When your reputation depends on your reliability and quality workmanship, it is imperative you take care of your equipment — because when it stops working, so do you. If you’ve been an equipment owner for a long time, you probably know how to handle your own hydraulic repairs. But everyone starts somewhere, and these tips should help those who are ready to save some money and tackle a little maintenance on their own.

When you’re ready to take on a hydraulic cylinder rebuild, start with a good plan. Make sure you have all the tools and parts you need so you can get the job done without running back and forth to town all day.

Obtain a diagram specific to your cylinder to use as a guide. During disassembly, keep track of the order you remove parts and the way they were originally. Reassembly should be done in the reverse order, and it’ll be a lot easier if you pay attention while taking it apart.

Loosen the input valves to pull the shaft out of the cylinder; otherwise suction will make it difficult to remove or reinstall.

Take the opportunity to carefully inspect all the components during disassembly. Confirm the rod is straight, its finish isn’t pitted or scored and the barrel has not bulged during operation. The best maintenance cannot overcome failing parts.

Clean the parts with a petroleum-based solvent and decrease dry time by blowing them dry with compressed air.

Coat all the parts with clean hydraulic fluid during reassembly and pack the new seals after making sure they are free from defects like burrs or nicks. Replace new seals carefully.

If you know you damage a seal or scratch the rod during reassembly, replace it before proceeding and consider yourself lucky. If you unknowingly operate your equipment with a faulty component, you’re in for an unpleasant expensive surprise.

Don’t be intimidated by the precision required by hydraulic system repair, but do not underestimate it, either. A solid plan and some common sense can be of great help to you. But if you do find yourself spending more money and time trying to do it yourself than you expected, call R & N Hydraulics at 501-847-2816 or contact us on our website. Located in Bryant, AR, we have a warehouse full of stock parts and seals and can get your repair done quickly at a price you can afford.