What is a Hydraulic Cylinder?

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


Hydraulic cylinders can be double-acting (pressurized oil moves it in either direction) or single-acting (pressurized oil extends the rod in one direction, and gravity pushes it back to its natural position).

To properly select a cylinder there are several factors to consider:

  • Bore size (tube diameter) which determines how much force can be delivered at a given oil pressure
  • Stroke, or how far the rod extends
  • Piston rod diameter which is critical since it must apply that force without bending or buckling
  • Speed determines the gallons per minute needed from the hydraulic pump and determines the correct port sizes
  • How the cylinder will mount

We have hydraulic formulas and hydraulic calculators to make sure your cylinder is sized properly for the application. We at Bailey International are your trusted source for hydraulic products, system design help, as well as education and general support. After the sale, it’s the service and support that count!

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