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Hydraulic Motors

All types of hydraulic motors have these common design features: a driving surface area
subject to pressure differential; a way of timing the porting of pressure fluid to the pressure
surface to achieve continuous rotation; a mechanical connection between the surface area
and output shaft.
The ability of the pressure surfaces to withstand force, the leaage characteristics of each
type motor, and the efficiency of the method used to lin the pressure surface and output
shaft determine the ma!imum performance of a motor in terms of pressure, flow, tor"ue
output, speed, volumetric and mechanical efficiencies, service life, and physical
Motor Displacement
Motor displacement refers to the volume of fluid re"uired to turn the motor output shaft
through one revolution. The most common units of motor displacement are in in.# or cm#
per revolution.
$isplacement of hydraulic motors may be fi!ed or variable. A fi!ed%displacement motor
provides constant tor"ue. &peed is varied by controlling the amount of input flow into the
motor. A variable%displacement motor provides variable tor"ue and variable speed. 'ith
input flow and pressure constant, the tor"ue speed ratio can be varied to meet load
re"uirements by varying the displacement.
Torque Output
Tor"ue output is e!pressed in%inch pounds or foot%pounds, and is a function of system
pressure and motor displacement. Motor tor"ue ratings usually are given for a specific
pressure drop across the motor. Theoretical figures indicate the tor"ue available at the
motor shaft assuming no mechanical losses.
Breakaway Torque
Tor"ue re"uired to get a stationary load turning is referred to as breaaway tor"ue. More
tor"ue is re"uired to start a load moving than to eep it moving (static vs. inetic friction).
Running Torque
Two definitions e!ist for running tor"ue depending whether the load or motor is being
referenced. 'hen it refers to a load, it indicates the tor"ue re"uired to eep the load
turning. 'hen it refers to the motor, running tor"ue indicates, the actual tor"ue which a
motor can develop to eep a load turning. *unning tor"ue considers a motor+s inefficiency
and is a percentage of its theoretical tor"ue. The running tor"ue of common gear, vane,
and piston motors is appro!imately ,-. of theoretical.
Starting Torque
The capacity of a hydraulic motor to start a load is referred to starting tor"ue. /t indicates
the amount of tor"ue which a motor can develop to start a load turning. /n some cases,
this is considerably less than the motor+s running tor"ue. &tarting tor"ue also can be
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e!pressed as a percentage of theoretical tor"ue. &tarting tor"ue for common gear, vane,
and piston motors ranges between 5-. and 6-. of theoretical.
Mechanical Efficiency is the ratio of actual tor"ue delivered to theoretical tor"ue.
Torque Ripple is the difference between minimum and ma!imum tor"ue delivered at a
given pressure during one revolution of the motor.
Motor Speed is a function of motor displacement and the volume of fluid delivered to the
Maximum Motor Speed is the speed at a specific inlet pressure which the motor can
sustain for a limited time without damage.
Minimum Motor Speed is the slowest, continuous, uninterrupted rotational speed
available from the motor output shaft.
Slippage is the leaage through the motor7or fluid that passes through the motor without
performing wor.
ear Motors
0!ternal gear motors, 8raphic 2, consist of a pair of matched gears enclosed in one
housing. 9oth gears have the same tooth form and are driven by pressure fluid. :ne gear
is connected to an output shaft; the other is an idler. ;ressure fluid enters the housing at a
point where the gears mesh. /t forces the gears to rotate, and follows the path of least
resistance around the periphery of the housing. The fluid e!ists at low pressure at the
opposite side of the motor.
1lose tolerances between gears and housing help control fluid leaage and increase
volumetric efficiency. 'ear plates on the sides of the gears eep the gears from moving
a!ially and help control leaage.
raphic !"
External gear motors ha#e one
dri#en gear and one idler gear
enclosed in single housing"
Output torque is a function of
pressure on one tooth $ecause
pressure on other teeth is in
hydraulic $alance"
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%nternal ear Motors
/nternal gear motors fall into two categories. A direct%drive gear motor consists of an inner%
outer gear set and an output shaft, 8raphic <. The inner gear has one less tooth than the
outer. The shape of the teeth is such that all teeth of the inner gear are in contact with
some portion of the outer gear at all times. 'hen pressure fluid is introduced into the
motor, both gears rotate. The motor housing has an integral idney%shaped inlet and outlet
ports. The centers of rotation of the two gears are separated by a given amount nown as
the eccentricity. The center of the inner gear coincides with the center of the output shaft.
