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Excel Expertise: Accumulator Maintenance Best Practices

A question was recently posed to our Excel Expertise segment: “How many times can an accumulator be used? Does it need to be tested?”

Excel Service Manager and resident cone crusher expert Ken Olson’s response: if an accumulator is properly charged and working under design pressure, it should last for years.

xsection accumulator Excel Expertise: Accumulator Maintenance Best Practices

However, there are several things that will shorten the life of an accumulator:

  • Use of non-typical hydraulic oil that is not compatible with the standard neoprene bladder.
  • Storing an accumulator under full pre-charge is not recommended and will significantly shorten the shelf life. This is witnessed by a ring of overstretched rubber where the bladder contacts the anti-extrusion valve.
  • Subjecting an undercharged accumulator to full hydraulic pressure will cause what is called “pick out.” This is where a small hole is punched out at the bottom diameter of the charging valve (Schroeder Valve).
  • Excessive surface corrosion to the pressure vessel, particularly at the mounting straps.
  • Excessive tramp release events.

If by “how many times can it be used,” one means how many times the accumulator can be recharged, the question becomes why it is necessary to do so. If the accumulator is losing pressure then there is a problem with the gas valve or with the bladder itself. One can change the gas valve and see if this rectifies the situation. If not, then it is necessary to rebuild the accumulator (replace the bladder).

Always remember that accumulators are considered pressure vessels and all federal, state, and local regulations apply, as well as any company rules. Under typical crusher applications I would expect the accumulators to last three plus years. However, frequent ring bounce, as well as tramp release dithering (this can generate significant heat), will significantly shorten the bladder life. As a rule of thumb, the accumulators should be disassembled, inspected and rebuilt at least every five years. Whether a pressure test is necessary will depend upon local rules and regulations. Most crusher applications operate until the bladder fails and then perform maintenance, while others empirically determine a service life. A failed accumulator becomes filled with hydraulic oil. As the fluid is not compressible, this causes excessive forces to be applied to a crusher.

Ken Olson200 Excel Expertise: Accumulator Maintenance Best Practices

With over 30 years of experience in the mining industry and a degree in mining engineering, Ken Olson is a leader in the field. He helped develop the Raptor Cone Crusher line after joining Excel Crusher Technologies in 2004, and after joining Excel Foundry & Machine in 2012, he has been using his vast experience to greatly help the Excel team ever since.

Excel provides premium aftermarket components for more than a dozen different OEM brands. At Excel, we believe in delivering our distributors and customers quality products along with providing the very best in service and experience from industry experts.

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