Do All Tractors Have PTO? (Solved & Explained!)

Most tractors on the market have PTO, especially the modern-day models. You can find PTO on utility tractors, row crop tractors, and even compact tractors. It would be difficult to find a tractor without PTO since they came out in 1918. Not all PTO power outputs are created equal, some can run all day everyday while some can only operate for short periods of time.

The following article covers the most common questions about tractor PTOs, including the different types of PTOs, the machines that they run, and how to engage PTOs on modern tractors.

What does PTO stand for?

PTO stands for power take-off and is the device that transfers power from the tractor’s engine to a farming implement that doesn’t create its own power. A PTO is a common accessory on tractors that typically consists of a clutch assembly with a shaft and bearings in a cast iron housing.

Is PTO important to have on a tractor?

It is important to have a PTO on your tractor if you are going to be using farming equipment and machines that require a PTO to operate. If you don’t have a PTO, these machines will not work properly, and the job will not be able to be finished with the highly efficient equipment available. This type of equipment saves farmers time and labor costs, while allowing them to farm very large areas, and undertake extensive projects.

What types of machines require PTOs to run?

  • Harvesters
  • Mowers
  • Cotton pickers
  • Rotary Tiller
  • Power Harrow
  • Ratoon Manager
  • Baler
  • Potato Digger
  • Post Hole Digger
  • Mulcher
  • Shredder
  • Water Pump Generator
  • Thresher
  • Dredgers
  • Soil Planers

When was PTO on tractors first available on the market?

The International Harvester Company first added PTOs to some of its production tractors in 1918. The first models connected directly to the tractor’s transmission, which exposed the transmission’s moving parts to possible damage. Since then, PTOs have become common on modern tractors and now protect the transmission from damage, have standardized structures for safety, and have universal compatibility.  

Do all PTOs conform to the same standards?

Not all tractors with PTO have the same abilities. Some older and less common models have different power outputs and run times than modern PTOs. Large tractors with PTOs will work faster and more efficiently than the PTOs on small tractors. To ensure that no parts become damaged it is important to check the tractor’s operating manual before you attach any implements to its PTO for the first time.

What types of PTOs are on the market?

  • Transmission PTO – This type of PTO connects directly to the transmission and can only transfer power when the gear is engaged.
  • Live PTO – This type of PTO has a separate clutch and can transfer power even when the gear is not engaged; but the tractor must be stopped to do so.
  • Independent PTO – This type of PTO also has a separate clutch and can transfer power even when the gear is not engaged; but the tractor doesn’t have to be stopped to do so.

What is the difference between Live PTO and Independent PTO?

Both Live PTO and Independent PTO are modern devices that allow farmers to transfer power to heavy equipment when the gear is not engaged, but they differ in how they are designed to engage with the separate equipment.

The differences in the mode of engagement are as follows:

  • Live PTOs require a clutch for engagement, while its possible to engage independent PTOs without a clutch.
  • An independent PTO can be engaged while moving, but its it impossible to engage a live PTO while the tactor is moving.

What is reverse PTO?

Typical PTOs can only rotate in one direction, but reverse PTOs can be modified to reverse the direction of rotation if necessary. This can be beneficial for situations where implements can get stuck and when equipment can get broken if it can’t go in reverse.

Do all PTOs rotate in the same direction?

Yes, all PTOs of the same type are designed to rotate in the same direction so the implements and machine are interchangeable and will all work with the standard PTOs available on all modern tractors. If the rotation direction wasn’t standard, you would be able to switch between all the different equipment needed to run a farming operation.

                If you are an observer sitting in the operator’s seat and facing the PTO while it rotates, then:

  • Rear-mounted PTOs rotate clockwise
  • Front-mounted PTOs rotate counterclockwise

How does a PTO on a tractor work?

The PTO shaft taps energy from the tractor’s engine and transfers it to a hydrologic pump that when filled with pressure will cause the hydraulic fluid to work its way to the hydraulic equipment on the machine to be powered.

What does the PTO shaft in a tractor do?

The shaft of the PTO is what transfers the energy from the engine to the farming equipment. There are many different types and series of PTO shafts, and the equipment and the tractor must match the shaft types for everything to work correctly.

How do you engage the PTO on a tractor?

  1. If it is a transmission or live PTO, then put the tractor in neutral and employ the parking brake before engaging the PTO.
  2. Press the clutch pedal down and switch the PTO to the “ON” position. Keep the clutch pressed down for 5 seconds to allow the PTO to properly engage.
  3. Slowly release the clutch and watch for the PTO indication light to come on.

How it is different when engaging an independent PTO on a tractor?

If it is an independent PTO, then you don’t have to stop the tractor because it is only necessary to slow down before engaging the PTO. An independent PTO also does not require you to engage the clutch to turn on the PTO. It is the quickest and easiest system for engaging the PTO which saves time and money in the field.