By Todd Lewis
Hydraulic cylinders are costly to replace. At Cylinders, Inc., we always opt for repair and only suggest replacement as a last resort. Naturally, regular hydraulic cylinder maintenance and repacking hydraulic cylinders prolong a cylinder's lifespan.
Knowing how to repack hydraulic cylinders is an uncomplicated process and easy process to learn. In this guide, we explain exactly how to do it, so you can take better care of your equipment.
Repacking hydraulic cylinders is part of regular preventative maintenance, as most eventually begin to leak oil from their seals. When you repack a cylinder, you ensure it keeps working in optimal condition. It's also more eco-friendly than purchasing a new one.
As a side note: When cylinders start to leak, it is more cost-effective to repair components than replace the entire thing. The process of repacking a cylinder is relatively straightforward with the right tools:
Typical signs your cylinder requires repacking include; increased oil leaks, increased levels of difficulty in moving a part of lifting heavy loads, and implements leaking down at a faster rate than usual. But, before repacking a hydraulic cylinder, we advise testing it first.
You will need these tools to successfully repack a cylinder:
You'll want to ensure the old parts are the same shape, size, and type as the new ones. If your cylinders are used in equipment that raises and lowers heavyweight, then brace the support weight with jacks or blocks to prevent accidental injury to you and costly damage to the equipment.
Clean off the unit, detach hoses, and plug all ports before disconnecting the hydraulic cylinder, after which you will need to open all ports and drain all fluid.
During preparation to repack a cylinder, make sure that:
Here's how to repack a hydraulic cylinder in eight simple steps:
Note: When repacking a hydraulic cylinder, there are different ways to hold the rod to the piston. A threaded rod can either have the piston directly attached, or with just a nut, or a nut and bolt can hold the piston in place.
You also might want to take photographs of each step of the process to ensure all the parts are in order.
Hydraulic cylinders are important components of heavy machinery and equipment and can’t be ignored. Here are five more tips for repacking and rebuilding hydraulic cylinders.
Before repacking or rebuilding your cylinder, it's important to inspect it properly after disassembly. This will help you identify any parts that need to be replaced or repaired before proceeding with the rebuilding process. Any visual defects found during the inspection require prompt attention. You don’t want to reassemble the cylinder and then discover a problem that you could have fixed prior. Replace any damaged parts before rebuilding the cylinder. By inspecting your cylinder very thoroughly after disassembling it, you can save yourself from a lot of headaches in the future, not to mention a lot of time and money.
The hydraulic cylinder rebuilding process requires specialized tools, so it's important to ensure that you have all the tools required before starting the process. Missing an essential tool can cause a delay and put a halt on your project. Some of the typical tools required include the seal installation tool, hydraulic cylinder rod scraper, pick and spring puller, and hydraulic cylinder action tester. Verify that all the tools are present and that they are in good condition. If any tool is not working properly or needs cleaning, you should address that before getting started. Otherwise, you may damage something.
If you're repacking the cylinder, it's important to resize the seals to a precise fit. The diameter and cross-sectional shape of the seal are critical, as they directly affect the cylinder's performance. The piston's diameter determines the size of the seal, so it's important to choose the right size. Resizing seals is a task that requires a high degree of accuracy, so it's best to seek help from a professional if you're not sure how to go about it. If your seals are improperly fitting, you may end up with excess oil and fluid build-up, which can damage the piston rod bearings and possibly corrode the entire hydraulic cylinder.
After rebuilding or repacking the cylinder, it's important to perform a cylinder action test to ensure that it's performing optimally. This is essential because it determines the cylinder's performance and safety. If you detect any problems, you can make the necessary repairs before placing the cylinder back into service. A cylinder action tester will simulate the cylinder's operation and deliver real-time performance data. An easy DIY test is the end-of-stroke bypass test. All you need to do is pressurize the cylinder with oil and inspect for any oil leakage near the seal at the bottom of the cylinder’s stroke.
Not everyone has the expertise to rebuild hydraulic cylinders, especially if you lack the proper tools or knowledge. If you're unsure of what to do or how to proceed, consider seeking the services of a professional that handles hydraulic cylinder repairs. Professionals have the expertise, tools, and experience to identify problems, repair or replace faulty parts, resize and repack the cylinder, and ensure the cylinder's safe operation. By going to a professional, you will save time and money and avoid a lot of stress, and it's best to trust the expertise of someone who knows what they’re doing.
If you still feel unsure of the process or would prefer to hand over your cylinder to professionals, then reach out to us at Cylinders, Inc. We conduct comprehensive cylinder audits to see if they need repacking or more serious repairs. Our professionals and fully equipped shop at Cylinders, Inc are adept at handling repairs of all shapes, sizes, and brands. We promise to repack your cylinder and get it operating like new!
Have a question about our pneumatic cylinder repairs?
Contact Cylinders, Inc. to find out more, or schedule your repair service today!