By Josh Cosford, Contributing Editor
When should I use a hydraulic hose reel?
You should use a hydraulic hose reel when your portable hydraulic tool or device operates at the end of a length of hose. Loose hose is unsafe, especially attached to what is likely a powerful actuator. The last thing any operator needs is to get wrapped up in a hose while operating a concrete saw, so keeping what may be a long hose safely tucked away in a hose reel only makes sense.
A hydraulic hose reel employs various retraction methods to coil your hose safely, after which it’s less likely to be tripped. It may use springs, air or even hydraulic motors to retract the hose in the protective reel. The added benefit of hose reels is their added protection to the hose itself. It’s much safer, cleaner and abrasion-free when tucked away neatly in a reel.
Does it matter what hydraulic hose I use in my hose reel?
The biggest mistake when selecting hydraulic hose for your reel is forgetting to factor bend radius. Depending on your reel’s diameter and design, the drum radius may be 3 in. (7.5 cm) or less. You must be sure the bend radius of your hose is smaller than the actual radius of your drum.
A stiff hose wrapped around a small drum is a recipe for rapid fatigue on the hose, especially with the reinforcement layer. A steel reinforcement, for example, will weaken and break over time, eventually allowing a blowout to occur. If you’re unsure, consult with your hydraulic hose partner to find the high flex hose suitable for your reel.
What type of rewind system should I choose for my hose reel?
Rewind systems may be manual (hand lever), spring retracted or powered. The powered retraction occurs using electric, air or hydraulic motors. You will choose your retraction method based on both your budget and application considerations. A manually retracted reel is the least expensive but will not be suitable for heavy-duty hydraulic hose running hundreds or thousands of feet long.
Your rewind method will also depend on your available source of energy; spring or electric systems are popular in industrial settings, while air and hydraulic often find themselves in mobile, off-shore and marine applications. Choose the system suitable to your environment, and also if you need a powered feed. Please note that hydraulic and electric rewinders are the most powerful, making them great for extended lengths of large diameter hose.
Where should I mount my hose reel?
You should mount your hose reel where it is both easy to access yet still out of the way. Some industrial or manufacturing applications see the reel used to mount high-powered tools, such as hydraulic torque wrenches, safely above the operator. The reel may also partially support such a tool, so construction will be robust and suited for the extra mass. The operator pulls down the tool, performs the operation, then initiates the retraction up and out of the way.
Other times require your hose reel to be in the most secure location possible, such as tucked inside a cabinet; think high-pressure hoses joining jaws of life to their power unit in fire trucks. Some hose reel applications are quite extreme and can only be mounted in one configuration. The umbilical reels used to power underwater robots use custom “hoses” to pass not only hydraulic fluid but electric current and possibly air. Mounted atop the deck of a ship, there is only one suitable location at the base of the crane.