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Help! New Splitter Cylinder Leaks!

Post in 'The Gear' started by velvetfoot, Jun 3, 2007.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The splitter, a 30 Ton Harbor Freight unit, which I got last fall, but only really started to use this week is leaking oil like crazy through the ram seal. The leaking stops after a while (gets hot?), but after the engine is turned off for a while, upon restart it starts leaking like crazy again. This isn't just a little leak. I am using the premium heavy duty hydraulic fluid from NAPA.

    What's the prognosis? I'm thinking there's no adjustment, but since I can't see in there, could that be a possibility?
    Are seals replaceable by a relatively handy owner, or is it a job only for pros with very specialized and expensive tools?
    I'll try warranty, but somehow I remember a 90 day deal, which is long gone.

    Thanks.

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  2. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Rod end gland seals are the first to leak with all hydraulics.
    But this should take time unless dirt got in and tore the seal or the fluid was incompatable with the seals in the cylinder.
    If it stops leaking after it heats up I would lean to the wrong fluid in the system, though I vaugely remember you posting sometime ago about the fluid required.
    It could just be that the lipseal or rod wiper was installed carelessly too.
    Regardless they are pretty easy to replace..... Some cylinders are more difficult than others, depending on the manufacturer...
    Parker require a special gland seal wrench but I don't know of any others that do.
    Seal type is important Buna-N is a standard and used with Hydraulic oil and some ATF fluids......
    Some fluids I think they are mostly synthetics can attack this seal and there is another seal type Hypalon or something like that (I've been out of Hydraulics for quite sometime now).
    What is the cylinder make and the exact type of fluid that you used, as well as the operating temp of the oil, does the pump get too hot what is the pup set at etc..
    The rod end should be pressurized on the retract stroke so there really shouldn't be any load on that seal unless the pressure is set too high, retract speed set too low etc...
    I probably missed some stuff but..........
  3. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The Harbor Freight manual has a cut-away of the cylinder as well as the part numbers for the individual seals and a seal kit.

    Give'em a call (800 444-3353) and find out what they get for a kit or else any local hydraulics shop can repair it.
  5. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks very much guys.
    It's disheartening-I was thinking I wouldn't have to mess around with this for years, and pleading my case to HF tomorrow doesn't appeal to me either.

    GVA, I just looked at it again-the oil oozes -but a quick ooze-from all around the seal.
    Do you think there could be something that could be tightented (gland?).
    It's encouraging that it might be do-able by myself.
  6. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    I checked the manual online not too helpful

    http://www.harborfreight.com/manuals/91000-91999/91840.pdf
    Page 11 is the cylinder breakdown.
    The hydraulic diagram, not so good.
    The cylinder is pretty straight forward it looks like the gland threads into the cylinder tube, if this is the case there is nothing to tighten it's just leaking around the rod.
    What is the fluid your using?
    As far as putting the rod seals into the gland it's easy.... The thing that is important is when putting the gland end back over the rod and threading it into the cylinder this is where the seals tend to get rolled over.
  7. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    I want to make a serious caution. Do Not Check for leaks with any part of your body. I once worked for a heavy equipment company and a shop "helper" ran his hand down a leaking hydraulic line. The end result it had to be amputated from hydro fluid injected into his arm and causing a massive infection. That stuff is scary.

    My suggestion is go back to HF and plead your case for a full replacement.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The fluid is NAPA part number 85-401 (this number is off of the container-the web site doesn't list that number)
    It's Heavy Duty Tractor Hydraulic Fluid, or something like that.
    Thanks again.
  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    One thing to check is to run the cylinder out all the way and look at it very carefully for any nicks, gouges, pits, or other imperfections in the chrome surface - if there are any, don't waste time trying to replace the gland seals etc. unless you also replace the rod - any kind of damage to the hard chrome plating will damage the seal as the shaft passes through it, and cause leaks. Replacing the seal only helps for a short while as the new one gets torn up promptly in the same way. This is a common failure in motorcycle front ends, and the same thing applies to other hydraulics as well Those cylinders must be kept immaculate or they don't last.

    Given the amount of crud around a splitter, I'm suprised they hold up as well as they do. I know some bikes use rubber "gaiters" to keep the crud off their fork tubes, but I've never seen them used on splitters or other hydraulics, I not really sure why.

    Gooserider
  10. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    I think you have gotten excellent advice here. Goose especially hit the point. You need to find the root cause of the problem not just fix the symptom. Otherwise you may have to replace another seal.

    One of the main reasons I developed my impact mechanical splitter was to get away from hydraulics. I built several hydraulic splitters in the 1970’s and 80’s. The maintenance and leaks grew old on me after 10 years so I invented a fluidless, very low maintenance splitter. (no leaky seals, hoses, valves, or pumps, no dirt in the oil, no nicks on the rod, filter and oil changes, etc.). See it at post 17 in the following link.
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/7131/P15/

    I was in the local Home Depot last fall and they had 10 new hydraulic splitters on the floor to sell. I noticed that two of them were leaking already and hadn’t even been used yet!

