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Troubleshooting Hydraulic Systems - Don’t Take the Wrong Turn ben lee

We recently helped out one of our clients with a hydraulic issue he was having. He wrote to us and stated that he had a hydraulic system that was running perfectly fine when it was running on a horizontal level. But as soon as it was running at any measure of vertical angle, everything went to pot. It would jerk and become very noisy in operation. He told us that he suspected it could be to do with the pump, and that it would be such a pain if it was as that was a particularly hard pump to reach and to dismantle.

Think for a moment on his challenge. Using the information that you have, what do you think the issue could be?

Just as with every troubleshooting challenge, there is some information that has been provided to run off. Some of it will clearly be fact, and some of it could be categorised as opinion. Some may even be considered fiction. How you use this information and process it will result in the next turn that you next take. Whether you have taken the correct turn to start with will depend on what you made of the information that you were provided with. To get an accurate diagnosis rapidly, this is very important. 

So let’s work through a process of troubleshooting. What can we ascertain from the information that we have? After considering the information that we have, it looks like it isn’t a typical hydraulic issue, and that we should try to find the probable reasons for its behaviour to make troubleshooting easier.  There aren’t a lot to choose from.

I write to the customer asking him to check the mechanical parts of the machine, after all these are easier to reach than digging into the machine to get to the pump.  The guy writes back after a day or so and tells me that the drive chain was at fault and it had been worn down considerably. On the horizontal level, it would still operate, but when it was at an angle the worn nubbins would let go of the chain and it was this that was causing the jerking.

This is why it’s important to not take any false turns with troubleshooting. After all, he could have started working on getting the pump out – only to discover his worn chain later on down. As it was, he saved himself a costly and time consuming wrong turn.

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