How to Connect & Remove a PTO Shaft from Tractor

Mechanic connecting the tractor PTO shaft to the implement.

The Power Take-Off driveshafts provide power to your piece of equipment, and this equipment could be a rotary motor or a rotary tiller, or any other implement. Moreover, tractors with PTO driveshafts can pull any type of PTO-driven equipment. When the tractor’s PTO driveshaft engages with the implement’s PTO shaft, the shaft rotates around one thousand times every minute. 

The PTO shaft transfers this mechanical power to the implement to make it operational. Additionally, the tractor’s male driveshaft comes with splines that readily engage with the implement’s female driveshaft. They lock together via the button locks or locking pin. So, if you want to disconnect the PTO tractor from the implement, you should disengage the PTO shaft.

Connecting PTO on a Tractor

When engaging a transmission or live PTO, you need to change your tractor’s transmission to neutral and engage the parking brake before even trying to hook the PTO shaft. If your tractor is equipped with an independent PTO, you may go on with the succeeding steps mentioned below. Nevertheless, your tractor should not be moving at a breakneck speed when engaging the PTO shaft. 

Engaging Transmission or Live PTO

You can begin by stepping on the clutch pedal and let your foot stay in that position. Afterward, you can set to “ON” the PTO switch. You can find the PTO switch on the dashboard. Hold the clutch down for five seconds, and gradually release the pedal after five seconds. Once the PTO engages successfully, you will see a light indicator beside the PTO switch.  

Engaging Independent PTO

You will notice that the independent PTO is easier to engage than the transmission PTO. This is because you don’t need to step on the clutch pedal to accomplish it. Instead, you only need to switch the lever selector of the PTO out of the OFF position. Afterward, you should flip to the ON position the PTO switch. 

You will see the PTO selector switch and lever on the operator’s seat right side. It will be good to know that there are independent PTOs that come only with a PTO switch lever that acts as a switch. 

Once you switch to ON position this lever, the PTO immediately engages. Yet, this type of independent PTOs comes with the risk of accidentally engaging the PTOs. But the ones with separate PTO switch and selector lever are engineered for reducing the number of accidental engagements. 

If you do the abovementioned steps correctly, you will not experience excessive vibrations after the PTO shaft engages. It will also be good to note that every operator of PTO should have in mind the safety of those around when engaging the PTO. Ensure that no one is at risk of being hurt or injured accidentally by the PTO engagement.


How Can You Remove the PTO Shaft from Your Tractor?

There will be instances when the abovementioned steps seem to fail in removing the PTO from the tractor. In such a case, you may try some of the following tricks and tips to disengage the PTO from the tractor:

Using a Hammer

If the PTO shaft seems to be adamantly engaged to the tractor, you can force the issue and use a hammer to ease out the PTO shaft from the tractor. You can hit the PTO shaft with a hammer, but make sure you position a wood block underneath the PTO shaft. You don’t have to hit the PTO with so much force. Sometimes, you only need to give it a gentle nudge, and it will loosen up. 

However, if the hammering doesn’t work, you can apply more momentum to your hammer to wiggle free the stuck PTO shaft. But when using more force, you should take extra precautions to avoid destroying the components of the shaft, including its bearings and other parts. You do not want to end up with a damaged PTO shaft.

By Lubricating the Connection

If the cause of the jamming of the PTO shaft is corrosion, you can employ the lube method. The onset of rust will indeed happen, especially if the PTO shafts are exposed to moisture, and you don’t run the PTO shafts with grease for a long time. If the PTO shafts sit outside waiting for the next episode of using it, it will indeed corrode. 

To remedy such a problem of a PTO shaft getting stuck onto the tractor due to rust, you should lubricate the shaft with enough lubricating oil. In this way, you can ease it out of its engagement. Let the lube sits there for a while. Then, try to disengage the PTO shaft again. If it doesn’t budge, pour more oil onto it. Afterward, let it sit there for a while before attempting to pull it off the tractor. 

If it does not disengage, then nudge it with the sledgehammer. If it’s still stuck, you can try to heat a bit the periphery of the coupler. Afterward, tap the PTO coupling again to budge it. The combo of light taps and heat will make the stubborn PTO shaft give in.

You can also use WD40 to soak the stubborn parts. It will also aid in loosening the shaft. Penetrating oil may take some time to show its effect on the rusting PTO shaft. So, it will help to reapply it over and over again.

Use the Pry Bar to Disengage PTO Shaft

Another way to disengage the PTO shaft from the tractor is by dismantling the PTO shaft assembly. First, you need to knock out the pits to get enough elbow room. Then, dismantle the PTO shield. This is not that complicated to do; so, you will get by with this problem if you are used to tinkering. 

Afterward, you can get yourself a pry bar. Start prying while moving around. The thing is, you need to dismantle any stubborn locking mechanism. These locking mechanisms may be pins or balls. You will indeed succeed in dismantling these locking mechanisms. 

But if the shaft doesn’t budge, you need to sacrifice the coupler, yet you should do it as a last resort. If you are unsuccessful with all these methods, you can find a good grinder to cut everything apart. Of course, you need to do it with care and longitudinally. Refrain from damaging the tractor’s PTO gears, for it is more expensive to replace than the coupler.


Additional Tips

Aside from being cognizant of the abovementioned methods of disengaging stubborn PTO shafts, it will also help if you know the following additional tips:

  1. The abovementioned methods on disengaging the PTO shaft will only work well if the PTO shaft is still not broken or cracked. But you should only employ extreme measures if the splines are already worn-out or twisted. 
  2. Ensure that you turn off the tractor’s engine before you even dare remove the PTO shaft from it. This is a crucial reminder, for if you ignore it, you may end up witnessing a terrible accident that may be fatal or injurious to others or yourself. 
  3. You can concoct your penetrating oil if you don’t want to rely on the WD40. You can use a mixture of diesel and ATF with a 50:50 ratio. 
  4. Refrain from forcing or wrestling the shaft away from the tractor by using a chain to tie up the PTO coupler, then driving forward the tractor to disengage the PTO coupler. This method may backfire and cause injuries. Moreover, you may end up with a damaged PTO shaft and tractor. 
  5. Ensure that you follow all the safety protocols and wear the necessary safety gear when engaged in the abovementioned methods for disengaging the PTO shaft. 
  6. Refrain from disengaging the PTO shaft from a moving tractor, for it may cause severe injury or even death.

Conclusion

When farming or starting a farm, you will need some basic equipment to connect to your tractor to facilitate some farm works. You can connect these pieces of equipment via the PTO shaft. However, just like any mechanical equipment, the PTO shaft may also get stuck to the tractor and may be difficult to disengage, especially if it has been sitting there for a long time. So, if you have a hard time disengaging a stuck PTO shaft, you can find the methods mentioned above to disengage the PTO shaft handy. 

You must regularly maintain your PTO shaft to ensure that it will work well and disengage from the tractor with ease. Schedule the oiling and greasing of your implements and the PTO shaft to keep its universal joints in top-notch condition. Ensure that you open its guard cover fully to ensure that the grease is flowing across its bearings. Lastly, ensure that you check the PTO safety guards for any damage. Replace it if it is already in poor condition.

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