We here at Smith’s Hydraulics would like to deliver some unfortunate news to any and all operators of hydraulic systems – they don’t lubricate themselves. Snark aside, it is incredibly important to understand the general role of lubrication within these types of systems. So, today, we’d like to explore three types of hydraulic fluid and the role they have in keeping your systems running smoothly. Keep in mind, these fluid types are ideal within certain conditions – so, it might not be the best idea to experiment with their use unless you are experiencing the particular problems addressed here. Having said that, let’s take a look.
Full-Synthetic Hydraulic Fluids
These fluids are made entirely of man-made molecule chains with careful attention given to their arrangement and structure. Fluid stability is what this type of fluid does best. When used within a system experiencing spikes of high or low temperature, full-synthetic fluids can maintain high enough pressure to avoid unnecessary viscosity issues. These fluids also tend to decrease the amount of wear on the walls and junctions of hydraulic systems as well. It’s really a shame that they are often the most expensive type of hydraulic fluid.
Petroleum-Based Hydraulic Fluids
Petroleum-derived fluids are much more common within the hydraulic community, given that they are much cheaper to produce than full-synthetic brands. This type of fluid often sports additives that help it cultivate various beneficial effects within the hydraulic system. Anti-wear (AW) additives can be included to decrease the amount of structural breakdown. For a similar reason, rust and oxidation inhibitors (RO) are also common additives. Viscosity can be addressed directly by introducing viscosity index inprovers (VI) in the mix. Petroleum-based fluids are popular for their ability to mimic the effects of synthetic fluids, and often at only half the cost.
Water-Based Hydraulic Fluids
While water-based hydraulic fluids are rarely used, they do solve a particular niche need within the hydraulic community — flame control. Systems that are in danger of catching fire or suffering damages due to unwanted combustion require water-based hydraulic fluids to lesson the potential fire risk. Systems engaged in activities involving high levels of friction often make strategic use of water based fluids. These fluids are generally less expensive than synthetic options, but often offer next to nothing in wear-protection. Regardless, they are a must have for systems in danger of flame eruptions.
The most important take-away from this article should be:
“Hydraulic systems require lubrication for any and all situations.”
Running these machines without proper lubrication leads to unnecessary bouts of wear-and-tear that will end up costing you far more in repairs than what you initially would have invested in order to keep up those fluid levels. Remember to always check those fluid gauges, and never let systems run in the red for too long. Make a habit of running without lubrication, and you’ll be visiting us for repairs in no time.