By Dez Duran-Lamanilao
From misuse to old age to lack of proper maintenance, a lot of factors can cause hydraulic cylinder failure and in worse cases, may eventually result to ship breakdown. Depending on the gravity of the situation, boat owners will have to decide whether to repair the cylinder or remanufacture it, if the repair costs will turn out to be more expensive than replacing it altogether.
Image source: Ship Technology
The most common issues related to hydraulic cylinder failure include seal leakage, scored piston rod or cylinder bore, corrosion, rough surface of rods, which can cause cylinder breakdown when pressure is applied, and bent piston rod, which happens when there is a cylinder overload or rod seal failure. If the cylinder is affecting the machine’s overall performance, this means that there is a need to seek expert opinion on the matter.
Cylinder Repair Costs
The costs to repair a hydraulic cylinder will include labor rates, material costs and customization services. Add to that the cylinder model you need and other support services that might come with the whole repair. Usually rebuilding a cylinder will cost you about half of list price of a new cylinder. The costs may range between as low as less than $100 if it turns out to be a problem with just the O-rings, for example, and $500 and up if the problem turns out to be much more complicated.
Ways to Prevent Cylinder Malfunction
Preventive maintenance is always your best bet if you want to avoid the hassles and additional costs of repairing and rebuilding a hydraulic cylinder. A few tips from Hydraulics & Pneumatics might go a long way:
- Ensure that your rod diameter is sufficient for the existing application or the cylinder is properly mounted to prevent the rods from bending.
- Check if the surface roughness of the cylinder rod is just right – not too low and not too high.
- Employ the right wall thickness (and/or material strength) to the cylinder’s operating pressure. Otherwise, you risk having ballooned tubes, which increases the possibility of the fluid bypassing the seal, causing a lot of problems in the end.
Probably the ideal solution to avoiding possible hydraulic cylinder failures is designing and building a cylinder that meets the exact purpose for your machinery and industry. You just need to find that exact and perfect fit.