/n 8raphic < (a), pressure fluid enters the motor through the inlet port. 9ecause the inner
gear has one less tooth than the outer, a pocet is formed between the inner teeth = and 2,
and other socet A. The idney%shaped inlet port is design so that just as this pocets
volume reaches its ma!imum, fluid flow is shut off, with the tips of inner gear teeth = and 2
providing a seal, 8raphic <(b).
As the pair of inner and outer gears continues to rotate, 8raphic <(c), a new pocet is
formed between inner teeth = and 4, and outer socet 8. Meanwhile the pocet formed
between inner teeth = and 2 and outer socet A has moved around opposite the idney%
shaped outlet port, steadily draining as the volume of the pocet decreases. The gradual,
metered volume change of the pocets provides smooth, uniform fluid flow with a minimum
of pressure variation (or ripple).
9ecause of the e!tra tooth in the outer gear, the inner gear teeth move ahead of the outer
by one tooth per revolution. /n 8raphic <(c), inner tooth > is seated in outer socet E. :n
the ne!t cycle, inner tooth > will seat in outer socet ?. This produces a low relative
differential speed between the gears.
Or$iting erotor Motor
An orbiting 8erotor motor, 8raphic #, consists of a set of matched gears, a coupling, an
output shaft, and commutator or valve plate. The stationary outer gear has one more tooth
than the rotating inner gear. The commutator turns at the same rate as the inner gear and
always provides pressure fluid and a passageway to tan to the proper spaces between
the two gears.
/n operation, 8raphic #(a), tooth 2 of the inner gear is aligned e!actly in socet D of the
outer gear. ;oint y is the center of the stationary gear, and point ! is the center of the
rotor. /f there were no fluid, the rotor would be free to pivot about socet D in either
direction. /t could move toward seating tooth < in socet E or conversely, toward seating
tooth = in socet J.
'hen pressure fluid flows into the lower half of the volume between the inner and outer
gears, if a passageway to tan is provided for the upper%half volume between the inner and
outer gears, a moment is induced which rotates the inner gear counterclocwise and starts
to seat tooth < in socet E. Tooth >, at the instant shown in 8raphic #(a), provides a seal
between pressure and return fluid.
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However, as rotation continues, the locus of point x is clockwise. As each succeeding
tooth of the rotor seats in its socet, 8raphic #(b), the tooth directly opposite on the rotor
from the seated tooth becomes the seal between pressure and return fluid. The
pressuri@ed fluid continues to force the rotor to mesh in a clocwise direction while it turns
9ecause of the one e!tra socet in the fi!ed gear, the ne!t time tooth 2 seats, it will be in
socet J. At that point, the shaft has turned 235

of a revolution, and point ! has moved =35
of its full circle. /n 8raphic #(c), tooth < has mated with socet D, and point x has again
become aligned between socet D and point y, indicating that the rotor has made one full
revolution inside of the outer gear. Tooth 2 has moved through an angle of =- from its
original in 8raphic #(a); >< (or =!5) tooth engagements or fluids cycles would be needed
for the shaft to complete one revolution.
The commutator or valve plate, shown in 8raphic #(d), (e), and (f), contains pressure and
tan passages for each tooth of the rotor. The passages are spaced so they do not
provide for pressure or return flow to the appropriate port as a tooth seats in its socet. At
all other times, the passages are bloced or are providing pressure fluid or a tan passage
in the appropriate half of the motor between gears.
Roller&'ane erotor Motor
A roller%vane 8erotor motor, 8raphic >, is a variation of the orbiting gerotor motor. /t has a
stationary ring gear (or stator) and a moving planet gear (or rotor). /nstead of being held
by two journal bearings, the eccentric arm of the planetary is held by meshing of the =
tooth rotor and the 5 tooth socet stator. /nstead of direct contact between the stator and
rotor, roller vanes reduce wear, enabling the motors to be use in closed%loop, high
pressure hydrostatic circuits as direct%mounted wheel drives.
'ane Motors
Aane motor, 8raphic 4, have a slotted rotor mounted on a drive shaft that is driven by the
rotor. Aanes, closely fitted into the rotor slots, move radially to seal against the cam ring.
The ring has two major and two minor radial sections joined by transitional sections or
ramps. These contours and the pressures introduced to them are balanced diametrically.
