Insane Hydraulics

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The Simple Test

The following test will require a little bit of imagination. But before all - a notice: If you can not at least imagine yourself in a workshop environment, this site is not for you, period. Sorry, but hands-on and basic (hydraulic) shop background is kind of essential here...

Now imagine: you work in a hydraulic workshop and you proudly call yourself a “technician”. Of course, being a highly trained "relief valve certified" professional you cope with lots of different tasks on a daily basis, one of them being hydraulic pump repair, which, naturally, involves you disassembling the pump to evaluate its condition and then putting it back together with whatever new parts the foreman deemed necessary. Then one beautiful day an axial-piston pump of some crazy brand you have never seen before is brought to your workshop for YOU to strip down and repair. It's a 100 kilogram steel scary-looking dirt-covered contraption with a shaft at one end and some hydraulic connections and hoses all around it, dripping oil all over the workshop, and when you put it on a pallet it cracks the pallet and leaves an amber oil puddle on the floor.

Which of the following scenarios would be the least inaccurate in describing your further actions?:

1. You rush to lift the pump and almost manage to muscle it over your work-bench, get a severe back injury and two months of intensive physiotherapy. You quit the job afterwards.

2. You try to lift the pump with a forklift and a loading belt, the belt slips off and the pump falls down and bends the shaft end (alternatively - cracks the casing, or in the very least deforms a couple of fittings "beyond recognition"). If your supervisor didn't see it, you tell him that it had already been this way, then proceed to Nº3. If he saw it, you tell him the forklift sucks and must be replaced. Your supervisor's hair is probably grey.

3. You look at the pump from one side and scratch your mug, then you look at it from another side and scratch your ass. You spend half an hour walking around it, looking at it from all possible angles, mumbling something like “them sons of bitches, would bring anything here these days, they would...”. Then you spend another hour or so following your "pre-disassembly ritual" marking everything you can with white paint (red paint, yellow paint, permanent industrial marker, etc...), making the pump look like some Indian chief preparing for war. And finally you spend the rest of the day disassembling it. You don't disassemble the pump's control as “it's something not to tamper with”. In the end you call your shop supervisor to evaluate the pumps condition, and when he asks you if it is a closed loop pump you look at him and confirm that this is indeed a pump and not a motor (you are pretty sure of it as you overheard the client say so), he sighs and doesn't ask you any more questions. His hair is most definitely grey.

4. You have the pump stripped down within the hour. Most of the parts are there, maybe a spring or two are missing, but they were small and insignificant, so you feel pretty pleased with yourself as you are way faster then the guy from Nº3. You don't disassemble the pump's control as “it's something not to tamper with and has never been done before”. The rag that client had shoved into the suction line "for transportation purposes" is still there. In the end you call your shop supervisor to evaluate the pump's condition, and when he asks you what is wrong with the pump you tell him that you don't know and it's not your job to know such stuff (your job is to turn them bolts and nuts and what not, right?), although you are pretty sure that some malfunction did occur. He sighs and doesn't ask you any more questions. A week later the cleaning lady finds the spring under your bench and gives it to you. You put it in that special drawer of your bench. You have been considering to ask your boss for a bigger drawer as this one is getting full. Your supervisor's hair is grey.

5. Out of curiosity you pull out the rag shoved into the suction line - the amber puddle on the floor suddenly becomes bigger. You think: “what a f***ing big suction line that is” which also means that you fully understand it's an open loop pump. After that you notice the pumps brand and model. You partially disassemble the control and are curious to know how it works, you also notice that there's a stuck spool in it. When you ask your supervisor about it, he says you shouldn't have tampered with such a delicate thing and looks at you as if you had betrayed all that's saint to him. You sigh. The complete rotary group is replaced. As you feel sorry for the client you get the spool unstuck, though you don't understand what it is there for. If your hair isn't grey yet, it's going to get grey pretty soon. When you get home you take your notes with you and look for information about the pump online.

6. You have enough experience to evaluate the pump's condition and your opinion most of the times coincides with that of your supervisor's. However you would question some of the opinions you hear, as they sometimes don't make sense to you. Both you and the foreman find the stuck spool. He tells you it's some kind of crazy Japanese control. You are pretty sure its something else (let him save the face and listen politely). Both of you agree that the stuck spool is the problem that had brought this pump to the shop. The pump still gets a new rotary group as commission's commission and the client has deep pockets. The foreman's hair is still Grey because of the Nº3 and Nº4.

7. You don't work at any shop but own hydraulics machinery. After having read the above you start to doubt if the recent 5k eur excavator pump overhaul was really so necessary...

If you chose:

1. This site is absolutely not for you. Consider getting a good medical insurance though...

2. Someday you might hurt yourself or others. Use a crash helmet at all times. The rest is the same as No3.

3. Your case is very severe, but there's hope. You lack basics. Try reading one article, if it's all Greek to you then learn basics first, get some shop experience and invest in self-education. Don't waste your time here otherwise.

4. "Fast and Furious" is your favorite movie. Congratulations! The rest is the same as No3.

5. Typical case of "mentally challenged" boss vs smart employee. You probably do lots of overtime. Read and learn, man, the world will be ours!!!

6. Typical case of smart but constantly busy boss vs smart employee. Leave the bossing for the boss and the technical part for yourself, at least for now. Definitely will find something interesting here. If you're smart enough you'll eventually become your own boss.

7. Yeah, about that overhaul... It probably was necessary, but most likely it could have cost less... But if you have read so far, you are curious to the point that you might actually find something interesting here and eventually learn how to save a buck or two in the future.

Now, joking aside, the anecdote above serves two purposes:
a) it gives you an idea of what to expect from this blog's "less formal" writing style and
b) it underlines the fact that you must have basic industrial hydraulics knowledge and experience to be able to fully appreciate the articles.

If you still can not relate to hydraulic workshop environment, but have read so far, you are either a studying theoretician who is digging for information on oil hydraulics, which leaves you a remote but real chance to find something useful here, or you are not reading this right now.