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In the modem world of today, hydraulics plays a very important role in the day-to-day lives of people. Its importance can be gaged from the fact that it is considered to be one part of the muscle that moves the industry, the other being Pneumatics. The purpose of this book is to familiarize one with the underlying principles of hydraulics as well as make an effort at understanding the practical concepts governing the design and construction of various hydraulic systems and their applications.

Additionally the functional aspects concerning the main hydraulic system components as well as the accessory components have been dealt with, in detail. The final part of the book is devoted to the general maintenance practices and troubleshooting techniques used in hydraulic systems with specific emphasis on ways and means adopted to prevent component/system failures. The Greek word ‘Hydra’ refers to water while ‘Aulos’ means pipes.

The word hydraulics originated from Greek by combining these words, which in simple English means, water in pipes, Man has been aware of the importance of hydraulics since prehistoric times. In fact even as early as the time period between 100 and 200 BC, man had realized the energy potential in the flowing water of a river. The principles of hydraulics were put to use even in those early times, in converting the energy of flowing water into useful mechanical energy by means of a water wheel.

Ancient historical accounts show that water was used for centuries to generate power by means of water wheels. However, this early use of fluid power required the movement of huge quantities of fluid because of the relatively low pressures provided by nature. With the passage of time, the science of hydraulics kept on developing as more and more efficient ways of converting hydraulic energy into useful work were discovered. The subject of hydraulics which dealt with the physical behavior of water at rest or in motion remained a part of civil engineering for a long time.

However, after the invention of James Watt’s ‘steam engine’, there arose the need for efficient transmission of power, from the point of generation to the point of use. Gradually many types of mechanical devices such as the line shaft, gearing systems, pulleys and chains were discovered. It was then that the concept of transmitting power through fluids under pressure was thought of. This indeed was a new field of hydraulics, encompassing varying subjects such as power transmission and control of mechanical motion, while also dealing with the characteristics of fluids under pressure.

To distinguish this branch of hydrauhcs from water hydraulics, a new name called ‘Industrial hydraulics’ or more commonly, ‘oil hydraulics’ was coined. The significance behind choosing this name lies in the fact that this field of hydraulics employs oil as a medium of power transmission. Water which is considered to be practically incompressible is still used in present-day hydrotechnology. The term water hydraulics has since been coined for this area of engineering.