The growing complexity of modern hydraulic equipment requires a thorough understanding of proactive maintenance to ensure optimal reliability. Unfortunately, this specialized knowledge often goes underappreciated in the marketplace. Despite my frequent objections, fault-finding has always been the most revered skill in the hydraulics field.

Regardless of opinions, the expert troubleshooter in Car Lift Repair Orlando, who can effortlessly diagnose a hydraulic system issue, is considered the “Top Gun” in the hydraulics world. This individual is a sought-after specialist, admired by some and envied by many.

Given the high demand for troubleshooting expertise, why do so many millwrights, mechanics, technicians, and engineers still rely on trial and error or hit-and-miss methods for problem-solving?

At the beginning of last year, a member of my Car Lift Repair Orlando Hydraulics Pro Club discussed troubleshooting with me, asserting that most mechanics and technicians will never become competent troubleshooters, regardless of their efforts, because they lack the inherent talent. He implied that troubleshooting couldn’t be taught, or at least not to everyone.

Initially, I disagreed with this viewpoint—that troubleshooting is an art mastered only by the naturally gifted. After reflecting on my own experiences and those of the technicians I’ve trained and supervised, I concluded that troubleshooting is indeed a learned skill.

Moreover, I believe that learning to troubleshoot effectively does not require special aptitude, like learning math or music. No mystical powers are necessary to become an expert troubleshooter.

In essence, anyone can learn the skill of troubleshooting if they are willing.

But what does it mean to be an expert troubleshooter? Contrary to popular belief, it has little to do with the ability to read a Car Lift Repair Orlando hydraulic schematic. While helpful, schematic reading is a secondary skill. My ability to read schematics hasn’t prevented me from making troubleshooting mistakes, and it doesn’t help when I’m troubleshooting non-hydraulic systems.

This is why the troubleshooting process and procedures I teach can be applied to any system, not just hydraulics. Troubleshooting is a universal skill.

For example, when my dog Spot fell ill after meals, I noticed her symptoms and suspected gluten intolerance. We tested this hypothesis by eliminating corn products from her diet, which immediately improved her condition. Although I’m not a doctor, the troubleshooting process I used was the same as I use for hydraulic systems. My ability to read a Car Lift Repair Orlando hydraulic schematic was not the key; my understanding of the troubleshooting process was.

Consider the medical profession for further evidence that system knowledge alone is not the key to effective troubleshooting. Despite their high qualifications, doctors often misdiagnose patients, leading to serious or even fatal consequences. These misdiagnoses are, in essence, troubleshooting mistakes.

One of our members reached out to me with the following issue:

“I wonder if you could help with a problem I’m having with my railroad club locomotive. It’s a 1/8th scale, gasoline-hydraulic driven unit. Until a few months ago, it could pull 10 heavy cars up a 2% grade without any issue.

Recently, however, the locomotive started making noises and jerky movements. I observed the three driven axles in the front and the three driven axles in the rear, and they both exhibited the same behavior.

When the locomotive was on level ground, there was no problem. But when pulling the 2% grade, the jerking began, and I noticed the Car Lift Repair Orlando hydraulic motor shafts (each driving a set of three axles via chains) did not turn smoothly, causing the jerking. I thought the hydraulic fluid might be low, so I checked the tank and found it nearly full, though I managed to add another gallon of hydraulic oil.

The locomotive was built and delivered in 2004, and the motors are low rpm, high torque types. No maintenance has been performed on them since manufacture, and the same goes for the pump. What are the possible failure modes of hydraulic motors and pumps that might help identify the most likely suspect? The motors are easy to remove and inspect, while accessing the pump is much more challenging.”

If you’d like a little challenge, pause here and consider the problem described above. Think about how you would advise this member to proceed, and why.

Ready? Good. Now read on…

Every troubleshooting task starts with a mix of information—some factual, some opinionated, some possibly incorrect. How you sift through and process this information determines the initial direction of your diagnosis. Doing this systematically is crucial for a fast and accurate diagnosis.

With this in mind, I’m not going to guess. Question #1 on this checklist asks: What conclusions can be drawn from the symptoms in relation to the physical laws of hydraulics? This prompts a review of chapter 1, which explains the seven physical laws relevant to troubleshooting.

From this review, the most logical conclusion is that the symptoms described (jerky, intermittent drive) are NOT typical of a standard hydraulic problem. While any fault is possible, probability is key in troubleshooting.

This leads to chapter 2, covering diagnostic tests. However, we’re not ready for diagnostic tests yet because we need to fully explore the suspicion that this is NOT a Car Lift Repair Orlando hydraulic problem.

So, I move on to question #3, which asks: Have you carefully considered and listed all the easy things to check? This leads to chapter 3, which lists 15 items to check before using any diagnostic tools. Number one on this list is: Level of oil in the tank, which our member has already checked.

Also on the list is: The coupling between the prime mover and pump; and between the motor and final drive. Based on the available information and my systematic processing of it, I advised him to check the mechanical coupling, key, sprocket, etc., between the Car Lift Repair Orlando hydraulic motors and wheels, and between the pump and engine, in that order.

Remember to always be safe out there when working with hydraulic systems. Be sure to consult the experts at Car Lift Repair Orlando if you have any questions at all.