Hydraulic Repair Iowa - Social Proof
410 Freel Dr Ste 102, Ames, IA 50010 515-292-2599

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7 Day Rebuild Time Guaranteed or It’s Free

If we cannot rebuild your hydraulic cylinder or pump within 7 days its free.
This does not include if you need parts machined.

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If you’re curious about hydraulic cylinders, their components, or their repair and rebuild processes, this guide will answer your most pressing questions.

What is a Hydraulic Actuator?

Hydraulic actuators, also known as hydraulic cylinders, are pivotal in numerous industries like manufacturing and construction. They create mechanical force in a straight line for various tasks, such as lifting or pushing heavy objects. Common uses include hydraulic jacks for cars and forklift operations.

How Do They Work?

Based on Pascal’s Principle, hydraulic actuators distribute pressure changes uniformly in a fluid chamber. This ensures that equal pressure affects all parts in the system. The principle is foundational for many industrial applications.

Key Components:

Piston: Extends through the cylinder head, using hydraulic fluid to move. Seals ensure maintained pressure.

Cylinder Barrel: A sturdy tube holding the cylinder, preventing leaks.

Cylinder Head: Contains the piston’s motion and seals for alignment.

Cylinder Base: Sealed end of the barrel where equipment is mounted.

Seals and Gaskets: Withstand high pressures and temperatures, made from materials like Teflon and rubber.

Hydraulic vs. Pneumatic Cylinders:

Hydraulic cylinders use fluid, while pneumatic ones use compressed air. Each has its strengths and drawbacks.

Hydraulic Advantages:

Superior horsepower-to-weight ratio.

Produces much stronger force than pneumatics.

Can function efficiently even when distant from the operation.

Hydraulic Disadvantages:

More complex with potential for fluid leaks.

Can contaminate other components if leaking.

Pneumatic Advantages:

Simpler, precise, and cost-effective.

Operates safely in extreme temperatures without fire risks.

Pneumatic Disadvantages:

Less versatile and potentially harmful to equipment if air is contaminated.

Less energy efficient.

Types of Hydraulic Cylinders:

Single-Acting Cylinders: Fluid enters one port, causing retraction. Needs external force to reset.

Double-Acting Cylinders: Fluid enters and exits through two ports, enabling both retraction and extension.

Telescopic Cylinders: Used in heavy machinery; a series of single-acting cylinders working in tandem.

Tandem Cylinders: Two barrels connected by piston rods, offering high force in a compact space.

Choosing the Right Hydraulic Actuator:

Calculate Mass: Determine the weight of the object to be moved.

Understand the Task: Is it a simple push or a complex maneuver?

Determine Bore and Rod Size: Larger barrels handle bigger tasks, and the rod size depends on several factors.

Cushion Options: Consider cushioning for high-speed operations to reduce impact.


Hydraulic linear actuators play a crucial role in various global applications. They stand out for their efficiency, strength, and longevity. In mobile machinery, they’re the primary choice for equipment like excavators, bulldozers, and dump trucks. Moreover, manufacturing sectors depend on them for machines like forging presses and injection molders.


Both single-acting and double-acting cylinders serve hydraulic machinery. While single-acting cylinders boast simplicity and low maintenance, double-acting cylinders, due to their pressurized chamber, offer better control for operators.


With over five decades of expertise, we’re a top choice for hydraulic cylinder solutions. We not only offer an expansive range of cylinders but also repair all brands and styles. Our hydraulic linear cylinder collection includes:

Welded cylinders

Mill duty cylinders

Tie rod cylinders

Bespoke hydraulic cylinders

Single and double-acting hydraulic cylinders

Large bore cylinders

Tandem and stainless steel hydraulic cylinders

Duplex hydraulic cylinders


If you notice pressure drops, significant leaks, visible damage like cracks or dents on the piston, damaged seals, or any corrosion on the cylinder, it might be time for a rebuild. The true extent of damage can only be ascertained after the cylinder is fully disassembled and examined.

A proper rebuild is vital. Mishandled rebuilds can pose risks to safety, damage the cylinder, shorten its life, and be a costly mistake.


Tip 1: Inspect by Disassembling

Before deciding on a rebuild or minor repairs, disassemble the cylinder. First, drain its oil, then methodically take it apart. Carefully inspect and clean each part, focusing on the cylinder barrel, cap, piston, and piston rod. Pay special attention to hoses, O-rings, snap-rings, wipers, and seals as they commonly lead to failures. Any damage on the piston rod might hint at a bent rod. Check for any visible defects, and if possible, conduct a dye-penetrant inspection (DPI) to detect any surface micro-fissures.

Tip 2: Use the Right Tools

Equip yourself with appropriate tools that are in prime condition. This might include torque wrenches, screwdrivers, seal kits, mallets, pliers, and clean cloths. Using subpar tools can inadvertently harm cylinder parts, leading to more significant issues down the line.

Tip 3: Properly Size Your Seals

Repeated seal replacements might indicate issues with the grooves or the seals’ fit. When fitting new seals, don’t merely measure their current size since seals can change dimensions with temperature fluctuations. Instead, measure based on the grooves where they fit. Incorrectly fitted seals can cause fluid build-up, leading to further damage.

Tip 4: Test Before Use

After rebuilding, always test the cylinder before returning it to service. Use fresh oil, consistent with the cylinder’s requirements. A common test method is the end-of-stroke bypass test, where you pressurize the cylinder and check for leaks around the seal at the stroke’s end.

Tip 5: Consider Professional Assistance

While visual inspections can detect some issues, they might miss others. If you’re uncertain, engage a professional for the rebuild. Their expertise, proper tools, and high-quality components will ensure the cylinder works efficiently post-rebuild, saving you time and money in the long run.

Tip 6: Educate and Empower Yourself

Remember that you are always your first and last line of defense, and knowledge is power. A good technician will have no problem walking you through the process, explaining components, processes, and procedures. You won’t be able to fix every problem, but having the knowledge to better articulate and troubleshoot a given problem can save you a lot of time and money. Remember that safety always comes first, and despite the wealth of online information available today, be sure to check with your technician first. Knowledge and wisdom are never interchangeable!