Is it usual for old rings being removed from a hydraulic piston to break? July 3, 2016.
The rings are made out of cast iron so they are by nature brittle. It is not unusual to break a new ring during the installation, though new rings seem to have more resilience than the old rings you are removing. It may have something to do with metal fatigue from use?
When installing the rings the end gaps should always be staggered, just like you do with engine piston rings. I also recommend using the later Ford NAA style O ring style piston, O ring and backup washer. The actual NAA version fits the TE/TO-20. TO-30 and TO-35 pistons, F-40 too I believe. There are larger diameter versions for the larger piston assemblies used on later model tractors up to and including the version used on the latest production tractors which use this style as standard equipment. The O-ring version works particularly well with lift cylinders that are scored or worn allowing you to salvage the old cylinder. There is nothing wrong with the original cast iron rings however.