Hydraulic hoses can be a weak link in your tractor’s hydraulic system. The exposed hoses are very vulnerable to wear – and thus leakage and failure. Nylon sleeves over the hoses can dramatically increase hose life.
The Problem: Hydraulic pressure hoses are generally made of rubber with steel reinforcement. They are designed to contain hydraulic pressures that can be as high as 2,500 – 3,000 psig on some newer tractors. Hose is used rather than rigid steel tubing in situations requiring flexing and movement (or to absorb vibration). The hoses are subject to external damage from kinking, crushing and abrasion. Proper design, installation and routing can minimize kinking and crushing problems, but in many situations it is impossible to avoid hose contact with other tractor and implement parts. When a hose rubs on another surface, the hose will wear. When the outer layer of the hose wears through, several bad things happen: the steel reinforcement can rust, the hose can leak or the hose can rupture. Abrasive wear reportedly is responsible for 80% of hose failures.
Proper Design: Proper design and installation can eliminate some hose problems. The designer can use steel tubing, rigidly mounted to the tractor or implement, whenever possible to eliminate wear. In the many situations on tractors and implements where a hose is needed, the hose can sometimes be routed to completely avoid contact with other components. If no other components are touched by the hose, no wear will occur. In many cases, however, it is not possible to avoid some contact with other parts. In those situations, other protection can be helpful. Rigid spiral hose protectors, spiral plastic sleeves and cloth hose sleeves are all available and sometimes used to protect hoses from wear.
Hose Sleeves: An excellent way to protect hoses from abrasion when they must be routed against other components is the use of nylon protective sleeves over the hoses. Some manufacturers have begun to install these sleeves on their equipment at the factory, but the sleeves can also be installed by the owner or operator. The sleeves are simple nylon mesh tubing that looks like coarse cloth. They are available from most hose suppliers. The sleeves can be slid over single hoses or over a bundle of two or more hoses. They should be held in place with plastic cable ties or some similar fastener. If one end of the hose is free, installation is simple; if both ends of the hose are connected to fixed fittings, you will either have to disconnect one end to slip the sleeve over the hose or use an alternate type of sleeve that is split for easier installation.
Results: These simple sleeves do an excellent job of protecting the hoses and prolonging hose life. In one situation at the LSU AgCenter, we were replacing hoses every 1-2 years due to abrasive wear. Since installing a sleeve over the hoses over 10 years ago, no more damage has occurred. The sleeve material is relatively expensive but is well worth it. You will easily save the cost of the sleeves by reducing or eliminating hose replacement. And you can dramatically reduce the mess, inconvenience and possible danger associated with hose failures.