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Hydraulic cylinder tips part 6: check cylinder alignment

Author : Andrew Delaney Parker Hannifin

24 April 2013

A hydraulic cylinder piston rod has a dual function: it transmits the force generated by the fluid acting against the piston, and it guides the direction in which that force is applied.

This second function leads to one of the most common causes of early seal failure: if the piston rod and the machine member to which it is attached are not precisely aligned, side loading of the piston rod will cause rapid wear to one side of the gland and seal assembly. The efficiency of the cylinder is reduced and the condition may also result in contamination of the hydraulic fluid, leakage and, potentially, rod breakage.

Specifying cylinders that use high quality materials and finishes can offset higher initial costs by giving a reduced total cost of ownership. High tensile, carbon alloy steel piston rods that have been subjected to hardening, plating and polishing processes will not only maintain sustained high levels of performance, but also increase seal life and reduce overall maintenance requirements.

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