/n some designs, light springs force the vanes radially against the cam contour to assure a
seal at @ero speed so the motor can develop starting tor"ue. The springs are assisted by
angular momentum at higher speeds. *adial grooves and holes through the vanes
e"uali@e radial hydraulic forces on the vanes at all times.
;ressure fluid enters and leaves the motor housing through openings in the side plates at
the ramps. ;ressure fluid entering at the inlet ports moves the rotor counterclocwise.
The rotor transports the fluid to the ramp openings at the outlet ports to return to tan. /f
pressure were introduced at the outlet ports, it would turn the motor clocwise.
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The rotor is separated a!ially from the side plate surfaces by the fluid film. The front side
plate is clamped against the cam ring by pressure and maintains optimum clearances as
temperature and pressure change dimensions.
Aane motors provide good operating efficiencies, but not as high as those of piston motors.
However, vane motors generally cost less than piston motors of corresponding horsepower
The service life of a vane motor usually is shorter than that of a piston motor. Aane motors
are available with displacements of <- in.
3rev; some low%speed3high%tor"ue models come
with displacements to 54= in.
3rev. 0!cept for the high%displacement, low%speed models,
vane motors have limited low%speed capability.
(iston&Type Motors
*adial%;iston Motors, 8raphic =, have a cylinder barrel attached to a driven shaft; the
barrel contains a number of pistons that reciprocate in radial bores. The outer piston ends
bear against a thrust ring. ;ressure fluid flows through a pintle in the center of the cylinder
barrel to drive the pistons outward.
The pistons push against the thrust ring and the reaction forces rotate the barrel.
Motor displacement is varied by shifting the slide bloc laterally to change the piston
stroe. 'hen the centerlines of the cylinder barrel and housing coincide, there is no fluid
flow and therefore the cylinder barrel stops. Moving the slide past center reverses
direction of motor rotation.
*adial piston motors are very efficient. Although the high degree of precision re"uired in
the manufacture of radial piston motors raises initial costs, they generally have a long life.
They provide high tor"ue at relatively low shaft speeds and e!cellent low speed operation
with high efficiency; they have limited high speed capabilities. *adial piston motors have
displacements to 2--- in.
A!ial%piston motors also use the reciprocating piston motion principle to rotate the output
shaft, but motion is a!ial, rather than radial. Their efficiency characteristics are similar to
those of radial%piston motors. /nitally, a!ial%piston motors cost more than vane or gear
motors of comparable horsepower, and have a long operating life. 9ecause of this, their
higher initial cost may not truly reflect the e!pected overall costs during the life of a piece
of e"uipment.
/n general, a!ial%piston motors have e!cellent high speed capabilities, but unlie radial%
piston motors, they are limited at low operating speeds; the inline type will operate down to
2--rpm and the bent%a!is type will give output down to the >%rpm range. A!ial piston
motors are available with displacements from a fraction to =4 in.
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%nline&(iston Motors
/nline%piston motors, 8raphic 5, generate tor"ue through pressure e!erted on the ends of
pistons which reciprocate in a cylinder bloc. /n the inline design, the motor drive%shaft
and cylinder bloc are centered on the same a!is. ;ressure at the ends of the pistons
causes a reaction against a tilted swashplate and rotates the cylinder bloc and motor
shaft. Tor"ue is proportional to the area of the pistons and is a function of the angle at
which the swashplate is positioned.
The motors are built in fi!ed%and variable%displacement models. The swashplate angle
determines motor displacement. /n the variable model, the swashplate is mounted in a
swinging yoe, and the angle can be changed by various means7ranging from a simple
lever or hand%wheel to sophisticated servo controls. /ncreasing the swashplate angle
increases the tor"ue capacity but reduces drive shaft speed. 1onversely, reducing the
angle reduces the tor"ue capacity but increases drive shaft speeds (unless fluid pressure
decreases). Angle stops are included so that tor"ue and speed stay within operating
A compensator varies motor displacement in response to changes in the wor load. A
spring%loaded piston is connected to the yoe and moves it in response to variations in
operating pressure. Any load increase is accompanied by a corresponding pressure
increase as a result of the additional tor"ue re"uirements. The control then automatically
adjusts the yoe so that tor"ue increases when the load is light. /deally, the compensator
regulates displacement for ma!imum performance under all load conditions up to relief
valve setting.
