Hydraulics Maintenance

Air, hydraulic fluid, and glycol based hydraulic systems may slightly differ. But most arm clamping systems remain similar. Ensuring your arms' hydraulics are maintained is one of the first steps to having proper electrode clamping pressures.

Hydraulic Functionality

Mast arm clamping components utilize the actuation of hydraulics to slip an electrode; applying pressure to your arm’s hydraulics will reduce load and let go of your electrode stick. The requirement of pressure to slip an electrode serves as a safety feature. A loss in pressure due to a bad connection or broken line will not allow the electrode to slip into a furnace. 

A series of stacked disc springs within a mast arm’s hydraulic cylinder are designed to resist compression. Without pressurization an electrode can’t slip due to the force required to compress the disc springs. Applying pressure to the system builds force on the hydraulic cylinder’s piston and compresses the disc springs. Compressing the disc springs builds potential energy. Once an electrode is slipped into position pressure is removed from the system. The disc springs expand until the force applied to the electrode stick is equal to the potential force of the disc springs.

Image 1 - Spring Open, No Pressure, and Fully Closed Clamp
Image 2 - Spring Fully Compressed, Full Pressure, and Fully Open Clamp
Image 3 - Spring Partially Compressed, No Pressure, and Clamped Electrode

Hydraulic Inspection

Failure of hydraulics can result in components seizing or sudden electrode slippage. Arm servicing should involve the removal and inspection each arm’s hydraulic cylinder. Thoroughly inspecting a hydraulic on an arm would be impossible without removing numerous parts. However, there are signs that your hydraulics aren’t functioning or are beginning to fail. Cylinder failure includes:

A) Pump Pressure and Fluid Loss
Damaged or loose fittings may cause your fluid to leak from your hydraulic system. Worn seals and scorn cylinders can also be a major contributor to fluid loss. If your system contains a fluid reservoir be sure that fluids return to the same level when hydraulics are inactive. Large losses in fluid over time indicates your arm is experiencing significant hydraulic leakage. Also, an easy indication of seal failure is to check the back of your arm’s cylinder.

Image 4 - Hydraulic Cylinder Leak

B) Lack of Clamping Pressure
As mentioned in Hydraulic Functionality, disc springs play an important role in the clamping pressure applied to your electrode. Over long periods of time disc springs begin to crack, chip, and break. Broken disc springs reduce or completely stop your ability to clamp down on electrodes. Lack of clamping pressure may indicate that your cylinder springs have been in need of service. 

If you’d like to acquire a clamping pressure device feel free to contact us to build one that’s custom to your clamping module.

Image 5 - Broken Disk Springs From Unserviced Cylinder