The Origin Of Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders rely on pressurised fluids to produce extremely high forces.  We have been harnessing the power of water to run machinery for hundreds of years.  The earliest examples of this are waterwheels which provided power for mills. In the 17th century, Blaise Pascal discovered that pressurised water in confined spaces increases the initial force. It wasn’t until one hundred years later Daniel Bournelli actually put Pascal’s theory into practice.  This development resulted in the use of hydraulic cylinders in all areas of our lives.

In 1795 Joseph Braumah built the first hydraulic press using the principle designed by Bournelli. After many years of development and improvements, the water was deemed too corrosive and replaced by noncorrosive oil.  This had many benefits as the oil is much denser than water and able to manage heavy loads. Also, it does not overheat and evapourate ensuring the hydraulic system remains bubble-free.

As well as developing and refining the fluid in hydraulic systems hydraulic cylinders have also been greatly improved.  The last century hydraulic systems have been used in many applications such as; cranes, car braking systems, drilling, manufacturing and rescue tools.  Hydraulic systems increase the power of an electric motor tenfold making light work of heavy lifting and pulling.

Hydraulic Cylinders In The Future

Engineers are constantly devising ways to increase the amount of force hydraulic systems produce. This century has seen many developments in the use of hydraulic cylinders to power cranes, landing gear, moving heavy objects and in manufacturing.  Developments in hydraulic cylinders enable heavy tasks to be undertaken with precision and a high degree of accuracy.

Hydraulic systems are much more effective than mechanical systems due to their precision and controllability. The sheer power they produce makes any lifting work achievable in many industries.  It is incredible to think about all of the amazing possibilities hydraulic systems will enable us to achieve in the future.

Challenger Hydraulic Cylinders

Challenger Group manufactures highly effective hydraulic cylinders to suit the individual requirements of each customer. They range from a bore size of 20 mm to 350 mm with working pressure up to 450 Bar.  The cylinders can be double acting, single acting and through rod types and manufactured from mild stainless steel if required. We also incorporate Cartridge valves, limit switches or linear potentiometers into our hydraulic cylinders if applicable to particular applications.

We use computer-aided design (CAD) and modern CNC machine tools extensively in our design and build process.  This ensures the reliability and efficiency of our hydraulic cylinders and ultimately results in customer satisfaction.

Our hydraulic cylinders are used in a range of applications including; Machine Tools, Refuse handling, materials handling, offshore equipment, steel processing, water treatment, mining, construction, vehicle manufacturing, and within the chemical industry.  We also stock a range of hose and couplings. 

If you would like to see our manufacturing process or commission the manufacture of hydraulic cylinders contact us and we would be happy to help.

How To Clean Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders are an integral part of a hydraulic system. We rely on hydraulic systems in all aspects of our lives.  We use hydraulic brake systems in our cars and aeroplanes use hydraulic wheel systems to land. Road repair and building construction is quicker and requires less manpower due to hydraulic systems.  Our lives would be considerably slower and inefficient without hydraulics.

The principle behind hydraulics is very simple and explained by Pascal’s Law which states, ‘that when there is an increase in pressure at any point in a confined fluid, there is an equal increase at every other point in the container.’  Hydraulic cylindrs are simple units whic exert a great deal of power. This is why we are able to stop a 29 tonne car using our feet.

Hydraulic cylinders are sealed units made of stainless of mild steel containing a rod, sealent and presurised fluid.  It is extremely important that the seal remains intact otherwise the system will not work properly. Maintaining and assessing the efficiency of hydraulic cylinders prevents them from becoming sluggish and ineffective.

Pascal’s Law

Pascal’s law was named after French mathematician and physist Blaise Pascal in 1647-48.  The simpleset way to demonstrate the law is with two syringes connected by a tube with water in it.  One of the syringes has the plunger down (first) and the other syringe (second) up creating a sealed unit.  You make the plunger on the first syrning go up by pushing down the plunger on the second syringe. If the syringes are of equal size equal the force is equal if the second syringe is bigger the force increases.  

Most school children will be familiar with this experiment and use this simple hydraulic system to power toy cars or make lifts travel through floors in cardboard hotels.  The principle is exactly the same in mechanical hydraulic systems where hydraulic cylinders apply the force. We use Pascal’s Law every day in our cars, rubbish collectors, construction machinery and a wide range of applications.

