Hydraulics 101 for Beginners
Learn about the basics of hydraulics for tractors, farm equipment, log splitters or other equipment and machinery, how hydraulic systems work and how to maintain a hydraulic pump.
What is Hydraulics?
A hydraulic system uses compressed fluid to transfer force applied at one point to another point. The basic components that make up a hydraulic system are:
The hydraulic reservoir stores non-pressurized hydraulic fluid, typically hydraulic oil. This fluid is the lifeblood of the hydraulic system. The hydraulic oil also travels through a filter that collects impurities.
Hydraulic pumps transfer the fluid from the reservoir to the hydraulic system. This transfer raises the energy level of the fluid by increasing its pressure. The motor provides the power source for the pump.
The high-pressure fluid acts upon the rod and piston within a hydraulic cylinder. Each stroke of the cylinder converts the fluid power (pressure) into work (mechanical force). The reservoir oil level falls while the rod and piston are extending.
When the rod and piston retract, the fluid returns to the reservoir. The metal walls of the reservoir cool the fluid by allowing heat to escape. The reduced pressure in the reservoir also allows trapped or dissolved air to escape from the fluid. If cylinders must compress air bubbles, the efficiency of the system is reduced.
There are two types of valves, directional control valves and pressure relief valves. Directional control valves manage the flow path of the fluid in the system. Pressure relief valves protect the system plumbing and components against pressure overloads. They also limit the output force exerted by rotary motors and cylinders. These valves open whenever the pressure goes beyond the set value, allowing oil to flow back into the reservoir.
The fluid travels from one component to the next within a hydraulic system through a hydraulic hose.
Types of Hydraulic Valves
The following types of hydraulic valves are available at Tractor Supply Co. Check with your local store for more information:
- Converta Valve
- Detent Kit
- SCO Open Center / Detent Valve
- Open Center Valve
- Two Circuit Hydraulic Multi-Plier Valve
- SBS Series Valves
- Single Spool, 3-Position, 4 Way
- Double Spool, Both 3-Position, 4 Way
- Double Spool, Both 3-Position,
- 4 Way w/Float