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Hydraulics in Road Maintenance

The average life of a modern roadbed is designed to be approximately 30 to 40 years, be it Asphalt or Concrete.  That may come as a surprise, and be barely credible when you meet yet another road repair barrier on your way to work.   Even with the best of planning and design, roads take a severe beating from heavy traffic and bad weather such as rain, snow and sun. Water creeps insidiously into minute cracks, freezes and expands, eroding  the sub surface causing the roadbed to give way. Hot weather causes the roadbed to expand and buckle.

Road maintenance operations can be as basic as sweeping up leaves and debris, to filling cracks and pot-holes, to replacing whole sections of roadbed.  Hydraulic Power, both cylinders and motors can be found in even the simplest Road Maintenance Machines.

Waves and ridges in the roadbed are removed by Road Millers, whose diamond faced rollers smooth out the surface, sometimes driven by hydraulic motors and adjusted with cylinders.  Millers can also remove asphalt top-layers from concrete roadbeds prior to re-surfacing.

Road sweepers use hydraulic motors to turn the brushes so their speed is independent of the vehicle, and can be adjusted for heavy or light accumulations.  The debris tank is usually tipped for emptying with the help on hydraulic cylinders, which also lift and lock the heavy duty rear door.

Heavy soil and rock accumulations are handled by Hydraulic front-loading dump trucks, whose scoops swing over the cab and empty into the truck bed behind, followed by Pressure Washers and Vacuums.  Their large nozzles are positioned using hydraulic cylinders and the tipping to empty is also cylinder actuated.

Asphalt can be recycled on-site by heating overnight, then re-applied to the road bed from whence it came. The machines used, Asphalt Recyclers, come in different sizes, the smaller ones have their own self-tipping cylinders, the larger ones fit onto dump truck beds or tipping truck frames.  The asphalt is melted with propane burners in insulated tanks with tapered sides, and the melted mix is released by a hydraulic assisted guillotine door.  The sealed top lids can also be fitted with cylinders for opening and closing.

Winter in Northern latitudes brings out equipment rarely seen in southern climes such as snow plows and sand or de-icing spreaders. The Snow plow blades are hydraulically positioned with cylinders, up, down, left and right to clear the snow from the roads. Sand Spreaders use hydraulic motors to turn auger screws and deliver a uniform distribution across the width of the tailgate. Hydraulic Motors are also used to sling the sand and chemicals in directed patterns.