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February 9, 2024
Bailey International, a Tennessee manufacturer of hydraulic components and electronic controls, is expanding its Chief AT line of welded hydraulic cylinders to include 4-inch bore products, which are more streamlined and cleaner to maintain than tie-rod cylinders.
Tie-rod hydraulics consist of a cylindrical barrel containing hydraulic fluid that’s held together by tie rods attached to two end caps. A piston rod moves through the cylinder, leveraging the fluid as it flows within. Since its emergence on the market around the 1950s, this “true blue” design has been a reliable fixture in farm machinery everywhere.
But while it’s rugged and sturdy, Matt Grussing, director of sales at Bailey International, argues there’s room for improvement.
“That design has been out forever. It’s on hundreds, if not thousands, or thousands and thousands of pieces of agricultural equipment, through time, and it continues to be a mainstay,” Grussing says. But while it’s effective, he continued, traditional tie-rod cylinders have “all kinds of nooks and crannies where things can get lodged.”
This can cause cleanliness problems, especially for equipment that’s used for dirty jobs like manure application. To that end, Bailey International launched its Chief AT line of welded hydraulic cylinders in 2- and 3-inch bore sizes a few years ago, eliminating the need for exterior tie rods and end caps to hold the fluid-filled capsule together.
The step was notable, according to Grussing, because welded cylinders have historically been expensive to mass produce and impossible to design as an exact replacement for traditional cylinders. Bailey’s welded cylinders are a “drop-in replacement,” he says. “This was an improvement, and an aesthetic improvement, and at low cost.”
Notably, there are other options on the market for those looking for a more streamlined hydraulic cylinder, such as Ram Industries’ Ramlock Wirelock Cylinders, which feature internal steel rings that securely lock the cylinder barrel to the head and base.
After a few years of testing, listening to feedback and working things out, Grussing says Bailey expanded its Chief line of welded hydraulic cylinders to include 4-inch bore cylinders, which are often used for applications like dump trailers and mobile equipment.
“We spent a couple years incubating it and are pushing it out to the market now,” he says, noting Bailey focuses on producing cylinders primarily for manufacturers, rather than individual consumers. “This is going to enable us to reach a wider audience and to replace more options that are out there.”
The Chief AT line is engineered with a 1.5-to-1 safety factor and features a snap ring for bolt-free seal replacement, intended to limit maintenance downtime. The cylinders are built with ductile-iron-welded clevis end mounts and hard-chrome-plated rods. The product was tested with a 6,000-psi burst pressure test and a 20,000-cycle endurance test.
Bailey’s welded hydraulic cylinders are comparable in price to their traditional counterparts, according to Grussing. The primary advantage comes with modernized aesthetics and a slimmer design that’s easier to clean.
“This is trying to modernize what people have historically grown up with on the tie-rod market, without giving up any of the features they’re accustomed to,” Grussing says, noting the goal of Bailey was “to take an existing design and make it better — better mousetrap is the concept. This is an affordable way to move into the welded class when they want to modernize their equipment.”
Andy Castillo started his career in journalism about a decade ago as a television news cameraperson and producer before transitioning to a regional newspaper covering western Massachusetts, where he wrote about local farming.
Between military deployments with the Air Force and the news, he earned an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Bay Path University, building on the English degree he earned from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He's a multifaceted journalist with a diverse skill set, having previously worked as an EMT and firefighter, a nightclub photographer, caricaturist, features editor at the Greenfield Recorder and a writer for GoNomad Travel.
Castillo splits his time between the open road and western Massachusetts with his wife, Brianna, a travel nurse who specializes in pediatric oncology, and their rescue pup, Rio. When not attending farm shows, Castillo enjoys playing music, snowboarding, writing, cooking and restoring their 1920 craftsman bungalow.
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