Insane Hydraulics

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Oil Hydraulics and Oil Baths

Despite the fact that I love oil hydraulics and all of its challenges, I admit that it does have minor drawbacks, like, for example, a hundred percent chance of getting an "oil bath" if you work in this field for a long enough time.

No matter how careful you are, sooner or later you will get acquainted with hydraulic oil "face-to-face". I am yet to find a hydraulic technician who doesn't have an "oil shower" story to tell, and if you are pondering an oil hydraulics related career, you should be well aware of this inevitable bonus you'll have to deal with from time to time.

Most of the "wet punishments" will be your own fault, and since an oil bath (especially when the oil is hot) is a powerful negative incentive, you'll soon develop a series of reflexes that will prevent you from these mishaps in the future. But neither experience nor preparation will ever protect you from oil spills caused by other "artists"...

My first ever major oil spill happened during my first "greenhorn" year. I was asked to fill up an about to be tested 600 liter power-pack, so I installed a faucet onto an oil drum, tipped it over the forklift, aligned it with the fill cap, opened the valve and went to take care of other businesses as the oil drum would take around half an our to empty and surely it wouldn't be enough to overfill the tank. When I came back half an hour later, I noticed that the oil tank was missing a drain plug... At least I got to see what 50 gallons of hydraulic oil on a shop floor look like!

Last summer I was assisting a start-up of a 50 gpm power-pack. It had already worked for about thirty minutes, and I was making final adjustments when the 35mm elbow sprang from the return line spraying everything around with Hidrolep 46. The resulting fountain was also hitting the ceiling, contributing to even oil distribution, and setting the "audience" into a speed-of-light flee-mode. The shut down switch was 5 meters away, and by the time I got there the "audience" had already disappeared over the horizon. I took these amusing pictures with my cell-phone, the image is foggy because of the oil-film on the lens, my vision got foggy for a couple of hours too. It rained oil from the ceiling for the whole week. The last picture shows exactly why it happened - the pipe had been painted first and the cutting ring was installed over the paint. There was nothing I could do to prevent this from happening, but it still brings a smile to my face whenever I remember the getaway scene.

Now don't think that if you don't work directly in the workshop you'll dodge the oily doom. Even if you belong to a sales or engineering department, at some point you'll have to be around hydraulics equipment, and at some point the destiny will strike. A couple of months ago a friend of mine, who is a salesman, and NEVER enters a workshop, entered the workshop for ten seconds just to ask something. At that particular moment I was testing a closed loop pump, and when the pressure hit 400 bar the SAE Flange seal failed (turned out to be inadequate seal quality) spraying the poor guy from the waist down. A pair of fashion white slacks into garbage and a lesson learned - there's no escape from fate...

So, if you work with oil hydraulics, and haven't yet been in an "oily" situation, be prepared - an oil shower is coming your way!..