In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Storing Hydraulic Cylinders Outside
Nov 15, 2012
A lot of large field cultivators, disks and other tillage equipment get stored outdoors. Those implements have three, four or up to six big hydraulic cylinders that are money-makers for equipment dealerships.
That's because each spring we rebuild a number of big, expensive hydraulic cylinders that were stored outdoors with their shafts fully extended. Their chrome finishes withstood the first few years of weathering, but even the thickest chrome eventually succumbs to the elements. Once the surface of a chromed shaft starts to pit due to corrosion--even tiny pits you can barely feel with a fingernail---those irregularities snag on the rubber seals of the cylinder's end cap as the cylinder is extended and retracted during field use, and it's only a matter of time before the seals are leaking. The expense of repairs is multiplied because it's useless to simply replace the seals if the same corroded shaft will be gnawing at them every time the cylinder extends and retracts.
If an implement has to be stored outside, try to fold or unfold it so its hydraulic cylinders are retracted. If the geometry of the machine is such that some cylinders must be left with their shafts exposed to the elements, Grandpa's old trick for storing moldboard plows isn't a bad idea---coat the chromed shaft with the heaviest, stickiest grease you've got in your shop. The grease will squeegee off next year the first time you use the machine, and the chromed shafts will be shiny and smooth.