For heavy equipment owners at least, there are only two ways to get the essential hydraulics knowledge they need. The first way is via their preferred repair shop, in exchange for helping to pay for the owner’s holiday home. This is ‘after the event’ education. And it’s the most expensive education anyone can get. The second way is to get and study a couple of good books on the subject. This is ‘upfront education’ and compared to ‘after the event’ education it can be got for pennies on the dollar.
A question I received from a heavy equipment owner recently is a good illustration of this. He explains that the diesel engine of his 2011 Volvo Class 8 truck seized after “someone” put hydraulic oil in the sump. And while he understands hydraulic oil is not engine oil, it’s still a lubricant, right? And so he’s finding it hard to believe that the two events are connected.
So I write back to him and say: “short answer is: yes, the two events are almost certainly connected. And for a very modest investment ($87), chapter 2 of The Hydraulic Maintenance Handbook explains why this happens, and what Caterpillar does to prevent such cross-compartment contamination from destroying engines.”
Of course it’s difficult for me to recommend my own books without appearing to be self-serving. Unfortunately for this chap, he will have to find the $20,000 for his engine rebuild. OUCH! But the real tragedy is, this engine failure was almost certainly preventable. And for less than a penny on the dollar invested upfront, he COULD have prevented it. It and a whole host of other potential problems.
Oh, and in the context of this discussion, ‘engine rebuild’ can just as easily be substituted with ‘hydraulic pump rebuild’, ‘hydraulic motor rebuild’ or ‘hydraulic cylinder rebuild’. And based on my long experience in the hydraulics repair biz, I know that the majority of these failures can be avoided too. With only a modest amount of intentional, upfront education. So if you haven’t read it yet, “Six Costly Mistakes Most Hydraulics Users Make… And How You Can Avoid Them!” is a great place to start.