Hydraulic Dump Cylinders Will Last the Life of the Vehicle,
Hydraulic dump cylinders are fundamental components to the safe and reliable operation of dump trucks and trailers. Properly maintained, they will last the life of the vehicle. Unfortunately, maintenance is all too often overlooked, and cylinders suffer abuse in key areas, which can affect both their safety in operation and also their reliability. The core problem seems to be one of time constraints. Tight schedules prevent operators taking vehicles out of service, even for a few hours, to perform routine maintenance. One can understand this reticence, with the cost of an inoperative truck. However, on the other side of the equation, there is the fact that, if a truck is taken out of service for preventative maintenance, then the maintenance is scheduled; the operator is in control and can determine the most opportune time for the work to be performed. The alternative could be a breakdown at much higher cost.
Larger fleet operators appreciate this reasoning and usually have preventative maintenance schedules. Lacking the resources of larger organizations, smaller fleets and owner operators are not generally able to afford dump cylinders the same levels of attention. As a result, there is more onus on the driver of the vehicle to undertake the simple day-to-day tasks that keep the dump cylinder in good working order.
This is not a problem if the driver is aware of what is required; unfortunately, he often is not. Here the problem is not related to the supplier. Rather, it is whether the manual finds its way from the body builder into the hands of the truck operator or driver – the people who most require it.
The operator’s manual is crucial because it provides key information that enables the driver to learn the do’s and don’ts of cylinder operation. It also enables him to familiarise himself with and check the key areas of the dump cylinder system before he puts it to everyday use.
The general areas that require checking include: hoses and fittings, for abrasion and leaks; hoist and hinge mountings for security and wear; oil level; detachable hose couplings for tightness; the PTO engaged warning system; and the body raised warning system.
In addition to familiarisation, the driver must be aware of the safety code for tipping, and how compromising the code affects the operation and life of the dump cylinder. Prime examples are inordinate loading of the dump cylinder past its recommended capacity which in turn helps to resist the effects of tipping on uneven ground, especially with what are known as “sticky loads”.
So-called “sticky loads” are those that refuse to slide from the body once the tipper is raised. In many cases the drivers reaction to this problem is to “shunt” the load – that is to drive the vehicle forward with the body fully raised, and then brake suddenly to provide inertia to release the load. Unfortunately, this process can cause a dump cylinder to buckle, sometimes with disastrous results, such as piercing the cab of the vehicle.
The second problem for dump cylinders resulting from sticky loads is that they can adhere to just one side of the trailer body as the body is raised. The result is that the body tips to the load side, moving the center of gravity outside of the centerline of the vehicle. This, in turn, can cause the vehicle to roll over.
In addition to the state of the load itself, another contributory factor to this problem is the failure to regularly regrease hinge points both on the dump cylinder and body. Many operators use power wash equipment that blasts under body areas of the trailer, in the process often removing grease from these critical hinge points.
What can result from this is that the hinge points on one side of the body often become looser than those on the opposite side, causing an imbalance, which can contribute to a roll over situation. To avoid this problem, it is essential to regularly grease the brackets that fix the dump cylinder, and check them for any signs of excess wear.
Finally and importantly, any malfunction in the operation of tipping cylinders should be reported promptly to the relevant service agent.
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