Step outside the airport in Las Vegas and the sensory overload begins. Hard-charging lights and sounds that create an incomparable experience for the entire time one is within that unique city.


So, if you are in the business of creating memorable entertainment in such a competitive atmosphere, how do you do it? In fact, how do you do it and keep it going for twenty years?

Well for Cirque du Soleil and the MGM Grand Hotel, the show DOES go on… twenty years later.

In conjunction with McLaren Engineering, the stage for the Cirque show “KA” is still being lifted in the air by Atlantic Hydraulic Systems.

Now the term stage may be an understatement. This is actually the world’s largest stage, weighing in at 200 tons, and lifted 70 feet in the air at two feet per second as it tilts 100 degrees. It’s a marvel that truly challenges people’s perception… accomplished through a 4,000-horsepower hydraulic power unit and control system designed, engineered, and manufactured by Atlantic Hydraulic Systems.

Little did the audience know on opening night in February 2005 how long the stage took to become reality… with a phone call three years prior. All they saw was a show that seemed to defy gravity… a fact that did not escape the New York Times as they entitled their review “Fire, Acrobatics and Most of All, Hydraulics.” And 20 years later, the show is still making people gasp with delight and terror at the same time.

So obviously something so complex with functionality that was almost unthinkable had its share of challenges. The answer is a resounding “Yes”. Tuning a hydraulic system that sits on (4) 12” bore cylinders x 70-foot stroke had its “moments”. The stage, when in the elevated position, sits on about 1600 gallons of oil, rendering the hydraulic natural frequency of the system incredibly low (basically, it’s a big spring). But with a peak system flow of 2200 GPM at 4000 PSI, system failure was not an option. So, all hydraulic pumps, valves, and controls have redundant and/or soft-landing functionality in case of a component malfunction.

The Atlantic team spent months at the MGM Grand making alterations to the hydraulic system, fine-tuning the hydraulic motion control, and testing and retesting. The result was a reliable hydraulic system that 20 years later has proven its reliability and resiliency.

KA was just one of many entertainment projectsthat depend on Atlantic firepower utilizing its hydraulic power units & hydraulic controls. These include Broadway shows such as The Lion King, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables and many more.


For the first time in over three decades new nuclear reactors are under construction in the United States at Georgia Nuclear Power Plant – The Vogtle Electric Generating Plant

Atlantic Hydraulic Systems is providing a key component to the new reactors at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia: Turbine Jack Oil Systems.

What Is A Turbine Jacking Oil System?

Atlantic’s Turbine Jacking Oil Pumps are specially designed to reduce high friction in turning gears between rotor and bearings during start up of a turbine and then  shut down

In other words, the jacking oil pump is used in large turbine systems (like those found in a nuclear reactor) to prevent metal-to-metal contact in the bearings during turbine start-up.

How Does The Turbine Jacking Oil System Function?

The Turbine Jacking Oil System essentially lifts the heavy turbine rotor shafts until the turbine itself is spinning fast enough to create dynamic lift.

More specifically, the heavy rotor is prevented from rubbing against the bearing’s white metal or babbit bedding area at low speeds through the production of a hydrostatic oil film when the rotational speed is too low to produce a hydrodynamic oil film (or self-lubrication).

This hydrostatic film reduces the break-away torque during run-up of the turbine rotor during high friction start up, shut down and slow speed (turning gear) periods.

How Are The Turbine Jacking Oil Systems Going To Specifically Help The Vogtle Electric Generating Plant?

The two new Georgia Power Co. reactors at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant will account for 2500 MW of power produced by Westinghouse AP1000 Power Plants.

The seven jacking oil pump packages from Atlantic Hydraulic Systems are required for the low-pressure turbine and generator bearings which are mounted on support platforms attached or adjacent to the turbines and generator.

The pumps are specifically capable of producing 1.5 GPM @ 3500 PSI to the bearings.

Other features of the systems include: ASME system relief valve, pump pulsation dampener, non-bypass 5 micron hydraulic filter, pressure & differential pressure feedback instrumentation.

Why Are The New Nuclear Reactors A Big Deal?

The new Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 are the first new nuclear units built in the United States in the last three decades. Once complete, the addition of the new Vogtle units will give the plant enough capability to produce safe, reliable, affordable electricity to power one million Georgia homes and businesses.


