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NEWS | Jan. 13, 2023

Practical hydraulics course keeps improving at Fort McCoy

By Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood 88th Readiness Division

The four-day practical hydraulics course taught at the 88th Readiness Division-operated Draw Yard keeps improving. The latest one held here from Jan. 9-12, 2023, saw the students tested on a 120M motor grader and heavy scoop four-wheel drive loader.

The first class, which was among the fort’s Logistic Sustainment Training curriculum, held last year only tested the students on a MF102H hydraulic circuit simulator. The simulator allowed the students to safely build and disassemble hydraulic circuits following schematics. The simulator also had pressure gauges which were used to record system pressures during tests.

Brant Amble, the lead instructor, said the reason he was able to include the grader and loader test was because the draw yard was able to purchase Caterpillar hydraulic parts. These parts are needed for the grader and loader, which are both made by Caterpillar, to work correctly. He also added three more schematic events to the class.

Amble said that 99 percent of engineer equipment used by the Army Reserve is driven by hydraulics. For example, hydraulics plays a huge part in a vehicle’s transmission and braking system. “Most of these machines have anywhere from two to five hydraulic pumps and a bunch of hydraulic motors,” said Amble.

The grader and loader tests saw the students using pressure gauges to check hydraulic pressure on identified hydraulic parts. They had to pump the grader’s brake pedal at intervals of one second on and one second off at least 110 times for one of the tests to release hydraulic system pressure in one test.

For Jacob Duckworth assigned as a military technician to the Area Maintenance Support Activity-149, Laurel, Miss., this class will assist him when he returns to his AMSA. “We have a

lot of hydraulic problems in Mississippi dealing with climate and elevation, said Duckworth, an Army Reserve wheeled vehicle mechanic who has worked at the AMSA for seven years.

Overall, he said he liked the bench simulator. It shows you real-world features of what you will see in the field, but you get to see it freely here,” he said.

Duckworth, who is a staff sergeant assigned to the 3349 Liberty Support Battalion, Camp Shelby, Miss., said the grader and loader tests did not present any challenges. He said this was because he graduated from a technical institute of automotive and diesel technology.

The activity in the class that did challenge him was reading schematics. “Yeah, schematics,” he repeated with a smile.

Duckworth offered this advice for students wishing to attend this course. “Touch up on schematics a little bit because you jump right into it, it is basic, but you need to know a little bit about fundamentals of how hydraulics work.”

The students also were introduced to Pascal’s Law, which includes an automobile’s hydraulic braking system, and the six components that make hydraulic circuits operate.

As Amble said, “I always see room for the next class improvement. I think people are getting the gist of basic hydraulics from the class.”