The Difference Between Hydraulic Cylinder Rebuild & Hydraulic Cylinder Repair

In this article, we explain the difference between a hydraulic cylinder repair versus a hydraulic cylinder rebuild. When hydraulic cylinders fail from physical defects they may require extensive repairs or rebuilds. It is a common misconception that hydraulic cylinder repair and hydraulic cylinder rebuild comes down to the same thing.

Hydraulic cylinder repair is the more economical solution where parts are not replaced. Hydraulic cylinder rebuild entails replacing components that fall outside of the original OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specification. With our many years of experience in the field of rebuilding or repairing hydraulic cylinders, Kappa Engineering believes that we will guide you to understand both in this article.

What happens to a cylinder that leaves it in need of a repair or a rebuild?

The two most common reasons why cylinders fail are physical damage and the deterioration and failure of seals. Any external forces such as an object falling on the hydraulic cylinder or a collision with another piece of machinery can be the source of physical damage.

This could cause the rod to bend or create a dent in the barrel. Other physical damage could occur if the cylinder is misaligned. Misalignment could cause extensive damage to the whole cylinder. Seals wear over time and they deteriorate. Contaminants in the oil speed up the wear and tear of seals.

Needless to say, once the cylinder has been damaged and rendered inoperable, you will be faced with 1 of three options:

  1. Buy a new hydraulic cylinder from an OEM or a suitable replacement part.
  2. Rebuild the hydraulic cylinder (Reasonable pricing)
  3. Repair the hydraulic cylinder (Budget option)

Hydraulic Cylinder Rebuild

To have your hydraulic cylinder rebuilt might be more expensive than a repair, but this way the cylinder is repaired to OEM specification. The broken parts will be remanufactured and the cylinder will be rebuilt. Rebuilding the components will require the cylinder to be re-tested to make sure it is up to OEM specification and that partly contributes to why a hydraulic cylinder rebuild is more expensive than a hydraulic cylinder repair.

rebuild (v.)

  1. 1600 (implied in rebuilding), from re- “back, again” + build (v.). Related: Rebuilt.

When a hydraulic cylinder is rebuilt, the hydraulic cylinder is stripped down to its component parts. The reason for failure is determined, and the components that have failed are identified. The broken components will then be replaced with new components that are either directly from the OEM or are remanufactured to be a functionally suitable replacement part that conforms to OEM specification.

The hydraulic cylinder rebuild or the remanufacturing of the components in a cylinder can be divided into two categories:

  1. Manufacturing existing components of the cylinder to replace damaged parts.
  2. Improving the engineering of the components in the cylinder to “upgrade” the OEM hydraulic cylinder to improve the performance of the OEM system.

Manufacturing the existing components will restore the components as they were originally and this will ensure the cylinder complies with OEM specifications. Improved engineering is when the parts are re-engineered and the components are improved upon. This will require a new design and will thus make the hydraulic cylinder a custom cylinder.

Hydraulic Cylinder Repair

Repairing a hydraulic cylinder is a more economical approach to fixing a broken cylinder, but a repair comes with the consequence that the cylinder will no longer conform to OEM specification. That means your hydraulic cylinder will no longer have the exact same dimensions as it did when it was first produced by the manufacturer and is now considered a custom cylinder.

One type of hydraulic cylinder repair is performed by honing the inside of the barrel to remove scratches and score marks. The inside surface of the barrel is honed until it is smooth and concentric. The honing process removes a layer of the inside material surface of the hydraulic cylinder barrel meaning it no longer conforms to the original OEM specification.

Honing the inside surface will result in the inside diameter being larger due to the removal of the material to clear out the scratches and score marks. This means the original piston and end caps will no longer fit tightly inside the barrel. The piston and end caps are remade to fit in the new specification and modified to fit the new dimensions after this type of repair.

Hydraulic cylinder repair is basically taking the old or failed component and fixing it so that it is as close to the original shape and size that it was. In theory, all components in a cylinder can be repaired to a state where it can function but there are times when components cannot be restored to their full capacity by repairing it. If that is the case you need to consider a hydraulic cylinder rebuild or purchasing a new cylinder.

Hydraulic Cylinder Repair & Hydraulic Cylinder Rebuild That You Can Depend On

The need for repairs or rebuilds of hydraulic cylinders can cause downtime and lost efficiency especially when they are caused by poorly maintained hydraulic cylinders. This downtime can add up quickly and it can have a huge impact on your profitability. Kappa Engineering offers quick and efficient turnaround times, repairing or rebuilding your hydraulic cylinders to get them back to you in the shortest amount of time. 

We are familiar with all of the common causes of hydraulic cylinder failure. If you are still unsure whether you need a hydraulic cylinder rebuild or repair contact us today and we will advise you on the best solution.

Visit our repairs page where you can request a quote.

Hydraulic Cylinder Rebuild

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