How to Disassemble Hydraulic Cylinders: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Disassemble Hydraulic Cylinders: A Comprehensive Guide


Hydraulic cylinders are essential components in various hydraulic systems, enabling powerful and efficient linear motion for a range of applications. From construction equipment to industrial machinery, these cylinders play a crucial role in converting hydraulic fluid pressure into mechanical force. 

However, like any mechanical device, hydraulic cylinders need periodic maintenance, repair, or replacement of worn parts so they can continue to operate as they should. In this comprehensive guide, our team at Cylinders, Inc. will walk you through the process of disassembling hydraulic cylinders, focusing on the two most common types: threaded head cylinders and wire ring cylinders.

Reasons for Disassembling a Hydraulic Cylinder

There are several reasons why you may need to disassemble your hydraulic cylinder, including:

  1. Leaking hydraulic oil from the cylinder
  2. Bent or stuck piston rod
  3. Damaged cylinder housing
  4. Broken piston rod
  5. Worn or damaged piston seals
  6. Regular maintenance and inspection

Preparing for Hydraulic Cylinder Disassembly

Preparing for Hydraulic Cylinder Disassembly

Before starting the disassembly process, make sure to take the necessary preparatory steps to ensure a safe and efficient procedure:

  1. Proper shutdown: Make sure that the machine or equipment is properly shut down and that appropriate lockout/tagout protocols are in place to prevent accidental startup.
  2. Cleaning: Clean the external surface of the hydraulic cylinder, removing any dirt, grease, or hydraulic fluid. This will help prevent contamination of the internal components during disassembly.
  3. Disconnecting hydraulic lines: Disconnect the hydraulic hoses from the cylinder ports and plug them to prevent debris from entering the system.
  4. Removing the cylinder: Detach the cylinder from the machine or equipment by removing the clevis pins from the cylinder mounts. If possible, remove the entire cylinder for easier disassembly.
  5. Securing the cylinder: Secure the hydraulic cylinder in a floor vice or bench vice, depending on its size and type, to ensure stability during the disassembly process.

Disassembling a Threaded Head Cylinder

Threaded head cylinders feature a removable end cap secured by a set screw or a gland that unscrews using a spanner wrench. 

To disassemble this type of hydraulic cylinder, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the set screw: Locate and remove the set screw on the end cap, if present. Set it aside in a safe place to avoid losing it.
  2. Unscrew the gland: If the cylinder has a gland that unscrews, use a conventional or C spanner wrench to loosen and remove it.
  3. Extract the rod assembly: Carefully pull on the piston rod to remove the entire rod assembly, including the gland assembly and piston, from the cylinder housing.
  4. Detach the piston: If needed, remove the piston from the rod assembly by loosening the piston nut at the rod end.
  5. Remove the gland assembly: Slide the gland assembly or end cap off the piston rod.
  6. Replace seals: Remove the old seals from the gland assembly and replace them with new ones.
  7. Inspect components: Examine the cylinder bore for scoring, distortion, or rust damage. Check the piston rod for scoring, bending, or other damage. If necessary, the bore can be rehoned or the rod can be replaced.
  8. Reassemble the cylinder: To reassemble the threaded head cylinder, follow the disassembly steps in reverse order to make sure that all components are clean and lubricated with fresh hydraulic oil.

Disassembling a Wire Ring Cylinder

Disassembling a Wire Ring Cylinder

Wire ring cylinders use a snap ring or wire ring to secure the gland assembly in place. The disassembly process for this type of hydraulic cylinder is slightly more complicated. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Remove the end cap: Use a pipe wrench to remove the end cap, if present, exposing the top of the gland.
  2. Extend the rod: Ensure that the piston rod is extended from the cylinder housing.
  3. Remove the wire ring: Turn the gland within the bore to eject the wire ring through the hole on the side of the cylinder head. The angle of the hole should indicate the direction in which the gland needs to turn.
  4. Extract the rod assembly: Once the wire ring is fully ejected, pull out the piston rod, along with the piston and gland assembly.
  5. Check for O-rings: Inspect the area of the bore where the gland was located for any O-rings. If present, remove them to be replaced.
  6. Disassemble the rod assembly: Follow the same steps as for the threaded head cylinder to remove the piston from the rod and replace the seals.
  7. Remove the plastic ring: Don't forget to remove the plastic ring from the internal groove on the piston rod.
  8. Reassemble the cylinder: To reassemble the wire ring cylinder, follow the disassembly steps in reverse order so that all components are clean and lubricated with fresh hydraulic oil.

Inspecting Components During Disassembly

As you disassemble the hydraulic cylinder, take the time to carefully inspect all components for signs of wear or damage:

  1. Seals and O-rings: Check for unusual wear, deformation, or damage.
  2. Piston nut: Inspect the piston nut for damage and replace the lock nut if necessary.
  3. Metal rings: Verify that metal rings aren’t bent or broken.
  4. Piston rod: Examine the piston rod for pitting, scoring, or bending.
  5. Cylinder housing: Look inside the cylinder housing for scoring, pitting, or scratches. Minor damage can be addressed by rehoning, but severe damage may require replacing the cylinder housing.

Identifying the Root Cause of Cylinder Failure

Identifying the Root Cause of Cylinder Failure

When disassembling a hydraulic cylinder due to a failure, be sure to identify the root cause of the problem. Simply repairing the damage without addressing the underlying issue may lead to recurring failures, an incredibly frustrating scenario. Always take the time to analyze the components and the system as a whole to determine what led to the cylinder failure and take appropriate steps to prevent future issues from happening again.

Seeking Professional Assistance?

Disassembling and rebuilding hydraulic cylinders, while rewarding, can present significant challenges, particularly for complex units or those requiring specialized repairs. If you find yourself needing expert advice or professional services, Cylinders, Inc. is here to help. With years of experience in hydraulic and pneumatic cylinder repair, our certified women-owned business has the expertise and equipment necessary to ensure your cylinders are in peak condition.

Whether you're dealing with a stubborn snap ring, or a damaged piston rod, or need a comprehensive overhaul of your hydraulic system, our team is ready to assist. We pride ourselves on delivering quality repairs, efficient service, and unparalleled customer support. Don't let cylinder issues slow down your operations — let the experts at Cylinders, Inc. take care of your maintenance needs.

For inquiries, estimates, or to schedule a service, please contact us. We're here to ensure your equipment runs smoothly and efficiently, with minimal downtime. Trust Cylinders, Inc. for all your hydraulic and pneumatic cylinder repair needs.

Cylinders inc. team



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Take Control of Hydraulic Cylinder Disassembly!

Take Control of Hydraulic Cylinder Disassembly!

Unlock the secrets of hydraulic cylinder disassembly with our comprehensive guide. Contact us now to speak with our experts!

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