 133 today.

A Guide to Hydraulic Cylinders for Heavy Equipment image Send Us An Enquiry

We supply the following parts for this range: