A cylinder is constructed of a barrel or tube, a piston and rod (or ram), two end caps, and suitable oil seals. A barrel is usually seamless steel tubing, or cast, and the interior is finished very true and smoothly. A steel piston rod is highly polished and usually hard chrome-plated to resist pitting and scoring. It is supported in the end cap by a bushing or polished surface.
The cylinder’s ports are built into the end caps, which can be screwed on to the tubes, welded, or attached by tie bolts or bolted flanges. If the cylinder barrel is cast, the head-end cap may be integral with it. Mounting provisions often are made in the end caps, including flanges for stationary mounting or clevises for swinging mounts.
Seals and wipers are installed in the rod’s end cap to keep the rod clean and to prevent external leakage around the rod. Other points where seals are used are at the end cap and joints and between the piston and barrel. Depending on how the rod is attached to the piston, a seal may be needed. Internal leakage should not occur past a piston. It wastes energy and can stop a load by a hydrostatic lock (oil trapped behind a piston).
Figure 4-8, shows force-and-motion applications of cylinders. Because fluid power systems have many requirements, actuating cylinders are available in different shapes and sizes. A cylinder-type actuator is versatile and may be the most trouble-free component of fluid-powered systems. A cylinder and a mechanical member of a unit to be actuated must be aligned correctly. Any misalignment will cause excessive wear of a piston, a piston rod, and the seals. Also, a piston rod and an actuating unit must stay properly adjusted. Clean the exposed ends of the piston rods to ensure that foreign matter does not get into the cylinders.