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Field Testing of a Closed loop Pump

When a hydraulic "repairman" comes to the critical point in his career, where he begins to consider the use of a flow meter as something useful and necessary rather than a back-breaking burden, he automatically evolves from a "grease monkey" to a "technician". It is from that point on that he starts to carry that turbine and the needle valve everywhere he goes, and pump tests make more and more sense. In my early hydraulics years, every time I had to "apply" the stupid turbine, as I used to call it, I was imagining all the hard work the thrilling operation would give and all the oil my poor self would have to soak. With practice came experience, and now I know for a fact, that "avoiding" the use of a flow meter when troubleshooting complex hydraulic systems is like avoiding the use of an x-ray machine when treating a broken leg. I am not saying it's an easy or pleasant procedure, I'm saying that it should not be considered as something "extra". Flowmeters are widely used to test hydraulic pumps "in the field", as the pump is usually the suspect number one when loss of pressure force speed is detected. !he best way to take it out of the troubleshooting e"uation, is through flow-testing under load, typically with the help of a needle valve to induce pressure. In most cases the time you spend to install the test gear is less than the time you would waste wondering around the machine and guessing what might be wrong without being sure the main pump is #$. %ince the pressure is induced by flow restriction, &'' of the input energy is transformed into heat during such tests. !his oil super-heating can be, generally, overlooked when you test an open loop pump, especially in systems with large oil tanks, as normally the time necessary to test the pump and make all the necessary ad(ustments is not enough to raise the oil temperature to unsafe levels. )ut what about closed loops* When you need to "field-test" a closed loop pump you, obviously, need to create a closed loop. In most circuits the loop flushing system will be placed inside the motor you've (ust disconnected, which means that when you start restricting the loop flow with the needle valve, it will be, basically the same very reduced amount of oil +minus the leakage, of course, going over and over around the loop, and which you will be superheating with your needle valve. -ust as an example, imagine that you have .// lpm +around 01 gallons per minute, flow in the loop, and the pump test pressure is, say, 21/ bars. !he power transformed into heat will be 21/3.// 4//5 61 $W. 'et us say you've used around 2 meters of a one inch hose to create the loop. &long with the flow-meter, the whole loop will hold (ust around five liters of oil. 7an you imagine how fast the temperature will climb when you are heating five liters of oil with a 61 $W heater? +8idn't count the heat taken away with the leakage flow, but the point remains the same - the loop over-heats fast!,9 I personally have witnessed water boil on test fittings after only a minute long tests. &lthough it is possible to test closed circuit pumps in this simplified manner, it is far from being perfect, as you are forced to make tests and ad(ustments in a "lightning fast" fasion, and also have to wait for some time in between the "test bursts" for the loop to cool down, unless, of course, your goal is to deliberately bust the pump. !he risk of

severe oil-overheating with all of the conse"uences will always be present. !his is (ust an example of such a test I made a few years ago. It went well, but I had to wait for fifteen minutes in between the tests to cool the hoses down. :ive me a call if you read this, -ames +-ames is the rig's owner I lost contact with,.

!he best course of action for closed loop pump field testing is to use a calibrated pressure compensated flow controller, connected after the needle valve, that diverts controlled part of the loop oil to tank +schematics ,. !here are two main advantages in this layout9 First one, of course, is the fact that the oil will not overheat so fast, allowing you to make more extensive tests and ad(ustments. !he second advantage is less obvious9

!hink a little about a closed loop function - as you know, the charge pump must provide enough flow to compensate for the internal leakage of both the pump and the motor. When you are testing your closed loop pump with a simple loop, you take the motor leakage out of the e"uation, which, in cases of marginal efficiencies, can make all the difference between stamping the pump as "good" or "bad". ;sing a calibrated flow control valve to vent controlled part of the loop oil to tank is the perfect way to simulate the motor's internal leakage, thus making the test more reliable. <ote that it is important to use a calibrated flow controller, to have an idea about the flow you are "stealing" from the loop. !he one I use the most has almost linear characteristics, giving approximately = liters per minute per turn, =/ liters per minute maximum flow. &ll I have to do is count the turns and multiply them by three lpms9 !his techni"ue also allows you to evaluate roughly, when needed, the maximum amount of leakage the given pump can take, as you can easily detect the point when the charge pressure drops. #r, if you know the charge pump flow, you can estimate the pump's internal leakage, again by noticing the exact "stolen flow" rate at the moment when charge pressure drops, and subtracting it from the charge pump flow. If you don't know the charge pump flow, you can estimate it by noticing the "leak" flow when the charge pressure drops, with the main pump at >ero displacement. If you know the rpms, you can estimate the charge pump si>e, the list goes on99. !his is why using a flow regulator is better than using a flushing relief valve. !his is a picture of a closed loop pump field test I made (ust a few days ago. It was a large and old &2?01/, working at =1/ bars and a thousand and something rpms, I still used my old =/ liter regulator, but I had to open it all the way. @ou can see from the picture that the loop hoses I used were "uite short, yet I was able to test and ad(ust the pump +both pressure limiters and the cut off, without stopping, and the temperature inside the loop never rose over 6/ 7!

If you understand how it works, this techni"ue is very easy to apply and doesn't re"uire much investment, providing more complete test results and facilitating the ad(ustments. A9%. Alease do not laugh at the flow meter from the pictures, despite the looks and age it is still "uite accurate and can tell lots and lots of field stories99.