The Basics of Tractor Implement Maintenance
Tractor Implement Maintenance
All tractor implements such as slashers, flail mowers, spreaders and finishing mowers, need maintenance from scheduled oil changes and greasing to keeping running gear aligned and ground-engaging tools in good order. Learn the basics of Tractor Implement Maintenance in this article!
Most of the time, the longevity of a machine relies on the operator and an understanding of how the implement works, its restrictions and capabilities. Reading the Manual to understand the implement is a must; as a result, operation expectations are realised, and safety aspects are understood.
Some implements are used more frequently than others, so keeping a record of use is a good idea. This will ensure the implement is serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. When an implement has not been used for a long time, it is a good idea to check oil conditions and levels before operating to save expensive replacement costs due to condensation build-up, water in oil or seal failure causing the gearbox to run dry.
The Power Take Off (PTO) shaft is the system that delivers power to your implement. Therefore, understanding how it operates is essential to ensure user safety. It is also imperative to know maintenance requirements to prevent potential mechanical problems. PTO shafts have a rating and are not necessarily interchangeable between tractors or implements, making fitting the correct shaft to the implement vital, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, and ensuring it is the correct length.
- Length: The length of the PTO shaft is determined when setting up an implement on a tractor for the first time. If shortening of the PTO shaft is required, the operator must use the supplier’s formula to cut the shaft to the correct length. This is usually done by taking measurements from the tractor output shaft and implement input shaft to implement where the PTO shaft will be at its shortest.
- Too long: If your PTO shaft is too long (or the telescopic tubes have seized), “end thrust” can destroy your tractor’s internal PTO drive or implement clutch and gearbox, potentially voiding your machine warranty.
- Too Short: If the shaft is too short, it could potentially separate from the implement posing major safety issues and possible damage.
We recommend you read our article: MATCHING THE CORRECT IMPLEMENT TO YOUR TRACTOR
PTO Shaft Maintenance
The PTO shaft should be greased regularly to keep the universal joints from failing and to stop the shaft from seizing. Failure to grease your shaft regularly or as outlined in the PTO shaft’s maintenance schedule could result in end thrust potentially destroying the implement’s gearbox. It is recommended to grease standard universal joints every 20 hours or 8 hours for severe conditions. Remember! Grease follows the easiest path through internal ports to the four cross bearings. Overheating and poor-quality grease baked in one port will prevent grease from reaching that bearing, resulting in the failure of individual cross bearings.
Most importantly, fully open the guard cover to ensure grease flows to all cross bearings. Greasing through the small guard access hole is not good enough. Also, check the state of the PTO safety guards. If they are damaged or in poor condition, arrange replacement assuring the operator’s safety.
PTO Shaft Compliance
When purchasing an implement, ensure it meets Australian Standards. Please don’t assume it complies because it is sold in the Australian market. Some implements, especially implements sold online, do not meet Australian Standards.
Please also ensure that the PTO Shaft supplied with the implement is Australian Compliant; again, many sold in the Australian market are not. If you need more clarification, ask and do your research.
If your implement has hydraulics, whether for movement or motor drive, it is important to run the hoses so they can’t be damaged by movement or pinch points. Checking hoses frequently for damage/wear to prevent hydraulic fluid injuries or machine failure is also important.
When dealing with hydraulics, it is highly likely that you are also dealing with some high pressures. Severe injuries or fatalities can be caused by improper use of hydraulics, poor fittings, damaged hoses and cheap unrated hoses. Some hoses have a diffusing sleeve to prevent extremely high-pressure oil from entering the body or causing severe lacerations.
The clutch is installed on the PTO driveline, protecting your machinery/tractor. The clutch will “slip” when it meets a heavy load bearing or when the implement hits a solid object. The dealer or manufacturer usually sets the clutch; however, you may need to adjust the clutch settings in some circumstances. If the clutch is slipping under light loads, you can tighten the clutch, referring to the manufacturer’s instructions. Refit and test the clutch for any further slippage. If the slippage continues, repeat the step again.
Be careful not to over-tighten the clutch. This will eliminate slipping altogether, making the clutch ineffective and potentially resulting in the gearbox or PTO failure. Please also be aware that if the clutch is too loose, the clutch wear discs will prematurely deteriorate and require replacement.
Check as per your Manual instructions. When servicing, ensure you are using the recommended oil and filling to the required level. Before operation, visually inspect the gearbox for leaks and seal failure.
Shafts And Belts
The main issue for these systems is tension on the V-belts and pulleys. Check your manual for instructions, and replace worn belts as required. Check belts for foreign materials to prevent unnecessary wear and dry materials that could catch fire due to friction created.
Nuts, Bolts And Washers
Going over blades, nuts and bolts after every operation is a good idea to ensure everything is tight and in good working order. The vibrations caused by operation will sometimes affect the torqued setting from the factory. If anything is loose, you may need to retighten the bolts.
Changing the nuts/bolts/washers is also a good idea if there is any sign of wear and tear.
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