Chapman is managing Atlantic’s Mobile Launcher 2 Hydraulic Systems Project for NASA’s new rocket program which looks to put the first woman on the moon as early as 2024.

SHIRLEY, NY – March 11, 2022 (Atlantic Hydraulic Systems): With the Artemis Program – NASA hopes to put the first woman on the moon as early as 2024, and Atlantic Hydraulic Systems is answering the call by naming Christina Chapman as project manager for a critical system they are developing to help NASA’s launch effort.

Chapman is managing the NASA Mobile Launcher 2 (ML2) Hydraulics Systems Project which is specifically used for NASA’s new SLS rocket program. While much of Chapman’s work is classified, Atlantic’s president, Robert Ferrara, notes “the hydraulic systems [Chapman is managing and helping design] will supply the launch actuators with high pressure hydraulic fluid during the liftoff sequence”. The ML2, and the new SLS rocket, will spark the imagination of lunar travel for a brand new generation of men and women for years to come.

Ms. Chapman says of her role, “I have been able to jump right into new, exciting projects in my short time at Atlantic, like the ML2 Launcher unit. I am looking forward to continuing to grow my skill set and knowledge with the team at Atlantic.” Chapman started at Atlantic in January 2022.

Chapman worked for nine years at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as a mechanical engineer in the Nuclear Engineering department specializing in Reactor Plant cleanliness and Reactor Plant system valves. Now she finds herself as a key member of the Atlantic team to aid NASA’s ambitious goals.

Per NASA, “With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.” NASA hopes to “collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon…and use what we learn…to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars”.  Another intention for Artemis to go back to the moon is to motivate a new generation of potential explorers NASA has dubbed, “The Artemis Generation”.

Atlantic Hydraulic Systems is proud to serve their part in the historic Artemis program, and excited to add their 38 years of experience to the project.  Atlantic is also excited to name an incredible talent like Christina Chapman, during National Women’s Month, to lead their contribution to NASA’s effort to return to the moon and explore the far reaches of space.

About Atlantic Hydraulic Systems

Founded by Charlie and Eleanor Ferrara in 1983, Atlantic Hydraulic Systems has been designing top quality Hydraulic and Control systems for clients like the U.S Navy, General Dynamics, Chevron, Siemens, Pratt & Whitney and NASA.

Contact: Robert Ferrara

Company Name: Atlantic Hydraulic Systems

Contact Phone Number: (631)234-3131

Contact E-mail:

Website URL:

The powerful Hurricane Ida was a deadly and destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that became the second-most damaging storm to ever strike U.S soil, just behind Katrina. It also caused catastrophic flooding across New England. 

What Are Levee Gates?

A levee is a man-made structure designed to control the flow of water and debris to prevent flooding. Levees are used across the world in areas close to sea level to protect lives and infrastructure. The hydraulically operated levee gates open the levees to allow marine traffic to pass through the protected waterways during normal weather conditions

These levees are critical in New Orleans, which is constantly at risk of severe flooding. 

Check Out Our Collection Of Hydraulic Power Units!

Hydraulic Levee Gates In New Orleans

Back in 2010, the Army Corps of Engineers invested $14 Billion in fortifying the New Orleans Levee system to protect the city.

Although there were a handful of hurricanes to hit the area, Ida was the first major Hurricane to challenge Atlantic Hydraulic Systems’ 17 hydraulically powered levee gates that protect New Orleans.

Our team was honored with engineering, manufacture, and commission of the hydraulic power units and PLC control systems for the levee gates.

One key in the system’s design is that it’s protected from the extremely corrosive environment in the New Orleans area. Therefore, our engineers specified a great deal of stainless steel hydraulic components on the projects.

Rigorous maintenance programs and hydraulic oil testing & conditioning played a considerable role in the recent successful gate operation that prevented catastrophic flooding.

You’ll find our experts happy to answer any questions you have about hydraulic fluids!

Have you ever sat down and wondered to yourself, “How does a hydraulic press work?” We actually think about it all the time here at Atlantic Hydraulic Systems. 

The fundamentals of a hydraulic press were actually made possible because of a French philosopher named Blaise Pascal. In fact, Pascal theorized and developed what we now know as Pascal’s Law.

