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Basic Hydraulics

Course Number: RET 120
Transcript Title: Basic Hydraulics
Created: March 15, 2012
Updated: December 19, 2014
Total Credits: 5
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 30
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: No
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:


RET 121

Course Description

Students learn fundamental concepts of hydraulics, lubrication, and bearing technology with a focus on entering a profession in the wind power industry. Lab work includes learning and applying hydraulic concepts using an MB 400 Hydraulic System. Pre-requisites: RET 121

Intended Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. Build and maintain mechanical and electrical equipment.
  2. Identify and troubleshoot hydraulic system problems.
  3. Adapt to new relevant skills as hydraulic technology develops.
  4. Be prepared to work both alone and in a team on a hydraulic project.
  5. Be prepared to work safely and maintain a safe working environment using established practices.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Evaluation is done by midterm and final exams, quality of lab work, and quality of a term project.

Texts and Materials

  • Mott, Robert L., 2006, Applied Fluid Mechanics, 6th Edition. Merrill Publishing Co., Columbus, OH.
  • Smith, Jamie C., Ed., 2004, Fundamentals of Technology: Principles of Hydraulics. MB 400 Manual, 3rd Edition. TII Technical Education Systems, Mundelein, IL

Course Activities and Design

Lab Equipment:

MB 400 Hydraulics System and Laboratory Manual, produced by TII Technical Educational Systems

Topics Covered in Lab:

  • Identifying the components of the MB 400 Hydraulic System.
  • Safety practices for the hydraulics laboratory.
  • Identifying the major parts of a hydraulic fluid supply system and their functions.
  • Hydraulic circuits.
  • How fluid flows from a reservoir to the hydraulic circuit.
  • Basic properties of fluids.
  • Identifying common hydraulic fluid contaminants.
  • Operation of a filter and strainer.
  • Types, operation, and application of hydraulic pumps.
  • Operation and functions of pressure regulators and pressure relief valves.
  • Difference(s) between normally open and normally closed hydraulic components.
  • Using a pressure regulator to control system fluid pressure.
  • Identifying and describing the operation and function of manual directional control valves, check valves, needle valves, hydraulic cylinders, hydraulic flow control valves, paired cylinders, hydraulic presses, hydraulic jacks, and hydraulic positioners.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Definitions of force, weight, mass, inertia, kinetic and potential energy, work, power, horsepower, pressure (both fluid and pneumatic), and resistance.
  • Friction
    • Static, dynamic, coefficient of friction, frictional force, and cleanliness.
    • Friction as resistance.
    • Friction of smooth surfaces.
    • Friction of rough surfaces.
  • Tribology
    • Lubrication definitions
      • Asperities
      • Laws of friction
      • Wear
      • Abrasion
      • Adhesive wear
      • Corrosion
      • Viscosity index of oils
      • Difference between mineral and synthetic oil
      • Base oil and additives
      • Grease and thickeners
    • Terminology of filtration and lubrication.
    • Types of lubrication
      • Hydrodynamic
      • Elasto-hydrodynamic
    • Summary of lube regimes and the Stribeck curve.
      • Applying the above knowledge to the Stribeck curve.
      • Coefficient of friction versus lube thickness
        • Boundary coefficient of friction.
        • Hydrodynamic coefficient of friction.
        • Elasto-hydrodynamic coefficient.
        • Boundary lube.
        • Application to turbines.
  • Heat, temperature, atoms, and molecules. Properties of gases and liquids. The Gas Law.
  • Definition of viscosity, viscosity of different fluids, viscosity versus temperature, mechanics of viscosity at the molecular level, effects of pressure on viscosity, and viscosity versus fluid, film, and flow regimes. Effect of viscosity on hydrodynamic lubrication.
  • Fluid transmission of force and energy; types of pressure gauges and associated methods of measurement, hydraulic intensifiers, and hydraulic accumulators.
  • Types of pumps (including rotary displacement pumps), theory of operation, friction versus heat, change in direction versus heat, and pressure differential.
  • Piping and tubing.
  • Filters, LO systems, and grease systems.
  • Care, maintenance, and attention of lube systems.
  • Supporting fluid mechanical and math concepts for calculating pressure, horsepower, pressure drop, fluid viscosities, and velocities, and other parameters necessary for the understanding and efficient operation of hydraulic pumps, motors, and hydraulic systems.
  • Hydraulic symbols: tribological, lubrication, and filtration terminology; and nomenclature and purpose of hydraulic components.
  • Petroleum-based and other hydraulic fluids, their use in transmitting energy from pump to destination, and properties as lubricants.
  • Greases
  • Oil properties and selection.
  • Oil additives
    • Problems
      • Anti-wear additives
        • Temperature breakdown.
        • Pressure additives.
        • Air-oil mix - oxidation by-products.
        • Faster oxidation at high temperatures.
        • Water effects - high temperature from compressed air at pump outlet.
        • Varnish, sludge, and varnish as a result of resin formation in oil.
      • Rust and corrosion
        • Acidic products of oil oxidation.
        • Metal erosion and dissolution resulting from corrosion.
        • Increased surface tolerance problems from rusting.
      • Rust and oxidation inhibitors
        • Chemical compounds that bond with metal surfaces and inhibit rust formation.
        • Oxidation inhibitors in oil to inhibit oxidation chains of reaction.
        • Removal of air bubbles.
        • Additives in turbine quality hydraulic fluids.
  • Dirt and other contaminants
    • Water, air and dirt
    • Problems with dirt
      • Insoluble
      • Sources of dirt
      • Solutions for dirt
      • Methods of inspection
  • Reservoir cleanliness.
  • Safety practices associated with the various pieces of equipment used in the lab relevant to field work.