October 22, 2022 News

In the last hydraulics bulletin, I explained why the charge pump in a hydrostatic transmission is pure heat load and how one hydraulic equipment user’s failure to understand this cost him dearly.

Today, I will discuss another issue to be aware of with hydrostatic transmissions and a simple technique to minimize it:

When a hydrostatic transmission is subject to a sudden increase in load, the motor stalls momentarily, and system pressure increases until the increased load is overcome or the high-pressure relief valve opens – whichever occurs first.

While the motor is stalled, there is no return flow from the outlet of the motor to the inlet of the pump. This means that the transmission pump will cavitate for as long as it takes to make up the volume of fluid required to develop the pressure needed to overcome the increased load (or the high-pressure relief valve).

How long the pump cavitates depends on the output of the charge pump, the magnitude of the pressure increase, its influence on the increase in the volume of the pipe or hose, and the decrease in the volume of the fluid.

This is called the “accumulator effect,” and you can click here to watch a short video that explains this.

One way to minimize stalling and pressure spikes and the resulting “accumulator effect” in applications where the load on the transmission varies, in say drill rigs, for example, is to install a flywheel between the hydraulic motor and reduction box.

The stored energy in the flywheel assists the hydrostatic drive to maintain speed and torque, minimizing the magnitude of pressure fluctuations resulting from sudden increases in load.

Yours for better hydraulics knowledge,
Brendan Casey