In this article, we’ll delve into Pascal’s Law, the mechanics of hydraulic presses, exploring the force exerted, pressure applied, and the fascinating principles that make them tick.

What Is Pascal’s Law? 

A change in pressure at any point in an enclosed incompressible fluid at rest is transmitted equally and undiminished to all points in all directions throughout the fluid and acts at a right angle to the enclosing walls.

How Does A Hydraulic Press Work?

Hydraulic presses harness the hydraulic principle, a concept grounded in Pascal’s Law, to perform various tasks. This hydraulic principle dictates that any pressure applied to an incompressible fluid within an enclosed system will be transmitted uniformly in all directions.

In a hydraulic press, there are two interconnected cylinders: a larger cylinder and a smaller cylinder. High-pressure hydraulic oil is supplied to the larger cylinder, creating an increase in pressure. As per Pascal’s Law, this increase in pressure is transmitted undiminished throughout the fluid. Consequently, it exerts a substantial amount of force on the piston within the larger cylinder.

This force is then leveraged to extend the larger cylinder, which in turn exerts pressure on the object being pressed. The mechanical force applied to the smaller cylinder is multiplied many times over, resulting in a force exerted on the object that is significantly greater than the initial force applied to the hydraulic system.

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This process is a direct application of Pascal’s Law. The law states that the pressure applied to any part of the enclosed liquid will be transmitted equally in all directions through the liquid.

You may have already seen the damaging effects of a hydraulic press on everyday household items in Youtube Videos. Still, a hydraulic press is even strong enough to flatten a solid natural diamond in an instant!

Why Use Hydraulic Presses?

The application of hydraulic systems in presses includes various benefits, making them a preferred choice over mechanical alternatives:

  • Cost-Effective: Hydraulic presses are a cost-effective solution for a wide range of tasks.
  • Durability: They are known for their durability and minimal breakdowns.
  • Precise Control: Hydraulic systems offer precise control over the amount of force exerted and the speed of operation.
  • Noise Reduction: Hydraulic presses operate more quietly than their mechanical counterparts.
  • Power Amplification: These systems can efficiently convert a small input of power into a substantial force output, illustrating the power of Pascal’s Law.

In addition to their use in presses, hydraulic systems find applications in various fields, including hydraulic brakes and numerous industrial processes. The capacity to harness the hydraulic principle and Pascal’s Law in hydraulic presses demonstrates the remarkable efficiency of incompressible fluids in transmitting force and pressure.

Understanding how a hydraulic press works involves appreciating the fundamental hydraulic principle governed by Pascal’s Law. This principle allows hydraulic systems to magnify mechanical force many times over, making them indispensable in various industries and applications.

You’ll find our experts happy to answer any questions you have about hydraulic fluids and presses!

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, hydraulic systems have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Hydraulic systems use liquids, usually oils, as their working fluids. These liquids are stored in a closed system and pumped to where they are needed when pressure is applied.

Why Liquids Are Well Suited For Hydraulics

A hydraulic machine is a device that uses liquid fluid power, such as water or oil, to perform work. Heavy construction vehicles are a typical example of hydraulic machines.

Hydraulic systems are confined pressurized systems that use and store liquids and this is an advantage over pneumatic units as the hydraulic fluid itself is not very compressible so doesn’t suffer from delays in movement, unlike a gas-based pneumatic system which needs a compressor to compensate for this task.

Check Out Our Collection Of Hydraulic Power Units!

In this machine, the liquid fluid, oil in most cases, is pumped to various motors and cylinders throughout the vehicle, which becomes pressurized according to the resistance present.

-Liquids are basically incompressible thus leading to tight control of cylinder or hydraulic motor movement and positioning.
-Small and flexible tubes, hoses, and pipes can move a lot of power over long distances and around sharp bends.
-Liquid fluids can be safely pumped to higher pressures than gasses thus transmitting more power than gasses.
-Hydraulic force can be multiplied easily without mechanical gears and with little concern for the distance between mechanically driven objects.
-Liquids (hydraulic oil) provides lubrication to rotating equipment such as hydraulic pumps.
-Liquids (hydraulic oil) provides rust and corrosion protection to hydraulic components.