Bent&)xis (iston Motors
9ent%a!is piston motors, 8raphic 6, develop tor"ue through a reaction to pressure on
reciprocating pistons. /n this design, the cylinder bloc and drive shaft are mounted at an
angle to each other; the reaction is against the drive%shaft flange.
&peed and tor"ue change with changes in the angle7from a predetermined minimum
speed with a ma!imum displacement and tor"ue at an angle of appro!imately #-B to a
ma!imum speed with a minimum displacement and tor"ue at about 523<B. 9oth fi!ed%and
variable%displacement models are available.
Selecting a *ydraulic Motor
The application of the hydraulic motor generally dictates the re"uired horsepower and
motor speed range, although the actual speed and tor"ue re"uired may sometimes be
varied while maintaining the re"uired horsepower. The type of motor selected depends on
the re"uired reliability, life and performance.
:nce the type of motor is determined, the selection of actual si@e is based on the e!pected
life and the economics of the overall installation on the machine.
A fluid motor operating at less than rated capacity will provide a service life e!tension more
than proportional to the reduction in operation below the rated capacity.
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The ma!imum horsepower produce by a motor is reached when operating at the ma!imum
system pressure and at the ma!imum shaft speed. /f the motor is always to be operated
under these conditions, its initial cost will be lowest. However, where output speed must
be reduced, the overall cost of the motor with speed reduction must be considered7to
optimi@e the overall drive installation costs.
&i@ing Hydraulic Motors
As an e!ample of how to calculate hydraulic motor si@e to match an application, consider
the following: an application calls for 4hp at #,--- rpm, with an available supply pressure
of #,--- psi, and return line pressure of 2-- psi; the pressure differential is <,,-- psi.
The theoretical tor"ue re"uired is calculated from
T C (=#,-<4< ! horsepower)3D
T is tor"ue, lb%in., and
D is speed, rpm
?or the condition T C 2-4 lb%in., motor displacement is calculated as:
D C <E T F G;e
D is displacement, in.
GP is pressure differential, psi, and
is mechanical efficiency, .
/f mechanical efficiency is 66.,
Then D is -.<46 in.
1alculating the re"uired flow:
H C DN3<#2e
H is flow, gpm, and
is volumetric efficiency is ,#., then
Q is #.= gpm.
;ressure in these e"uations is the difference between inlet and outlet pressure. 9ecause
of this, any pressure at the outlet port reduces tor"ue output of the fluid motor.
The efficiency factor for most motors will be fairly constant when operating from half to full
rated pressure, and over the middle portion of the rated speed range. As speed nears
either e!treme, efficiency decreases.
Iower operating pressures result in lower overall efficiencies because of fi!ed internal
rotating losses that are characteristic of any fluid motor. *educing displacement from
ma!imum in variable%displacement motors also reduces the overall efficiency.
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*ydraulic Motor Malfunctions
The majority of motor problems fall into these categories:
%mproper fluid7The motor is no different than any other of the components of the
hydraulic system7it must have clean fluid, in ade"uate supply, and of the proper "uality
and viscosity.
(oor Maintenance7A poor maintenance program runs a close second in the cause of
major problems. Typical slips in the program include:
?ailure to chec and repair lines and connections to stop leas; faulty connections
can allow dirt and air into the system, lower pressure, and cause erratic operation.
?ailure to install motor correctly. Motor shaft misalignment can cause bearing wear
which can lead to lost efficiency. A misaligned shaft also can reduce tor"ue,
increase friction drag and heating, and also result in shaft failure.
?ailure to find the cause of a motor malfunction. /f a motor fails, always loo for the
cause of the failure. :bviously, if the cause is not corrected, failure will recur.
/mproper :peration70!ceeding a motor+s operating limits promotes motor failure. 0very
motor has design limitations on pressure, speed, tor"ue, displacement, load and
temperature. 0!cessive pressure can generate heat because of motor slippage, and can
cause the motor to e!ceed tor"ue limits. 0!cessive speed can cause heating and can
cause wear of bearings and other internal parts.
0!cessive tor"ue can cause fatigue and stress to bearings and the motor shaft, especially
on applications that re"uire fre"uent motor reversing. 0!cessive load can create bearing
and shaft fatigue. And finally, e!cessive temperature can cause loss of efficiency because
oil becomes thinner, and can produce rapid wear due to lac of lubrication.
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