Hydraulic cylinder manufacturer Texas Hydraulics, parent company of Hydromotion Inc., acquired Oilgear last year. Melding different companies quite often produces less-than stellar results, but this transition has gone quite well, according to John Tudor, director of strategy and new product development at Oilgear. That’s primarily because all three companies have significant design and engineering capabilities with a commitment to quality, durability and performance in mission-critical applications, he said.
Oilgear, for example, is a leading provider of world-class hydraulic pumps, valves and engineering systems for the most rugged, heavy duty applications in the industrial, oil and gas, and mobile equipment markets, said Tudor. We take on the toughest challenges, often operating in the harshest environments, where systems just can’t fail. “You don’t want people getting hurt. Downtime is one thing, but safety is quite another.”
Founded in 1921, the Traverse City, Mich.-based company has a long tradition of bringing advanced engineered solutions to its customers. “Our engineering team has a lot of energy and loves to solve problems for our customers,” said Tudor. He referred to a the company’s web site, where one Oilgear engineer explained, “The more complicated the problem is, the more times it is said it can’t be done, the more times it hasn’t been done, the more interest there is to solve it.” Another added, “We’re making groundbreaking technology moves, things that other companies just aren’t doing and don’t have the capabilities to do.”
The company’s U.S.-made pumps and valves are used on everything from the world’s largest hydraulic presses, found in China, to space vehicle launch pads, automotive crash-test machines and nuclear submarines. “It all falls back to that durability story: it just can’t fail,” said Tudor.
For instance, Oilgear D Type pumps are legendary, he said. “Anyone familiar with pumping technology knows D pumps just run forever in the field.” He cited two recent examples where company engineers were routinely checking on legacy installations. In one, pumps that were commissioned in a lock and dam in Iowa in 1964 are still running trouble-free today. In another, an Oilgear D pump was installed 20 years ago inside a Pennsylvania extrusion press and it has operated without issue ever since. The company’s current maintenance staff was unaware that it even existed.
While these products are extremely robust and made to last, the company recommends, when appropriate, that older D Type pumps be replaced by the current PVV pump line. Like other Oilgear pumps the units are reportedly some of the most rugged, longest lasting variable-displacement pumps on the market.
The most distinguishing attribute of these pumps is the patented “hard-on-hard” technology for the rotating group, in which the running surfaces exceed Rockwell 65 hardness. The proprietary design permits a greater resistance to contaminants and higher operating pressures, along with the ability to work with low viscosity fluids such as high-water-content and fire-resistant fluids.
And unlike many competing products, Oilgear pumps are not limited by bearing life. Typical axial-piston pumps rely on load-carrying, mechanical bearings to support the shaft and rotating group. Oilgear pumps, however, use a hydrodynamic bearing. The cylinder barrel rides on a thin film of oil, and the hydrodynamic bearing has no moving parts to wear out, which enables virtually infinite bearing life.
Because the hydrodynamic bearing, not a shaft bearing, supports the load, this allows for a sealed front shaft bearing. Advantages of this design approach include easy maintenance of the shaft and shaft seal, quick conversions from keyed to splined connections, and the capability of being belt driven.
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