Hydraulic Cylinder to Replace Upper Link on Tractor 3-Point Hitch

Richard L. Parish  |  2/9/2005 10:26:06 PM

A tractor 3-point hitch is handy and versatile. The upper link of a 3-point hitch is a turnbuckle that allows adjustment of the angle of the implement on the hitch. It may be necessary to adjust this link to allow the implement to be hitched, and it may also be necessary to adjust the link to get the correct angle for use of the implement.

Unfortunately, these turnbuckles are hard to turn under load and become even more stubborn if the threads rust or are dirty or if the arm gets bent. Adjusting that arm often means climbing off the tractor and sometimes requires using a wrench.

Replace Link With a Hydraulic Cylinder
It is possible to replace this link with a hydraulic cylinder (Figure 1). The cylinder connects to the tractor hydraulics with short, small-diameter hoses and allows the driver to change the angle of the hitch effortlessly from the tractor seat. Changing this angle can make it much easier to hitch and unhitch implements and makes a quick hitch even easier to use. It is also useful to adjust implement angle in the field. With some implements such as disk harrows angle is critical. Too often disks are run at an incorrect angle because the driver doesn’t want to get off the tractor and fight with adjusting the upper link. With a hydraulic cylinder, it is effortless and more likely to be done.

If You Don’t Have Remote Hydraulics on Your Tractor
Many small compact utility tractors do not have remote hydraulics, thus have no place to plug in the hydraulic lines to operate a cylinder. In other cases, a tractor may have remote outlets for one or two cylinders, but you need to keep those free for implements and have no outlets free. Some manufacturers offer hydraulic cylinders for the upper arm that do not require connection to the tractor. They have the two cylinder ports plumbed together with a valve and a small tank. You can’t use tractor power directly to adjust these cylinders, but you can open the valve and use the 3-point hitch to position the hitch as desired, then close the valve to hold that position.

In summary, using a hydraulic cylinder to replace the upper arm of the 3-point hitch can improve operator safety, make hitching easier and facilitate field adjustments. These cylinders work best in combination with a quick hitch.

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