Hydraulics 101: What is the Stroke of a Hydraulic Cylinder?

Welcome to the 2nd installment of Hydraulics 101! So what is the stroke of a hydraulic cylinder?

hydraulic cylinder strokeThe stroke is one of the more commonly confused terms when it comes to hydraulic cylinders. The stroke is actually the distance the cylinder can travel, from fully closed to fully open. When someone is talking about a 30″ cylinder, they aren’t (or shouldn’t be) talking about the overall length of the cylinder, but they should be talking about how far it will lift or move something. The basic description of any cylinder is BORE & STROKE, so a 2.5 X 30 hydraulic cylinder has a 30″ stroke, meaning it will lift or push something 30″.

If you aren’t sure what the stroke of your cylinder is, subtract the length “fully closed” from the length “fully open”. Easy enough?

I hope this helps & as always, feel free to comment or send us an email with any other questions!

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  1. Hey, very interesting stuff. Do you guys have any particular preference for different hydraulic fluid brands?

  2. Ok,, I’ve had the opportunity to view all the info and I have many questions I’d like to ask,,is there a general forum to do this?? or am I using the correct forum right now ??

  3. Yes, strokes are definitely confusing terms when it comes to the hydraulic cylinders. I was not aware of this thing. This is an important information for the people who want to buy hydraulic cylinders.

  4. I need a sissor hoist cylinder,I bought a truck with a sissor hoist but no cyl.It is around24 inches from where it hooks on both ends when down.Can you help me with info?

  5. Paul Klinkenberg

    I am looking in to purchasing a used massey ferguson 30 backhoe/tractor and with its age I know that the boom lift extending cylinder will have to be replaced. Is this part something that your company will carry it looks like it has a 36 to 42 inch stroke (maybe)…….

  6. I have and application where I need a 24 inch throw length cylinder. Is there a simple way to calculate the center to center length of the retracted cylinder?
    Thanks for any help you may provide.

  7. When selecting a hydraulic cylinder for a particular job, does the stroke of the cylinder have to match exactly the travel of the implement. In other words,(if talking about the lift height of a bucket) if the bucket has to be lifted 20 inches, does the cylinder stroke have to also be 20 inches?

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