Learning how liquids work in hydraulic systems is an essential first step to understanding the benefits of using them. In addition, we have helped many customers design and build their custom oil-based hydraulic systems, so we know that they can be a massive asset to your business!

If you want help designing or maintaining a system like this, give us a call. You’ll find our engineers happy to answer any questions about hydraulic fluids and fluid dynamics or anything else related to hydraulics engineering.

In these days of increasing energy costs as well as the push to lower our carbon footprint, there are some simple ways to design a hydraulic system that consumes less energy.

This blog will cover several key areas to consider in the design of an efficient hydraulic power unit. You will learn how all of these parts come together to make a complex and energy-efficient system.

Correct Hydraulic Pump Specification

When the hydraulic pump is specified for an application, it should be sized close to the system flow requirements unless flow upside possibilities are required for the system.

Pump Style Selection

The two basic hydraulic pump types are fixed and variable displacement.

The fixed displacement pump will always produce flow based on the motor speed and the pump’s displacement. If the system is idle but still running, the fixed displacement pump will produce flow and push oil over the relief valve using energy.

It is common to “dump” this oil back to the tank freely using an unloading valve or a directional valve with an open center. Another option is to lower the pressure during idle times with a 2-pressure relief valve or proportional relief valve. Fixed displacement pumps are often preferred for low usage applications where the unit is not running all day.

The variable displacement pump will only produce flow when the outlet pressure is less than the set pressure for the pump. Once the pump pressure is reached the pump goes into “neutral” automatically and waits for the pressure to drop to produce flow again.

The pressure often drops when a valve is opened to move a cylinder or hydraulic motor. These types of pumps still use energy even when spinning in neutral. Lowering this deadhead pressure during idle times will decrease energy usage. Variable displacement pumps generally use less energy than fixed displacements pumps.

Use of Inverter Drives

A good device to consider if you want to make your power unit more efficient, as it allows you to adjust the output speed of the unit’s motor and pump; some modern drives can make units 50% more energy efficient while also reducing noise levels and environmental impact.

System piping

In the design stage of a power unit and its installation, it is always best to try to minimize and bends in the system as this will allow the hydraulic fluid to flow more freely and efficiently. Pipe sizing is crucial to minimize pressure losses that add to the power requirements.

The Uses Of Hydraulic Power Systems

When deciding what kind of Hydraulic Power system that you will purchase it is best to look at your individual needs. What pressure and flow will you need? There are options ranging from up to 25HP to over 100HP to suit all situations.

Hydraulic power systems are used in everything from bridge building to general construction. At its simplest, you may have hydraulic power used firsthand in the form of a hand jack then from a 1500 HP diesel engine. From this example, it is easy to see how a low amount of force can be spread out to accomplish much more work.

A full hydraulic system often includes an accumulator, hydraulic cylinder, control valves, heat-exchanger, relief valve, pump, filter, and reservoir.


It is important to remember that Hydraulic systems are heavy pieces of machinery and therefore require specific training to properly use them. There are training courses available to certify any of your personnel who might be using this system.

The biggest mistake people make is thinking that because it is just fluid that it is not dangerous. When in fact the fluid itself can be incredibly dangerous causing serious burning.

Furthermore, even though these systems are small they can produce a lot of force. Make sure that if you are looking into hydraulic systems that you fully understand the safety measures required to maintain them.

Phosphate Ester fluids are not easy on hydraulic components, especially when there is degradation in the fluid. There is a point in the life of an EHC hydraulic power unit where the returns of replacing the HPU outweigh the replacement component, maintenance, and downtime.

  • Replacement EHC HPUs (Hydraulic Power Units) generally contain:
  • Redundant 60 HP motors
  • Redundant 4000 PSI 55 GPM pressure compensated piston pumps
  • Reservoir sizes from 100 – 1000 gallons
  • Duplex Pressure line filters and suction line filters
  • Reservoir Heaters
  • Heat Exchangers
  • Bladder style accumulators
  • Instrumentation such as Pressure transmitters, Oil Level transmitters, Temperature transmitters
  • Parker PVS Vacuum Dehydrator Phosphate Ester Oil Conditioning Unit: 5 – 20 GPM, 1-micron filtration, Water removal

Replacement systems are designed with component accessibility, redundancy, and system availability in mind. Most are custom designed to match your existing system with upgrades on any aspect required.

