How to Slow Down Hydraulic Cylinders


Hydraulic cylinders, a mechanical actuator that uses directed force to press and release a piston, are often used in joints and linkages in large, industrial vehicles such a excavators, backhoes and plows. A fluid, typically old, is pumped in and out of the cylinder to push and pull the piston forth and back to create the motion or angle needed for the machine to work. Slowing a hydraulic cylinder means controlling the flow of oil into the cylinder. There are different methods to accomplish this.

  • Downsize the hoses and tubes feeding fluid to the cylinder. Reducing the amount of oil allowed through the hose slows the speed of the piston. Depending on the wanted speed, try installing one size smaller than the currently installed hose to see how the reduction in oil corresponds with speed.

  • Install orifice constrictors on the end of the hose leading to the cylinder. Like a smaller hose, the constrictor reduces the amount of oil allowed into the cylinder at one time. A possible downside is that the oil may be heated by passing through the constrictor or, in very rare cases, the constrictor may create a thin, pressured stream of oil that may cause damage.

  • Remove the fittings at either end of the cylinder and braze them shut. Drill a hole in both to the size needed to restrict the flow to the correct speed.

  • Install flow controllers between the cylinder and hose. Flow controllers allow free flow in one direction, but restrict flow in the other. For example, the oil can leave the cylinder freely but enter the cylinder slowly.

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