Hydraulics – Power, vulnerability and bite

Hydraulics – Awesome power that comes with an Achilles heel and the potential to bite like a lethal black mamba

Digging power is all about the hydraulics.

Hydraulic ram and pipes

The wonderful in-compressible physical property of a fluid means that pressure on a liquid is equally transmitted in all directions (Pascal’s law). Hydraulic machines such as diggers exploit this principle, where in simple terms, a little effort on levers transfers through small fluid filled hoses and pipes to large piston rams producing huge force in digging arms.

The problem is this law of physics only applies all the time the hydraulic oil is in a ‘closed’ fluid system. As soon as the ‘closed’ system is breached power is lost.

Achilles heel: The mini excavator has awesome power but it’s Achilles heel is the vulnerability of it’s rams and hoses. Even the slightest knock, to a chrome plated cylinder rod can result in a breached seal causing leaks. Exposed hydraulic pipes and hoses are open to potential damage, the results of which range from slight leaks to a full blown Vesuvius with complete machine failure.

Hydraulic pipes and hosesTo reduce downtime for you, our customers, during our ongoing preventative maintenance, we inspect hoses, pipes and rams for wear and tear and repair and replace anything that needs it.

Recently we were called out to a breakdown where the dipper arm of a 3 tonne digger had struck against a skip. Unfortunately a pipe and the main lifting ram needed to be replaced putting the machine out of action until the following day.

To avoid your own downtime please take every care not to damage rams, hoses or pipes.

Photographs showing the innocuous appearanc e of a fluid injection wound and the extent of the surgery needed to treat it.
Photographs showing the innocuous appearanc
e of a fluid injection wound and the extent of the surgery needed to treat it.

Black Mamba: Have you ever heard of ‘hydraulic oil injection injury’? – Its a seemingly minor injury with major consequences.

Take a look at this it’s absolutely horrifying!

http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr976.pdf  This injury can result from attempting to locate a leak during hydraulic hose failure by running a hand over the hoses.

A tiny high pressure jet of escaping oil will inject the hand that passes over it like a snake bite. At first, the injection might have felt like a bee sting or small stab and the entry area may look like nothing more than a pin prick. Split hydraulic hose

Unfortunately hydraulic oil is toxic and the huge injection pressure into the hand does far more damage under the skin surface than is visible.

Immediate medical attention and surgery is needed to remove all of the oil and if left untreated for more than a few hours the injury can lead to amputation or, in severe cases, even death.

Never touch a leaking pressurised hose. If you have any hydraulic problems with our machines whilst on hire to you please call us. For your own safety, unless you know what you are doing when depressurising hoses, please leave well alone.