Hydraulic hoses are obviously a vital part of any hydraulic system. Unfortunately, being made of rubber or plastic, they are inherently weaker than the metal hydraulic components and framework surrounding them. Hoses are typically the first thing to need replacing in a hydraulic system. While we can’t change that, we can take some steps to help protect hoses from excessive wear and tear and ensure we get the best possible performance from them.
First and foremost, you absolutely must choose the right hose for your application. This means knowing your system’s temperature, pressure, and flow requirements. Always ensure that your hose is rated to withstand not only the normal operating conditions but also the maximum likely surge or spike conditions.
One of the most common mistakes that people make when routing hydraulic hose in cramped conditions is bending the hose beyond its minimum recommended radius. This type of overbending can negatively affect the hose’s pressure capacity and service life. In especially severe cases, overbending can even cause the coupling to fail and the system to develop a bad leak. It is also important to ensure that the hose only bends in one plane and is never twisted. Finally, be sure that no bends start too close to the coupling. At minimum, allow for a length of hose equivalent to twice the outside diameter to run straight before bending.
Abrasion is another prime enemy of hydraulic hoses. If you allow your hoses to rub against one another or any other part of the hydraulic system, they will wear out faster. There are a number of ways to limit abrasion. First of all, you can buy special abrasion-resistant hoses. You can also use clamps to hold hoses securely in place and prevent them from touching anything. Many clamps have vibration-dampening properties to further protect the hoses. Finally, you may wish to adjust your entire system to prevent excessive vibrations.
You can save a lot of time working on your hydraulic hoses if you use snap-to-connect couplings. These types of couplings create a secure connection, but require no special tools to install or remove. This makes hose maintenance—and maintenance of other hydraulic parts attached to or located beneath hoses—a breeze.
If the hose assembly is located outside the machinery’s casing, you may wish to install a hose restraint to limit the range of motion a hose can have if it breaks free of its coupling. This prevents the hose from spraying potentially harmful chemical fluids every which way and injuring someone in the event of a hose failure.
One final tip that may make working with your hydraulic hoses easier is to buy pre-built hose assemblies rather than individual hose lengths. This greatly simplifies the process of hose installation. Bernell Hydraulics offers custom hose assemblies in any configuration you might need.