View Full Version : OT / Water in the Oil

05-25-2008, 10:50 PM
Say everyone, I have been working on this forklift that was given to me and I ran into a bit of a problem. It seems that the machine had sat outside for about two years before I was chosen as the new owner. As it turns out the hydraulic system has more water in it than oil. Now I have owned heavy equiptment, dozers, excavators and such but never had this much water in a system. So the question is, what is the best way to get the water out without destoying gallons of new oil? Any help or suggestions would be gratefully accepted. Thanks, Jay

doctor demo
05-25-2008, 10:57 PM
Jay, Has the machine been run with the water in th oil? Or is the water/oil just sitting in the tank?


05-25-2008, 11:33 PM
Unfortunately, when I got it, I was under the imression that it just needed a tune up and a set of forks. So I got a set of forks and installed them, tuned it up and went out to pick up my planer. It would pick up the light end (about 1200 lbs) but not the heavy end (about 2400 lbs) . Actually, looking back, I am impressed that it would pick up the light end on water. So, the answer to your question is, yes it has been run and I am sure the water is everywhere. Thanks, Jay

doctor demo
05-26-2008, 12:57 AM
Private msg. heading your way.

05-26-2008, 01:27 AM
Well Jay, the water may have damaged your hyd pump. If there is a drain plug on the tank let the unit sit for 24 hours then slowly remove the plug and hold the plug against the hole. The water should drain out and when oil starts coming out you will have most the water out of the system.

If you move the forks all the way up and down and then let it sit 24 hr and drain the water again and maybe do it several days you should get most the water out.

If there is a filter you need to change the filter. Now the bad news. It may be a good idea to remove the hyd pump and tear it down to see if there is any water damage. If it seems to be working ok then run it until it fails.

05-26-2008, 01:43 AM
Yes this is kind of what I have been going on. I needed to do a repair on the tank so I drained it thinking I would put the oil back in when done. This is when I found all the water. I have since repaired the tank and reinstalled it. I have heard tell of an add mixture or something that will help pick up the water but have not located or identified it yet. Unfortunately the oil that was in the system was pretty fouled from the water. It is an old clark lift with a flathead engine that runs out great. I hope I can save it as I could really use it now to move my new found Gray planer into the shop. Thanks for your help, Jay

05-26-2008, 01:54 AM
If you still have the oil in a drain pan then try pouring the oil into another pan and as you reach the water in the bottom STOP pouring. That is all the oil you can save.

The longer you let the oil/water sit the more the water will seperate out and settle to the bottom. It gets kind of foamy and thick and changes color when the water gets mixed in.

05-26-2008, 07:31 AM
if you are trying to seperate the water and oil. freeze it the water will freeze then pour the oil off.

05-26-2008, 03:36 PM
I think I should take the tank back off and just flush the whole system. I believe this will probably work out the best in the long run. I also think the hydraulic system will produce enough PSI to move the machines I own and on the Planer, I can always use the lift on one end and skates on the other. If anyone has any other ideas or thoughts about flushing the system let me know. Thanks for the help so far, Jay

05-26-2008, 11:00 PM
If there's not a drain plug in the tank, add one.

If it has a metal strainer or scraper oil filter, open it up and remove any water. If it has a paper element filter, buy a couple of spares. Clean or change the filter.

Fire it up every day, run each ram though its full length of travel, move every valve to its limit. Shut it off, let it sit overnight, and drain any water out of the tank the next morning. Repeat until no water comes out. Then clean or change the filter.

At the other extreme, you'd remove every single bit of hydraulic equipment, disassemble the pump, rams, and valves, flush the hoses, do any other service necessary, and then put it all back on the lift and use fresh new hydraulic oil.

"Perfect is the enemy of good enough."

Forrest Addy
05-26-2008, 11:45 PM
I suggest you consult with a forklift reparr or a hydraulic service outfit.

Sound like a filter cart is in order. Used to be they'd centrifuge oil to separate the water.

An old trick used with av-gas was to line a big funnel with chamois wetted with gas and filter every drop of gas through it. The water wouldn't pass but accumulated in the bottom. Gas is pretty runny. This would go slow with hyd. oil.

05-27-2008, 04:07 AM
This is a HYDRO-lic system. Not a PETROA-lic system. Hydraulics were not invented with oils in mind. They used water. They still function well with water, just not in subfreezing temps.

Oily hydraulic fluids are not used in places exposed to high temps, like steel mills, with 2800 degree temps.

They are water based. Pyroil, I think, is one brand.
The machine will pick up one end but not the other. That suggest that it is not water. You have a bad cylinder on the end that will not lift. Unless you are saying that it will pick up the 1200 pound end but will not pick up the 2400 pound end.
I don't know if you have a 3600 or even 3000 pound machine, nor the rating of your forklift. What is it, anyway? If it is rated 2000, it shouldn't pick up the heavy end.

Vane type hydraulic pump will produce volume, not PSI, when worn out.

Water's not your problem, though I would get rid of it.



05-27-2008, 11:15 AM
That is an interesting way to look at it. Yes I meant that the forklift will not pick up the heavy end of the Planer but would pick up the light end. I am not sure of the rating of the lift. It is an old Clark and I would guess it had a 2000 or 3000 lbs rating. Thanks, Jay