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Single acting rams can exert force in only one direction. Under the influence of hydraulic pressure the piston rod of a single acting ram will either extend or retract. The diagram shows a typical ‘out stroking’ single acting ram, pumping fluid under pressure into port A (full bore ) will extend the piston rod, the force exerted will be dependant on the cylinder bore diameter and the fluid pressure. The piston rod can only be retracted by the influence of some external force (usually the weight of the load or the machine it’s self ). ‘In stroking’ single acting rams are similar to the double acting ram with the exception that fluid is supplied to the annulus port only. The force exerted is dependent on the cylinder bore diameter, the piston rod diameter and the fluid pressure.
Single acting rams generally only have one service port. The non pressure side of the cylinder must be vented to allow air to pass in and out as the piston moves. In arduous conditions single acting rams can tend to suffer from rusting or pitting of the bore as moist air passes in and out of the non pressure side of the cylinder.