    Many people on this forum in general are very price sensitive. People shy away from say Timberwolf due to the price however they are used by many rental companies who have to make money with their splitters. Just an observation.
  11. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Good news: It's under a 2-year warranty and they're sending me a new cylinder-will take a month though.

    My feeling is that this equipment should be made good enough for homeowner, not commercial use.
    If I was in the business, it would be worthwhile to buy better.

    The SuperSplit with the flywheels was very interesting to me but it cost 2.5 times what I paid.
    The reality for me is that I probably should've just bought my wood pre-split.
    It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the thing kind of mostly takes up room in the garage and I only burn 2-3 cords anyway.
    Plus, wood is low around here: something like 150 a cord.
    Somebody told me that wood will be going down because a paper mill shut down.
  12. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Good to hear about the replacement.

    I didn't mention scoring on the rod because that chrome plating and the rod is alot harder than wood ;-) Sounds like the seal was rolled when it was installed to me.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Y'all are great! It's amazing the speed of responses and depth of help that everyone gives here. Pats on the back to all of you.
  14. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    As I remember from the last HF thread, stay away from rubber and plastic products made in China was a chant from more than one person. They do not make these products like we do. They deteriorate faster and are less tolerant to solvents and UV exposure. It's good that they are replacing the ram, did you ask if they will guarantee the new ram for two years? Just a thought, but might be worth a shot.
  15. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    It's very weird.
    Last night when I first started it (just to see the leak again) it didn't leak again.
    After starting after a rest, it leaked like crazy again, coming out all around the seal.
    Then, after a while it stops.
    Very weird.
    This is a new cylinder, using supposedly good oil. Weird.
  16. bruce

    bruce Member

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    what kind of oil is in it? most require 10 weight oil or transmission fluid wich is in mine, heavy oil will blow seals i found that out
    read the napa oil,, nothing wrong with it just was to heavy for mine
  17. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Hey Bruce.
    This is the NAPA oil, part 85-401, that's supposed to be good for transmission too.
    It says it's a multi-viscosity oil and has a whole bunch of applications that it's qualified for.
    It's not like it's the middle of winter-it seems pretty 'runny' to me.
    The manufacturer does not supply much information with the splitter.
    A call to them regarding fluid before I got it indicated that just 'regular old hydraulic oil' (or something to that effect) would do the trick.
    What was the symptom when your seals blew out with the heavy oil?
  18. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I am not familiar with the NAPA tractor fluid but I have been running the universal Dexron III/Mercon automatic transmission fluid in my splitter for twenty years without so much as a seep. That is what Duerr recommended for it when I bought it.

    In fact Lowe's screwed up and filled that monster tank with the stuff for free when I bought the splitter. The tank on mine is over twice the size of the ones I see for sale these days. That manager was not a happy camper when I told him I wasn't paying for it, he could just syphon it back out. Which of course he didn't.
  19. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Yes, experimenting with oil could get expensive.
    I've used the splitter a bunch over the last couple of days.
    It leaks some and then stops-not gallons but annoying.
    I ordered a seal kit, but don't have any "mad hydraulic skills", so I'm putting it off and using it as it is for now.
    I've noticed that sometimes the handle doesn't lock right away on the return, so I have to hold it for a while and then it seems to "catch" and hold.

    I'm no expert, but I was expecting the oil to act like the brake fluid spill I had which dissolved the paint off the areas it touched.
    So far, the hydraulic/transmission oil hasn't seemed to have done this.
  20. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Just keep it off of your hands. I was an aviation crew member and later line chief in a Chinook helicopter company. The Chinook is a hydraulic water works. We found out the hard way that hydraulic fluid plays hell with your nervous system. We would get bathed in the stuff changing filters and afterwards go and chain smoke five cigarettes in a row and would bite the head off of anybody that got near us for an hour or two.
  21. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Yeah but that mil spec oil was outlawed about 10 years ago. It was very poular in waehousing dock levelers and there is probably millions of gallons of that out there in the field still....
    It was nasty stuff, probably the same stuff uncle rich was talking about
  22. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Glad to hear that.
  23. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    One of the things that Dexron is supposed to have in it is some stuff to make the seals swell just a tiny bit, with the intent of stopping leaks.

    I am NOT making guarantees, so this is a "try at your own risk" item, but I've heard that brake fluid will cause seals to swell if added to your hydraulic oil in SMALL amounts, approx 1/4 cup / gallon. Same thing with some of the "transmission fix" potions - look for one labeled safe for use in Dexron fluid transmissions (NOT Ford ATF fluid)

    The hazard in this is if you use to much, it can over swell the seals to the point where they pop out.

    Gooserider
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