Keeping Hydraulic Cylinders Clean

Hydraulic cylinders are sealed linear units containing a piston rod, cylinder tube, base, piston, cap, wiper, rod seal,piston seal, rod bearing band, washers and wipers.  It is vitally important to keep the unit air tight and clear of debris. Any dust or dirt in the cylinder will cause considerable damage and incure large costs. Here is a video showing the inside of a hydraulic cylinder.

It is important to maintain hydraulic cylinders by cleaning them to keep them in full working order.  Maintaing the cylinders requires them to be taken a part to be cleaned then put back together correctly.  If they are not reconstructed properly they will not work and the componants may become damaged. This is a complex tax and requires experience and expertise so it is prudent to enlist the services of an engineering company to carry out the procedure.

If you would like to find out more about maintaing and cleaning hydraulic cylinders contact us and we would be happy to discuss your options.

The Beauty Of Hydraulic Cylinders

The exciting aspect of our work is reconditioning used equipment.  Secondhand machinery has been brought to us because a company has upgraded or changed direction.  Occasionally companies may cancel an order and their machinery has to be sold at a reduced price – which is a bargain for anyone just starting a new business or wishing to expand an existing one.

Replacement Of Hydraulic Cylinders

Challenger specialises in all things hydraulic and has the necessary equipment such as; hydraulic power units, hydraulic cylinders, hoses & fittings and a whole cacophony of other components to breathe life into tired machinery. When you purchase a piece of secondhand machinery you can be guaranteed to be delivered a machine that is as good as new.  The company applies the same exacting standards to new and secondhand machinery.

How Hydraulics Cylinders Work

Hydraulic cylinders work on the very simple principle of either increasing or decreasing the amount of force produced using pistons.  The principle is so simple that children use syringes, water and tubing to move models such as, lifts, trains, cars and even robots in classroom projects.  Hydraulic systems also use multiple factoring by having one piston larger than the other so that the force increases.  It is important that air doesn’t get into the system as this can severely inhibit the performance of the pistons. This video demonstrates hydraulics in its simplest form.

Where Hydraulics Are Used

The hydraulic system we use the most is related to the brakes in our car.  The pressure we but on the brake pad in multiplied a number of times to enable the car to be stopped either slowly or abruptly.  Brakes need to be continuously maintained to avoid air bubbles getting into the system as the brakes become ineffective and can result in accidents.  Most of the machinery produced by Challenger involve hydraulics; wheelchair lifts and hydraulic presses are two examples.  Hydraulic systems are used by everybody from hairdressers to fairgrounds and dishwashers to aeroplanes that it is almost impossible to imagine life without them.  If hydraulics didn’t exist we would have to use other scientific principles such as; wedges, inclined planes and manual lifting.

Maintaining Hydraulic Systems

When Challenger group refurbish second hand machinery we always make sure that the hydraulic system is working perfectly and old pistons are replaced. If your machinery’s hydraulic systems need replacing or repairing then contact us to discuss your options.

What are Hydraulics?

How much do you know about hydraulics? If the answer is ‘not that much’ that’s completely understandable.  The chances are that you actually come across and use hydraulics everyday without really realising or thinking about it.

To get the basics of hydraulics you need to know Pascal’s Law. This states that when there is an increase in pressure at any point in a confined fluid, there is an equal increase at every other point in the container. ( Hydraulics is really all to do with pressure. In simple terms, a hydraulics system uses fluid to shift a force from one point to another point. In the real world this could mean, for example, allowing an operator to achieve significant work like lifting or moving a very heavy load.

When you think of hydraulics you may just think about big pieces of machinery but they are also used significantly in smaller, everyday applications.

A few examples of where hydraulics are used on big scale and small scales:

Tower Bridge

This is an example of a huge hydraulic system. Tower Bridge is an example of a bascule bridge, which comes from the French word for ‘see-saw’. When large ships and boats pass through the bridge, hydraulics jump into action to raise up the two sides of the bridge to allow them to pass.  This is obviously a huge weight which couldn’t be lifted effectively without the use of hydraulics.

Ferris Wheels

Hydraulics make Ferris wheels turn along with providing motion controls to a lot of other theme park rides too.


Along with a huge number of large machinery like cranes, forklifts and jacks use hydraulics to lift and move things.

Office Chairs

Chances are if you work at a desk you may well operate a small hydraulics system moving your chair up and down.

Petrol pumps

Hydraulics are used inside cars to take the fuel from the fuel tank into the car. Hydraulics are also used in cars braking systems to operate the brakes on all four wheels.


Hydraulics are used in a lot of the machines we manufacture and we also produce a large range of hydraulic systems, cylinders and power units.