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A Guide to Hydraulic Cylinders!

 Where you’ll find large scale, or even smaller sized, mechanical equipment, chances are you’re also going to find hydraulic cylinders. These ubiquitous pieces of equipment haven’t changed much since their introduction due to the simplicity of their design; and the fact they work!

What Are Hydraulic Cylinders Made Up Of?If you’re new to the world of hydraulics, or are simply in need of a refresher on how hydraulic cylinders work, here’s a handy guide. Essentially, these cylinders provide power for a huge number of pieces of machinery. They rely on the basic principle of fluid under pressure like all hydraulic components.These cylinders are made of five constituent parts:·  The outside casing – also known as the barrel.·      Piston·         Rod·         Gland·         ButtThe piston is located in the interior of the cylinder and rotates. The larger the diameter, or bore, of the cylinder means it can harness more power. Pistons are an integral part of hydraulic cylinder design because it gives the cylinder force.The piston is attached to the rod. The rod itself is a long, depending on the size of the cylinder, piece of strong steel. This is exposed to the fluid path and, due to the very nature of its purpose, has to be extremely resistant to corrosion. The rod extends and retracts through the gland (the front part of the cylinder).Finally, the butt is located at the base or end of the cylinder. This is the part that usually attaches to the other parts of the machine to make the overall hydraulic system.So How Do They Work?Oil or hydraulic fluid is integral to every piece of hydraulic equipment,  it is held in a reservoir and when the system is active the oil is pump through control gear, when a cylinder operated service is activated at pressure, the pressure forces the piston to move, which is attached to the rod, which makes the rod move back and forth in a linear motion. The force of which will vary depending on the size of the bore of the cylinder and the pressure the bore is given. Whatever piece of equipment that the cylinder is attached to will begin to move. So, the process is remarkably simple, the pressure of the liquid building within the bore of the cylinder acts on the piston and starts the movement of the rod so the machinery or equipment it is controlling starts to move.Common Types of Hydraulic Cylinders Single-acting hydraulic cylinders are different from the more widely-used double-acting cylinders because the working fluid only acts on one side of the piston. A single-acting cylinder relies on the load, springs, other cylinders and often the momentum of an attached load to push the piston back in the other direction.Double-acting cylinders are different from single-acting cylinders in that they have a port at each end. This means that they can enjoy a supply of hydraulic fluid for both retraction and extension, making it a more powerful, alternative to the single-acting design. The many uses of Hydraulic Cylinders General Industry – There are many uses for hydraulic cylinders in general industries such as:·         Guillotines,·         Forklifts and Attachments·         Folding Equipment·         Post Hole Diggers·         Elevated Working Platforms Agricultural – Almost all major agricultural equipment utilises a hydraulic system, either in the form of hydraulic lifting or movement control. As agricultural equipment continues to develop and innovate, hydraulic systems and cylinders have to grow to remain equal to the tasks they have been set. Just some of the applications for these systems have included:·         Harvesters·         Spraying Equipment·         Tillage Bars, Seed Drills and Wool Presses·         Cotton Module Creators·         Slashers and Mowers Earthmoving – As one of the most demanding industries, with high-pressure environments, hydraulic cylinders have needed to be the very best in order to survive under the intense and extensive usage of earthmoving applications. Hydraulic systems have been used in a wide range of applications in the earthmoving industry, including:·         Excavator Buckets·         Skid Steer and Recovery Equipment·         Road Surfacing Equipment·         Quick Hitches Not sure what Hydraulic Cylinder you need? Do You Need A Single-Acting or Double-Acting Cylinder?A single-acting cylinder is a component in which the working fluid acts on only one side of the piston. This cylinder relies on the load, gravity or springs to push piston back in the other direction. 

Alternatively, a double-acting cylinder has the fluid working on either side of the piston. In order to connect the piston in a double-acting cylinder to the external mechanism, you need to make sure that a hole connects the cylinder to the piston rod. What Stroke Size Will You Need?The stroke is the part of the cylinder which actually moves during operation. You can take advantage of extended length and retracted length strokes when designing your own hydraulic component.How Long Does the Closed Centre Need To Be?The closed centre is the length, between pin centre and pin centre, when the cylinder itself is fully closed.What Is the Right Diameter For Your Cylinder Rod?This is the diameter of the piston inside the cylinder tube. This rod will often work with other features in your system and is important for connecting to other hydraulic parts.What Size Will Your Oil Supply Ports Be?Oil supply ports will dictate how much hydraulic fluid is allowed to enter the component. This can have a range of different effects on the flow, speed and power of any cylinder. It can also relate to the kinds of equipment this cylinder can successfully connect to.Can we tempt you?

If you’re searching for reliable hydraulic products, come to Flowfit. We have a wide selection of products to choose from including, ValvesPumps and Hoses, we even have a selection of Hydraulic Power Units!

If you have any questions regarding any of our products and would like to contact our team, you can do so in a variety of different ways:

·         You can send your questions to us using live chat (you can find this on the right hand side of your browser)

·         You can contact us by telephone by ringing 01584 876 033

·         You send an email to

·         Or you can use our enquiry form Need Technical advice? Contact Andy by:Email: Telephone: 01584 838485

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