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Repairing Hydros Is His Lifelong Business
“There’s always a sense of urgency when repairing broken down hydros,” says Jeff Stoen of Glenwood, Minn., “so that’s why the headline on our website and on our invoices says ‘Your problem is no problem at Stoen’s Hydrostatic’.” Jeff started his hydro repair business 23 years ago and true to his company headline, he even offers on-site service and 24-hour emergency service.

    “Whether it’s a custom harvester, a grain or dairy farmer, or a commercial business with a skid steer hydro problem, we’re set up to repair or replace a hydro usually in 24 hours or less,” Stoen says. He serves customers across the Midwest and around the country from a 10,000 sq. ft. facility in the Central Minnesota town of Glenwood. It has 5 hydro rebuilding stations, test stands, machining equipment, welding stations and a hydraulic hose production area. Stoen’s rebuilds hydraulic cylinders ranging from small ones for lawn mower power steering to large telescopic cylinders for trucks and construction equipment. They also install and repair wet kits on semi-tractors and design hydraulic systems for commercial material handling businesses such as gravel mining.

    “For most hydro jobs we have rebuilt units in stock,” Jeff says. “People with problems want them fixed as soon as possible, and we carry rebuilt units for several brands of combines, choppers, sprayers, skid steers, swathers and many types of construction equipment, including conveyors.”

    Stoen says many hydro problems are caused by contaminated oil, overheating and machine abuse, but some parts just wear out from use. “If oil somehow gets contaminated with dust or metal particles, the extreme high pressure in the hydro starts scoring internal parts,” Stoen says. “Scoring causes oil to blow by the intricate internal parts, the system loses pressure and in turn it begins losing power. If the equipment feels sluggish, chances are the oil is contaminated and there’s already internal part damage.” Stoens will swap out a damaged hydro with a rebuilt unit on a combine for about $3,500 on average. They carry hydros for most Deere, Case IH, Massey and Gleaner combines. Rebuilt hydros are also in stock for most brands of skid steers.

    “Preventative maintenance can go a long way toward maintaining a good working hydro,” says Stoen. “Whether it’s a small hydro on a lawn tractor or a large hydro on a 500 hp combine, the rules are the same. Check the oil level regularly, change the oil and filter every 500 hrs., and keep the oil cooler free of dust and dirt.” He says farmers who run huge combines these days assume the hydro is sized to provide extra power. “The design of hydros hasn’t changed much over the years,

but internal pressure has increased from 5,200 psi on combines 25 years ago to about 6,700 psi on new models,” Stoen says. The higher pressure produces more power to move the heavier machines, and that puts more stress on the components. A small problem can cause oil to overheat quickly and the hydro can send metal fragments, brass or steel through the whole hydraulic system. “Those problems can easily cost an additional $6,000 to $7,000 to repair,” Stoen says.

    Hydros for farm and construction equipment account for most of Stoen’s work, but they also repair lawn mower and garden tractor hydros at prices ranging from $350 to $1,000. “The concept of the hydro is the same, regardless of the size,” says Stoen.

    “We have certified technicians who use special tools and equipment for troubleshooting, repairs and testing. We examine the 100 or so parts in each unit, rebuild them if we can or replace them if we have to. The tolerances for our work are very precise, and we test every rebuilt unit for volumetric efficiencies and set it for the required pressures. When a rebuilt hydro goes out the door it’s about 97 to 98 percent as effective as a brand new one,” Stoen says.

    Repairing hydros is a very precise job that requires schooling, patience, a good temperament and experience. “It takes about 2 years to effectively train a new employee,” says Stoen. “They need to be capable of locating problems, pay attention to detail, and not be afraid to get dirty. They have to understand how the part works in every detail to know how to fix it.

    “There are only a few shops in the country that do this type of work, so all of us have to be darn good at what we do,” says Stoen.

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Stoen’s Hydrostatic Service, 16084 State Hwy. 29, Glenwood, Minn 56334 (ph 320 634-4360; www.Stoens.com).

Other well-known hydro repair shops:

Paul’s Repair Service, 6167 Merrill Rd., Byron, New York 14422 (ph 585 548-2641).

Hydro Service, 202 North Main St., Roland, Iowa 50236 (ph 515 388-4096).

Herrs Machine, 1745 Prospect Blvd., Washington, Kan. 66968 (ph 785 325-2875).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5