Types of Hydraulic Cylinders

There are different types of hydraulic cylinders available that are designed to work within specific applications. Below is a brief explanation of the most common cylinder types along with some specialty cylinders that are available from Bailey.

The Basics

A hydraulic cylinder is an actuator that creates linear movement by converting hydraulic energy back to a mechanical movement. Cylinders are made up of a steel barrel, a piston connected to a piston rod that moves back and forth, and mounting accessories. They are used in equipment to lift, push, pull and press loads that require exceptional force.

Available in several different body styles, including tie-rod, welded and telescopic, hydraulic cylinders can be single-acting or double-acting.

Single-acting cylinders vs double-acting cylinders

Single-acting Cylinders

In a single acting hydraulic cylinder, piston force is applied in a single direction when pressurized oil extends the rod. Once the oil is exhausted, gravity and the load return it to its natural position.

Double-acting Cylinders

Double-acting cylinders can exert force in two directions. The piston cylinder is divided into two pressurized chambers that enable the rod to achieve both outward and return strokes. Pressurized oil allows the rod to move in either direction.

So how do you choose between single-acting and double-acting? Single-acting cylinders are best for simpler applications, where you only need to push in one direction. Double-acting cylinders are more complex to operate and maintain but offer both push and pull forces, have more precise control, and are better for repetitive actions.

Basic Body Styles

Tie-Rod Cylinders

Tie-rod hydraulic cylinders use high strength threaded steel rods to hold the two end caps to the cylinder barrel. They are held together by four or more threaded tie bolts that run the length of the entire cylinder tube. These bolts hold the baseplate and head together. They usually have static seals to prevent leakage between the barrel and end-cap interface. Tie-rod cylinders are best for medium to light-duty mobile applications. Their cost of ownership is lower, since they are easier to assemble, maintain and repair.

Standard Tie-rod Cylinder

Rephasing Tie-rod Cylinder

Rephasing tie-rod cylinders incorporate an internal bypass for synchronizing the cylinder in a series circuit. They are ideal for construction and agricultural applications where you need to lift independent loads plumbed in series.

Welded Cylinders

In a welded hydraulic cylinder, the barrel is welded to the end caps rather than using steel rods. Static seals are used to seal the head or gland of a welded cylinder. Welded body cylinders have many advantages over tie-rod cylinders, including a compact design that usually can withstand higher pressures, often greater than 5,000 psi. Because of this, they are often used on mobile machinery where space is at a premium. Their rugged design not only makes them ideal for extreme weather and operating conditions, but also contributes to much longer service life than tie-rod cylinders because they do not fail due to tie-rod stretch at high pressures and long strokes.

Telescopic Hydraulic Cylinders

Telescopic cylinders are several individual cylinders (like the sections of a telescope) nested together in order of decreasing size. Because this style of cylinder is able to extend from its compact design, it provides an exceptionally long stroke. The collapsed length of a typical telescopic cylinder varies between 20% to 40% of its extended length. In general, telescopic cylinders are single acting and are available in two to five stages. They are frequently used in trucks in the construction industry, vehicle trailers, garbage and dump trucks, as well as in the agricultural industry.

Bailey Specialty Cylinders

Chief AT

The Chief® AT line of cylinders is a durable alternative to tie-rod cylinders for lighter duty construction and agriculture applications. Unlike a tie-rod, there are no bolts. They feature an easy snap ring on the rod-end gland for easy field repair.

Chief WX

The Chief® WX line of cylinders features patented designs and is ideal for applications where port adjustability and overall cylinder space is restricted. It features an adjustable 360° rotating gland with retaining ring design offering 2 base-end ports for applications requiring a variety port positions.

Chief WTG

The Chief® Welded Tang cylinder, or WTG for short, features Bailey's patented adjustable 360° rotating gland and is one of our most durable cylinders. It is sometimes referred to as a lug end cylinder, due to its one piece lug mount welded to both the rod and base ends. The WTG can utilize a spherical ball or steel bushing insert to improve wear life. Tang cylinders are commonly used in heavy duty construction equipment.

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