Understanding High-Flow Hydraulic Systems

Skid steer owners rarely use only the equipment’s bucket. Most use some of the many attachments available – from augers to planers – to maximize the use of the equipment and increase productivity. When using attachments, it’s important to understand auxiliary hydraulic systems, which provide the hydraulic flow that drives the attachments.

There are two basic types of auxiliary hydraulics packages: standard flow and high flow. Standard-flow systems are included on all skid steers from the factory and have flow rates between 17.5 to 24.2 gallons per minute (gpm). By comparison, a high-flow system’s flow rate ranges from 30.7 to 37.6 gpm, which allows the loader to power high-flow, high-performance attachments.

Another option is an auxiliary high-flow hydraulics package. This high-performance option has flow rates similar to high-flow packages, yet it operates up to 4,000 psi, as opposed to the usual 300 psi.

“I am a big proponent of the upgraded hydraulic system,” says Matt Hammersmith, production manager at Hammersmith Manufacturing, which builds the Vail Products X Series line of attachments for compact track loaders, skid steers and utility tractors and vehicles. “The biggest factor in efficiency is your time on the job. Running a high-flow system means you are able to perform each task more efficiently and more quickly. Getting the job done and getting to the next one makes your entire business more efficient.”

Reduced downtime is another benefit of using a high-flow system. “A low-flow hydraulic system will be running at capacity all of the time,” Hammersmith says. “A high-flow system will be running at 50 percent capacity most of the time, which really reduces the wear and tear on that hydraulic system. Reduced wear-and-tear means reduced downtime.”

High-flow hydraulics also allow you to use a wider variety of attachments. A standard-flow machine can only run attachments designed for standard flow. A high-flow machine, however, can run both standard- and high-flow attachments. “You extremely underutilize horsepower by not using high flow attachments when possible,” Hammersmith says. “Even if the attachments that you normally run are not high flow, the hydraulic system is such an upgrade that it runs low-flow attachments so much easier.”

With hundreds of attachments available and more introduced each year, the skid steer’s versatility will only continue to grow. Investing in a high-flow hydraulic system gives you the option to increase your use of attachments now and in the future.

Vail Products, the leading manufacturer of aftermarket construction equipment attachments, is proud to unveil the Vail X Series line of attachments for Compact Track Loaders, Skid Steers, Utility Tractors and Utility Vehicles. Visit our selection of products by visiting

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