During the day I get bombarded with countless questions from my colleagues and clients. How does something work? Which type is this pump's controller? What is the maximum pressure that pump can support? Where is the adjustment screw and which one is the pilot port on this motor? Etc, etc, etc... As a rule, I eagerly explain everything, at least when I know the answer, and everybody is happy. But you would be surprised how many times I get asked the same questions by the same people!
Of course, forgetting stuff is very human, I know this... But I also know that in our case - with them pumps and motors and all - there is one good way to fight this "amnesia". How? - With manufacturers' catalogues! Allow me to elaborate:
Memorizing processes are highly subconscious. When you are served information "on the plate" - you've put no effort into obtaining it - therefore subconsciously you undervalue it. The brain is an extremely efficient machine and it simply will not waste its memory capacity on easily obtainable information. That is why, whenever you need information and urgency is not an issue, you should LOOK IT UP instead of asking. It's the best way to assure that it will "stay in"!
In hydraulic shops most of the doubts are component related. In other words - when you want to overhaul (test, repair, adjust, disassemble) something you are not familiar with - it is normal to wonder what the hell it is. The easiest way to find out would be to fetch someone with more experience and ask. The right way, however, would be to determine the brand and model reference of the component "in question", and then look it up in the respective catalogue. If the catalogue isn't available, then the rightest way to proceed would be reverse engineering, of course.
Nowadays, all hydraulic companies are stuffed with technical literature. Fact is, those catalogues and technical brochures, both new and outdated, are the best didactic materials you will ever find, as most of them contain detailed description of components and very often explain the way they function, along with technical specifications and tons of other useful information.
I often spend hours looking through random catalogues I pull from the shelf or dig online, and believe me, I always learn something new. I made it a habit of mine to look technical literature up every time I deal with something new, and it proved useful countless number of times! This extended knowledge of components is of crucial importance for every hydraulic tech.
Another good thing about catalogues is the fact that they allow you to learn and compare designs, used by different manufacturer for the same function. This is an extremely helpful background when you back-engineer stuff.
The opinion that technical literature is for engineers only is plain wrong. Even when you look up familiar components you've worked with a thousand times before, you can still find something new that'll make you think: "Hell! I wouldn't have learned this otherwise!..."
Knowledge is never too much and catalogues provide tons of quality information in an accurate and compact manner. From the practical point of view, such knowledge drastically increases your professional value.
Unfortunately this TRUE value of catalogues is still underrated by many mechanics.