The feeling of working outside is one-of-a-kind. You are working by the sweat of your brow, and there is often a timeless sense of purpose and pride in building or reshaping things with your hands. Tractors are great tools that aid us with outdoor endeavors, be they work-related or hobbies and other projects of passion.
Like your car or truck, tractors require basic maintenance, and knowing how to check and properly maintain the appropriate hydraulic fluid levels in your tractor is very important.
What is Hydrostatics?
Hydrostatics is the physics of dealing with fluids at rest, particularly with the pressure in a fluid or exerted by a fluid, usually in a closed system like a piston.
Hydrodynamics would be dealing with flowing fluids. The hydraulics in your John Deere tractor operate according to the principles of hydrostatics. The enormous pressures generated from having incompressible fluids, like water or oil, have a tremendous capacity to do work in a closed system. The brakes in your John Deere tractor, and your car, all use this principle.
Pressure systems, like hydraulics, are incredibly useful but can be very dangerous when improperly handled or serviced. Your tractor’s hydraulic cylinders that move the bucket or operate the backhoe need to be appropriately maintained. If not, they pose a real safety hazard and can result in expensive repairs.
Using the proper hydraulic equipment is a critical step in performing appropriate checks on your tractor. Before you trust random brands online, you should probably look to established professional brands like Kubota and John Deere – brands trusted by professionals who make their living using these tractors.
Why is hydraulic pressure important for tractors?
Having hydraulics allows your tractor to operate many different tools and have them be powered by the same engine. The diesel engine will power a pump to generate pressure to move the cylinders. With no pressure, you have no ability to work.
Standard tractor attachments like a backhoe or the bucket and blade all operate with hydraulics, and those cylinders you see expanding or contracting are pistons containing differing amounts of hydraulic fluid. If the lines containing the pressurized hydraulic fluid become too low, then you are at risk of a catastrophic failure.
Likewise, too much pressure can also burst the lines. A tractor is a complex machine, exactly like your car or truck. Unlike your car or truck, however, many systems use different hydraulic fluid-filled pressure systems to move tremendous loads.
Modern tractor designs can also feature a hydrostatic transmission, using pressurized hydraulic fluids instead of a traditional belt and gear transmission to transmit power from the engine. Offering many torque advantages, hydrostatic transmissions, like the pistons that power the backhoe or lift the bucket, need the hydraulic fluid to be absolutely clean. Filters need to be replaced or cleaned around every 500 work-hours, if not more frequently
What is a hydraulic pressure gauge?
The best tool you have to keep your tractor working is your hydraulic pressure gauge. It monitors the pressure in your lines.
Too little pressure and the cylinders will not move, and you could blow your pump. Too much pressure is equally bad for performance. Your tractor is designed to work best withinin a specific narrow range of pressures, using a special type of hydraulic fluid.
Never operate your tractor if your pressure gauge is not working! A system under high pressure is essentially a bomb waiting to blow. There is a lot of energy in a hydraulic system, and if it is charged too high, a structural defect somewhere can give way to explosive decompression, or an explosion!
However, your hydraulic pressure gauge is not a very smart tool, and despite it registering proper pressure, the cylinders might not be moving. More on this later.
There are many hydraulic fluids that serve different use-cases, but for tractors, you want a specific chemical composition and viscosity, or thickness of the hydraulic fluid. Viscosity is the term for resistance to flow. Compared to water, oil flows more slowly; thus, it is more viscous. Molasses is very viscous. It is essential only to use the proper hydraulic fluid in your tractor, or you risk premature wear and tear that will shorten the useful life of your tractor.
Kubota hydraulic pressure adjustment options
Hydraulic pressure test kits are an essential tool for tractor maintenance as well as an emergency repair. Specially designed for hydraulic fault-finding as well as reporting purposes, they check reliability, safety, and leak tightness of pressure systems like those on your tractor. These hydraulic pressure testers perform operational checks, including the ability to accurately assess:
- Oil flow
- Hydraulic fluid pressure
- Diagnose poorly operating parts
To operate one, disconnect the pressure line in question and connect it to the tester. It will diagnose issues that otherwise can go unnoticed.
Although expensive, the return on investment is significant. More so, if you use it as part of a warranty claim, helping you to replace faulty components, and avoid machine downtime and out-of-pocket expenses. Unlike your basic pressure gauge mentioned earlier, these hydraulic pressure testing kits give you an expert level diagnosis of common and uncommon faults with your tractor.
There are many hydraulic pressure adjustment options. Which one is best for you depends heavily on the use-case you have with your tractor. If you are a farmer or work in construction, then the ability to diagnose issues quickly is worth paying more money for a more professional-oriented kit with more components and the ability to diagnose problems across a wide pressure spectrum. For the home-gamer type, this type of kit may be overkill, and a cheaper kit with only a couple components is needed.
Regardless of the type of tester you have, repairing and replacing parts is not the same as diagnosing the issue. Unless you are a certified professional, it is strongly recommended that you do not perform certain repairs yourself. With pressure systems like hydraulics, a part that is improperly installed or is accidentally damaged when replacing another can create a dangerous feedback effect that could result in an accident.
Your tractor is likely a cherished possession. Whether you use it to mow your field, build homes, or farm the land, your tractor is a niche tool that most people will have no active need for. But, as any tractor owner will attest to, if the need for a tractor arises, they can in minutes to hours perform tasks that would require dozens to hundreds of man-hours of labor.
Therefore, it is imperative to make sure that your tractor is adequately maintained. The diesel engine is little different than other internal combustion engine machines you have used, but the hydraulics are a different beast entirely.
Pressurized systems like hydraulic cylinders are tremendously powerful, but if not properly maintained, they are a significant safety hazard. Knowing how to check the various hydraulic fluid levels in your tractor, be it John Deere, Kubota, or something else, is extremely important when it comes to ensuring your tractor is working properly and avoiding costly machine downtime for extensive repairs.
You need to be well qualified to repair your tractor, but every tractor owner and operator should know how to check the basic hydraulic fluid levels.