The single-acting piston-type cylinder is similar in design and operation to the single-acting ram-type cylinder. The single-acting piston-type cylinder uses fluid pressure to provide the force in one direction, and spring tension, gravity,
compressed air, or nitrogen is used to provide the force in the opposite direction. Figure 10-5 shows a single-acting, spring-loaded, piston-type actuating cylinder. In this cylinder the spring is located on the rod side of the piston. In some spring-loaded cylinders the spring is located on the blank side, and the fluid port is on the rod side of the cylinder.
A three-way directional control valve is normally used to control the operation of the single-acting piston-type cylinder. To extend the piston rod, fluid under pressure is directed through the port into the cylinder (fig. 10-5). This
pressure acts on the surface area of the blank side of the piston and forces the piston to the right. This action moves the rod to the right, through the end of the cylinder, thus moving the actuated unit in one direction. During this action, the spring is compressed between the rod side of the piston and the end of the cylinder. The length of the stroke depends upon the physical limits within the cylinder and the required movement of the actuated unit.
To retract the piston rod, the directional control valve is moved to the opposite working position, which releases the pressure in the cylinder. The spring tension forces the piston to the left, retracting the piston rod and moving the actuated unit in the opposite direction. The fluid is free to flow from the cylinder through the port, back through the control valve to the return line in hydraulic systems or to the atmosphere in pneumatic systems.
The end of the cylinder opposite the fluid port is vented to the atmosphere. This prevents air from being trapped in this area. Any trapped air would compress during the extension stroke, creating excess pressure on the rod side of the piston. This would cause sluggish movement of the piston and could eventually cause a complete lock, preventing the fluid pressure from moving the piston.
The spring-loaded cylinder is used in arresting gear systems on some models of carrier aircraft. To raise (retract) the arresting hook, fluid pressure is directed through the arresting hook control valve to the rod side of the cylinder. This force moves the piston, which, through the rod and mechanical linkage, retracts the arresting hook. The arresting hook extends when fluid pressure is released from the rod side of the cylinder, allowing the spring to expand.
Leakage between the cylinder wall and piston is prevented by adequate seals. The piston in figure 10-5 contains V-ring seals.