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  1. #1
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    478
    Location
    Central Illinois. No, not Chicago.
    Tractor
    IH 404, Cub GT 2554

    Default Water in hydraulic system.

    I know this is a common problem so I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas -

    When I got my 404 it had usual hydraulic problems that seem to go along with older equipment. Milky looking fluid in the hydraulic system, obviously from water contamination. And the lift worked slowly, the pump was noisy, etc.

    I changed the fluid and filter and the problems went away for maybe an hour. But of course they came back. Not as bad as before but still not right. So I changed the filter again and topped off the fluid. Again, I can run an hour or so and the problems re-appear.

    I know I can just keep changing fluid and filters until I get everything flushed out. But wasting 7 gallons, $45 worth of UTF and a $10 filter each time is going to get expensive. It's also a pita trying to dispose of 7 gallons of fluid.

    Does anyone have any cheaper or easier ways to resolve this? Or am I just stuck doing it this way?
    1962 IH 404, 2006 Cub 2554

  2. #2
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    332
    Location
    Texas
    Tractor
    Massey Ferguson 2135

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    You probably didn't get it all out the first time it was drained. It doesn't take much water to make it milky. On older tractors there are 2 drain plugs sometimes. Let it drain a long time and cycle the hydraulic lever to make sure it is out of the cylinder. Also, if it sets outside, water leaks in around the shifter boots on some models.

  3. #3
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    478
    Location
    Central Illinois. No, not Chicago.
    Tractor
    IH 404, Cub GT 2554

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    Those things I did.

    Mine has 2 drain plugs. One on the bottom of the rear end housing and one on the lift housing. I pulled them both and let them drain for 1/2 a day. I also made sure the lift was all the way down to clear out all of it I could from the lift cylinder.

    The lift housing fluid actually looked worse than what came out of the lower housing. I imagine the previous owners had never drained it.

    I know I won't be leavng it out in the rain. The shifter isn't sealed, just a metal splash and dust cover. It appears to be the only system vent...
    1962 IH 404, 2006 Cub 2554

  4. #4
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    280
    Location
    Southern NY

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    Just an idea- would it be cheaper to fill it with diesel or kerosene let is sit over night then drain it? Know thats what they do with the chinese tractors to get the crappie chinese oil out. I bring my used oil to the county recylcing drop off. Good luck Ed

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    2,352
    Location
    Wayne County Pa.
    Tractor
    Massey Ferguson model 85, Allis-Chalmers WD-45

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    Throw a bottle of isopropyl in your hyd oil.
    Knowing is not enough, you must apply.
    Willing is not enough, you must do.
    Bruce Lee

  6. #6
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    322
    Location
    pa
    Tractor
    Kubota L48 Kobelco sk100 Kobelco sko35 case 450 Mack R600

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    You also need to check the flow and pressure on the pump after changing the oil and filter twice you should have 95% or more of the water out of the system if it runs about a hour and acts up that would be just about long long enough for the system to warm up and the pump to loose flow if worn

  7. #7
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    478
    Location
    Central Illinois. No, not Chicago.
    Tractor
    IH 404, Cub GT 2554

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    Dirthog - I've changed the oil just once but the filter twice. When I said I can run about an hour before I have problems, I meant that's about how long it takes before the suction screen and filter are loaded up with white foamy crap again and I can hear the pump starting to cavitate. It actually seems to work better for a while as the fluid starts to warm. Right up until I get the plugged filter.

    But, with my use and the colder weather here I haven't be able to work the tractor hard enough to get things up to "normal" temperature. I even had to cover the grill almost completely just to the get the engine temp up near normal. And that's with a brand new 180 degree thermostat. These things really need a clutch fan.

    The tractor had no remote valves when I got it. I've got them installed now but I still need to get the remote plumbing installed and then I'll have an easy way to check the pressure. The lift capacity seems just fine but I know there's no way to be sure without measuring the pressure.

    Thanks everyone else for the suggestions. I've wondered about flushing with diesel fuel or adding something else to the existing fluid before I drain it again but then I worry about seal compatibility. I'll need to think about that a little more I guess.

    The good news is it doesn't seem to be getting worse. I used the tractor about 1/2 hour last night and the lift was sluggish when I first started but better at the end. I'm hoping the filter is trapping some of the residue. I might try changing the filter yet again and topping off the fluid. I might also try to drain some fluid off the bottom of each reservoir after the tractor sits a week or so. Maybe I can pull some of the water and heavily contaminated fluid out that way with minimal fluid loss.

    Old tractors. Gotta love'um...
    1962 IH 404, 2006 Cub 2554

  8. #8
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    9
    Location
    Saskatchewan
    Tractor
    Ford 545 Industrial

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne County Hose View Post
    Throw a bottle of isopropyl in your hyd oil.
    Andy,
    I was wondering... have you ever tried doing this to get rid of water in a hydraulic system?

    I have a Ford 545 Industrial with a loader on it, and I have water in one part of the loader control. When it freezes (and it really freezes here in Saskatchewan), the control lever will not move left/right, which is bucket tilt. Sometimes the freeze-up will cause the lever to move to the right (tilt down), and I have to thaw it before I can start the machine.

    The oil is not foaming, so it's possible that the water is not actually in the oil, but rather, in a position where it moves/holds the actuator rod only.

    I currently use a heat gun, directed at the control block, at a place where it looks like the water might be (a sleeve that the rod probably extends into). Within a few minutes, it frees up, and stays free while I use the tractor.

    I am a little reluctant to remove the sleeve and check, since I really need the tractor over the winter for snow removal and feeding horses with large round bales, and I'd hate to mess something up until spring.

    Thanks,
    Larry

  9. #9
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,001

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    I would say you got it cleaned enough, probably a suction leak.
    Or restriction.

  10. #10
    Super Star Member J_J's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    18,923
    Location
    JACKSONVILLE, FL
    Tractor
    Power-Trac 1445, KUBOTA B-9200HST

    Default Re: Water in hydraulic system.

    lar3ry

    This is a quote from another individual about isopropyl.

    I have used regular ATF for many years with no problems. I recent years I started using synthetic ATF for better cold weather performance. This has been in Fisher and Western pumps. (It even said in manuals that is was acceptable) Meyer pumps do tend to like a lighter fluid so I do not use ATF in those but there are those that do. If you are concerned about anti freeze in it you could add 1/2 to 1 oz of methol alcohol to it (depending on system fluid capacity). Alcohol is the only anitfreeze that can be added to oil because only it can bond to both the water and oil at same time at the molecular level. Do not use Isopropyl as it is 30 to 50% water by volume as bought over the counter. At a 50% water level Isopropyl freezes at about -25. Add in any water it may find in system at the freezing point gets a lot higher yet. Methyl alcohol (Dry Gas and Gasoline antifreeze) has a freezing point of minus 144 in its pure state and when it takes on the same amount of added moisture that diluted Isopropyl does, it will have a considerably lower freezing point too.
    J.J.

    When I works, I works hard. When I sits and thinks, I goes to sleep.

    Git er done.

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