Human hearts can develop clogs. Recognized as possibly the finest pumps in existence, even these long-lasting biological machines run into trouble when fatty deposits block oxygenated blood supplies. How, then, can a hydraulic pump hope to avoid clogging? Well, unlike the human heart, design engineers can alter a hydraulic pump’s architecture so that it won’t clog. All right, let’s tear down a clogged device to see where the trouble began.
Deconstructing Clogged Pumps
Unlike older equipment, contemporary hydraulic components are designed to handle greater amounts of pressure. The gear gets smaller, the mobile hydraulic cranes and lifters get smaller as well, and they still somehow manage to provide plenty of responsive lifting power. But there’s a tradeoff to deal with, for small pumps and higher pressures generally create more clogging problems. The reduced internal equipment architecture feels the full force of the fluid pressure, which also drives more contaminants before this crushing wave. As the moving parts impart their stroke, the gunk interferes with a piston, blocks a chamber, or attenuates the spin on a rotating shaft. Seals choke, drive cams heat up, and the whole pump architecture wobbles on the edge of failure. So, what’s inside the deconstructed pump? There are bits of solid residue, maybe a few beads of water, plus any number of blocked filtration elements. Performance-impaired, a mobile hydraulics device can’t possibly operate efficiently while its prime mover is suffering.
Topnotch Pump Design Basics
Parts clearance values are critical when sketching the architecture of a clog-resistant hydraulic pump. Just like the ventricles in a heart that usually beat a perfect tune, the surface clearance tolerances prevent nasty clogging issues. Three-body abrasion takes place if this dimensional attribute is incorrect. Fine-grained solids, having bypassed a filter, scour and score pump plates until the sliding and rotating parts no longer lock together properly. In axial pump designs, interlocking components are common. The swashplate and cylinder block align correctly so that the attached actuators open and close responsively. If the pump architecture is dimensionally or materially subpar, the contaminant-laced and pressurized oil coursing through this key energy provider will experience an overwhelming performance hit. With lesser pumps, that operational strike is inevitable. With topnotch designs, the performance attenuation is manageable.
By “manageable,” we mean the operational decline can be tolerated for a short period. Even a high-end hydraulic pump can’t be expected to handle that kind of clog-generating stress for long. In the meantime, a report can go out to the maintenance engineer or service technician, at which point the clog will be remedied. With a lesser piece of power generating apparatus, the interim damage would likely be permanent. Built tough and architecturally accurate, superior hydraulic pumps avoid clogging issues. Incidentally, pump strainers are designed to prevent clogs, but the attached pump may cavitate when attached to this mesh canister.
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