Insane Hydraulics

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How Making Diagrams Can Help You Learn Hydraulics

Regular readers know how much I like to talk about the importance of self-education for those who want to succeed in hydraulics. I am convinced that self-education is the cornerstone of any success for that matter. In this post, I want to present another trick to boost your learning.

When you make your "baby steps" in hydraulics, one of the first things you learn is hydraulic symbols and the way they are combined in hydraulic diagrams. Now, knowing how to read and interpret hydraulic schematics is great, but making your own diagrams whenever you work on a hydraulic system or learn a new concept is, by far, the best thing you can do to learn much more effectively! Let me explain with an example:

Imagine that you are learning about, say, the closed center load sensing pump control. You talk to an experienced engineer and he gives you a nice explanation of how this circuit works and where it is used. Or, maybe, you read about it in a book or a catalog. As long as the explanation makes sense to you, you already have the knowledge in your head, so all you've got to do now is hammer it down so that it stays for good in the active database of your attic. And how do you do that? You give some time for the information to settle down, a few hours, a day, maybe, and then you sit down, take out a pen and a sheet of paper, and make a diagram of the circuit that you just learned.

Two things happen here - you practice your schematic-building skills, and you stuff the active memory of your brain with the so-important load-sensing principles. Creating something and watching someone create something are completely different things! Drawing schematics is a very productive way to learn hydraulics because it allows you to memorize new concepts faster and better.

Whenever you come across something new, like a pump control, or a special valve - look it up in a catalog, and then make it a habit of yours to always draw its schematic from memory sometime later, as if you were explaining its function to somebody else. You'll be surprised how much more information you'll be able to retain if you do this!

Productive troubleshooting of any system depends on understanding its operation and knowledge of the components. This simple trick will increase your hydraulic concept and component knowledge tenfold, and allow you to pull schematics out of your head on the spot, thus further boosting up your professional value.