Atlantic’s engineers will specially design a system to provide redundant hydraulic oil flow and pressure to throttle valve spindle, shut down valves, and other control servo valves to control your turbine speed.

Call to speak to an engineer about your application (631) 234-3131

How do I prevent air from getting into my hydraulic oil?


Does it sound like there are marbles in your hydraulic pump? Does your cylinder keep creeping even after you have closed a valve to stop it?

All hydraulic fluid contains air. It is part of hydraulic oil’s makeup to contain up to 12% of dissolved air. Dissolved air in hydraulic oil is not problematic but “Free Air” or “Entrained Air” can cause serious issues. Outside of foaming of oil on the surface air can be present in three forms in hydraulic oil:

  • Dissolved Air – 6% to 12% of hydraulic oil is dissolved air by volume naturally.
  • Entrained Air – these are air bubbles usually 1mm or less spread throughout the oil
  • Free Air – is often a “pocket” of air trapped in part of the system such as a cylinder, hydraulic conductor or in a hydraulic pump.

Free air can usually be minimized by pre-filling and bleeding a hydraulic system prior to start-up. Entrained air occurs most often as a result of air making its way into a hydraulic system via the pump inlet. Leaks in suction lines or low reservoir oil level will allow free air to enter into the inlet of the pump. The free air will become entrained air as it exits the pump and the oil is compressed. Peak temperatures will develop and oxidation of the oil will occur. When these air bubbles pop, cavitation occurs and erosive wear increases significantly causing component damage.

Entrained air can also form from dissolved air when gaseous cavitation occurs. Common causes of this phenomenon are:

  • Clogged suction strainers or inlet filters
  • Turbulence on inlet side of pump
  • Too much lift required between pump inlet and reservoir oil level
  • Suction lines having too much restriction or being too small
  • Intake line being collapsed

Proper design, start-up and maintenance guidelines must be followed to prevent air contamination in a hydraulic system.

Bottom line is your hydraulic oil should not look like a milkshake or a well poured Guinness waiting to settle. Hydraulic oil should be relatively clear.

Fluid Viscosity is sometimes referred to as dynamic viscosity or absolute viscosity. The fluid’s resistance to flow is caused by shearing stress within a flowing fluid and between a flowing fluid and its container. It’s basically the thickness of the fluid.
Many different factors have to be considered when specifying hydraulic oil viscosity, including system temperatures, pressures, and environmental factors.
Hydraulic components can suffer reduced lifespans and early failures if the wrong fluid is used. Pump and system performance and longevity can be significantly affected by using different viscous fluids.
The size and structure of molecule chains are crucial factors in measuring a fluid’s viscosity, and the larger the molecules’ thicker the fluid.
The viscosity of a fluid can be greatly affected by various elements, especially temperature. As the system temperature increases, the fluid viscosity begins to decrease. The opposite is true when system temperature drops.
Ideally, a hydraulic fluid that maintained constant viscosity would be the ultimate. Some hydraulic fluids perform better than others as temperature varies.
Multi-grade fluids typically have a high viscosity index meaning that they are less sensitive to temperature change than typical monograde oil.

How to Determine the Right Fluid Viscosity

The first thing that needs to be completed is to check on the acceptable viscosity grade of your hydraulic components, especially the hydraulic pump. Manufacturers will list what the optimal viscosity range is for their components (mainly pumps). Hydraulic fluid (oil) manufacturers will also give an oil viscosity range of their product based on temperature either on a chart or with two temperature data points for interpolation.

blankAn example of a chart that shows the hydraulic oils’ viscosity range

The proper design method is to choose an oil that sits well in the components, especially the pump. The hydraulic power unit must be designed to maintain the operating temperature range desired to keep in this range. This often requires heat exchangers or immersion heaters in the oil, depending on the application and ambient temperature. Instead of a fixed displacement pump, a pressure-compensated pump will often help hold the fluid temperature at a relative constant.
The optimal way to control temperature and, therefore, viscosity is during the initial design phase. Choose the right components and design a system that can keep oil temperatures at a relative constant.
Atlantic Hydraulic Systems has a skilled team of engineers who are always happy to guide you through hydraulic system requirements and specifications and advise you on fluid suitability.