Tips for Hydraulic Boat Repair and Maintenance
Oil-filled hydraulic systems, or simply hydraulics, have been used to power several different pieces of equipment and remain a boater’s dream.
This is because these systems are easy to maintain, require very little attention, and yet can provide so much value for boat owners.
Hydraulic power systems are not a new phenomenon, as the fluid under pressure phenomenon can be traced back to 6, 000 B.C., initially for turning water wheels and using gravity as the driving force.
A hydraulic crane invented by Englishman William Armstrong during the Industrial Revolution was used to handle cargo in the seaport of Newcastle and power was generated using a nearby reservoir.
He then proceeded to invent a hydraulic accumulator for powering cranes in the absence of a water supply. The accumulator featured an iron water tank and a heavy plunger. When the tank was filled, the water could be drawn in as the plunger was hoisted.
Since the plunger has some weight, the water could be forced into the hydraulic lines with enough pressure to initiate machinery operation. It functioned like one huge hypodermic needle.
Most hydraulics aboard boats pressurise the fluid using a pump.
The fluid is often oil enclosed in a system with several different components, including oil lines, a reservoir, rods, and pistons among others.
The hydraulic system is incomprehensible and therefore the pressure that the pump creates at one end of the system is maintained throughout the entire system.
With an added hydraulic appliance such as a steering cylinder or a motor, the pressurised fluid can work with the system to perform the necessary operations. Larger yachts have large hydraulic systems to be able to operate the machinery whereas smaller boats are equipped with trim tabs and steering systems.
Tips to help you maintain your boat’s hydraulic system
- Check the oil regularly. Oil is to hydraulics what blood is to humans. Ensure the oil level is sufficient. Unless there is a leak in the system, the level rarely drops. Leaks will also be rare if you carry out regular maintenance.
- Analyse a sample of your hydraulic oil. Every year, take a sample every six months and send it to the lab for further tests and analyses. The results from the lab will determine the next step you need to take, whether to change the oil because it is contaminated or flush the entire system.
- Check the steering for problems
Regardless, whether you own a yacht with complex hydraulics or just have a small simple boat to serve your needs, repair and maintenance service is crucial.
Remember that simple systems require simple repairs and maintenance whereas sophisticated systems can be more demanding.
Fortunately, hydraulics require little time for maintenance, unlike other onboard technologies. Call a hydraulic engineer or technician near you to schedule hydraulic boat repairs, as regular maintenance is part of maintaining the performance of your machinery or equipment. You can find a qualified hydraulic engineer in London, Essex, Kent, Heathrow, or any other part of the UK.