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Repacking a Hydraulic Cylinder [A Step-by-Step Guide]

There are multiple types of hydraulic cylinders but the process for checking and repacking them is generally the same. There are a few telltale signs that your hydraulic cylinder needs to be repacked:

  • Difficulty lifting a load or moving a component (not moving as fast as its supposed to)
  • Implements leaking down faster than normal
  • Cylinder is leaking oil externally – they can leak and still have power

How to Test a Cylinder 

Step 1: Fill both sides of cylinder with hydraulic fluid.

Step 2: Move the cylinder through its full stroke several times to push all of the air out if needed.

Step 3:  Pressurize cylinder fully extended and check for any leakage

Step 4:  Retract cylinder and hold, check for any leakage

Step 5: Internal bypass test-  Begin to retract cylinder and hold with base port line removed and capped, Depending upon type of seal determines acceptable leakage, however generally you will see the cylinder rod actually extend as fluid fills the chamber if the fluid is bypassing the piston seals .

PREPARATION

Hydraulics are an important and expensive part of construction and farming equipment. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while working on the cylinders to prevent costly damage:

  • Make sure your rod is straight
  • Make sure that the inside of the barrel surfaces are showing the proper cross hatching
  • Make sure that there are no scars or gouging
  • Make sure that the chrome plating on the rod is not damaged and if there is a slight nick make sure that there are no raised burrs

GETTING STARTED

Before you repack you will need to clean off the unit, disconnect any hoses and plug all ports before disconnecting the hydraulic cylinder. Once it has been disconnected you will need to open the ports and drain the hydraulic fluid found in the cylinder.

Have your tools ready. You will need a seal kit, rubber mallet, screw driver, punch, pliers, spanner wrench, allen wrenches, emery cloth, and a torque wrench.

STEPS TO REPAIR YOUR CYLINDER

  1. Release all pressure and remove cylinder from machine.
  2. Clean off dirt that has built up on the cylinder head and end cap
  3. Remove the rod assembly as described in the next step depending upon application.
  4. Take off the external steel wire ring or unscrew the end cap (This may require removal of an allen bolt)
  5. Get your rubber mallet and punch on cylinders with snap rings. Use them to push the head into the cylinder tube until the internal tube groove is completely exposed. This will get the snap ring into position so you can remove it.
  6. Pull the piston rod from the cylinder.
  7. Remove lock nut.
  8. Remove piston.
  9. Check for burrs of gouges on the cylinder rod, piston and bore. If needed remove burrs with emery cloth.
  10. Be sure cylinder rod is straight
  11. Install new seals and replace components as needed. 
    Repack Hydraulic Cylinder
  12. Install cap and seals followed by the piston and seals. Torque lock nut to spec. Repacking a Hydraulic Cylinder
  13. Clamp cylinder body in vise gently.
  14. Lube barrel and all seals to begin assembly.
  15. Insert piston, gland and rod assembly into the cylinder bore.
  16. Tighten cylinder end cap and torque screw or install ring depending upon application.

Hydraulic Systems Training & Support

As part of Diesel Laptops' continued commitment to off-highway diagnostics training, we are excited to add our 2 Part Hydraulics Class.

In the Construction, Agricultural, Industrial, Mining, Vocational industries all use Hydraulic systems.  Learning the basics of these systems can help reduce major equipment failures and loss of revenue due to downed equipment.

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Angaeli Lall-Butcher

Angaeli covers all things Off-Highway as a part of the marketing team at Diesel Laptops, from construction and agriculture machinery to heavy equipment diagnostics.

My role has brought me to The National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green OH, had me trekking through farms in Gilbert, SC and even sent me to a construction theme park in NJ. I spread the word about new ways that Diesel Laptops serves the Off-Highway community, and work with diesel techs to help them discover heavy equipment repair options.

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