Here’s a tragic story from one of our members:

“I have a problem with a mini excavator (Komatsu PC60/7). Here’s an overview of events so far:

1. The hydraulic pump was lugging down the engine when attempting to operate most of the functions.

2. We had a team of hydraulics guys out who said it is a problem with the engine.

3. A diesel mechanic came out and said it is a hydraulics problem.

4. We had another hydraulic guy come out and he said the pump needs to be overhauled. Then we hear from him that he is unable to repair the pump and will quote us for a new replacement, ex China.

5. We then took the existing pump, in pieces, to another hydraulics guy who said he can repair it at a reasonable cost. We gave him the go ahead. The same hydraulics guy bench tested the pump in my presence up to 400 bar.

6. We then reinstalled the pump on the machine and are now not getting any functions. We were then told that it could be a valve bank problem.

7. We have stripped the two valve banks about 8 times on instructions from quite a few other hydraulic experts but to no avail.

We have now come to the end of our tether and are at our wits end because we haven’t the faintest clue what to try next.”

This situation is instructive in what NOT to do when troubleshooting.

Firstly, troubleshooting by committee NEVER works. Too many cooks spoil the broth. And it appears at least a half dozen of them have been involved in this kitchen mess so far.

And secondly, troubleshooting without a game PLAN almost always ends in disaster, as it has in this case.

The absence of a plan results in violation of the troubleshooting principles that must be followed to get the correct diagnosis in the shortest possible time.

For example, if my Troubleshooting Principle #3 – Check The Easy Things First had been respected, the conflict between the first hydraulic guy’s assessment (it’s the engine) and that of the diesel mechanic (it’s the hydraulics), could have been resolved by:

(a) changing the fuel filters and air cleaner elements on the engine, and then if necessary;

(b) flow-testing the pump on the machine, to establish whether or not it was drawing more power than the engine can deliver. Note that while (a) involves some expense, it’s easier to do than (b) and so it should be done first.

We’re then told another hydraulics guy gets involved and he condemns the pump. This violates Troubleshooting Principle #7 – Never Condemn a Component Without Proving It First. With very rare exception, NEVER remove a hydraulic component from a machine, or allow anyone else to do so, without PROVING it’s faulty, FIRST.

In this example, this is the point where the troubleshooting effort goes completely pear-shaped: the problem hasn’t been properly isolated, the pump is in 100 pieces, and when it’s finally reinstalled on the machine there’s a DIFFERENT problem.

Learning from other people’s mistakes, or other people’s experience, is much cheaper and less stressful than learning the hard way through your own trial and error.

Which is why The Hydraulic Troubleshooting Handbook contains a chapter titled: ‘Troubleshooting Lessons From The Coal Face’. In it I review a dozen real life troubleshooting situations like this one, analyze the approach taken and consider what was done right, and what was done wrong.

Plus, The Hydraulic Troubleshooting Handbook contains detailed explanation of ALL 12 Troubleshooting Principles which must be respected to get the correct diagnosis in the shortest possible time. AND avoid a troubleshooting disaster like the one above.

Christmas has passed but it’s not too late to give yourself a gift that keeps on giving: REAL, effective troubleshooting know-how.

So make this a New Year’s resolution and get your copy of The Hydraulic Troubleshooting Handbook today.