The Basics of Tractor Implement Maintenance

All tractor implements such as slashers, flail mowers, spreaders and finishing mowers need some form of maintenance. From scheduled oil changes and greasing to keeping running gear aligned and ground engaging tools in good order. 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 and as a result operation expectations are realized and safety aspects are understood.

Some implements are used more frequently than others so it is a good idea to keep a record of use. This will ensure the implement is serviced according to manufacturer’s recommendations. In the occasion where an implement has not been used for a long time it is a good idea to check oil condition and levels before operation to save expensive replacement costs due to condensation build up, water in oil or seal failure causing the gearbox to run dry.

PTO Shaft

The Power Take Off (PTO) shaft is the system that delivers power to your implement. It is therefore important to understand how it operates to ensure user safety. It is also imperative to be aware of maintenance requirements to prevent any potential mechanical problems. PTO shafts have a rating and are not necessarily interchangeable between tractors or implements. It is therefore important to fit the correct shaft to the implement, according to the manufacturer’s specifications and to make sure 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 normally 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 is the telescopic tubes have seized) “end thrust” can occur which can destroy your tractors 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.

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 reaching that bearing, resulting in failure of individual cross bearings. Most importantly ensure that you 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 safety of the operator.

PTO Shaft Compliance

When purchasing an implement make sure it meets Australian Standards don’t assume that it complies because it is sold in the Australian market. Some implements especially implements sold online do not meet the Australian Standards. Please also make sure that the PTO Shaft supplied with the implement is Australian Compliant again many sold in the Australian market are not. If you are not sure ask and do your research.


If your implement has hydraulics whether it is for movement or motor drive it is important to run the hoses in a manner where they can’t be damaged by movement or in 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 from improper use of hydraulics, poor fittings, damaged hoses and cheap unrated hoses. Some hoses are supplied with a diffusing sleave to prevent extremely high-pressured oil entering the body or causing serious lacerations.


The clutch is installed on the PTO driveline and is there to protect your machinery. 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 manufacturers 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 potentially resulting in gearbox or PTO failure. Please also be aware if the clutch is too loose then the clutch wear discs will prematurely deteriorate and will require replacement.


Check as per your manual instructions. Make sure when servicing that 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

It is a good idea to go over blades, nuts and bolts after every operation to make sure that everything is tight and in good working order. The vibrations caused by operation will sometimes affect the torqued setting from factory. If anything is loose you may need to retighten bolts. It is also a good idea to change the nuts/bolts/washers if there is any sign of wear and tear.

Looking for Help with Your Tractor Implements?

Southern Cross Ag Machinery is your instant solution for all types of implements. Our large network of dealers can assist you with any help you need. Call us 02 4932 3011 or contact us. We’ll be happy to help.