How often should you service your PTO shafts and why is servicing so important?
The power take-off shaft (PTO shaft) harnesses the mechanical power of your tractor and transfers it to power an attached implement. And it’s that huge force that contains the danger about which some users can become worryingly complacent. Serious injuries related to PTO shafts, and sometimes fatalities, still happen across Europe every year, mainly through entanglement. Others happen when a PTO shaft separates while the machines are in use, striking the farmer, a farmhand or even a family member. A regularly properly serviced power take-off shaft is far safer in operation. We teamed up with PTO shaft expert Walterscheid to talk servicing and maintenance for safety.
Before we talk more about PTO shaft servicing and maintenance, though, we want to highlight the importance of the PTO shaft guard, also referred to as a PTO shield. The guard and end cones will cover almost the entire shaft, and the bearing rings fitted inside the guard allow the shaft to rotate at speed, while the guard remains stationary. This is to stop clothes, bootlaces or anything else from snagging on the shaft and dragging anyone or anything against and around the shaft. A snagged coat or bootlace can result in horrific injuries or death, as there is no time to react. Inspect your PTO shaft guards after every single use. If they are dented or misshapen, are coming loose or are beginning to turn with the shaft, they need repair or replacement immediately.
How often should a PTO shaft be serviced?
You may already have read our article on how to extend the lifespan of a PTO drive shaft. The top tip on lubrication demonstrates why there’s so much uncertainty around PTO shaft maintenance and servicing: depending on the manufacturer, the model of shaft and what it’s being used for, it might need fresh lubrication as frequently as every 8 hours of use, or only every 250 hours! It’s quite a range...
Thankfully, after a five-year programme involving extensive laboratory and field trials, PTO shaft manufacturer Walterscheid has developed a new system for working out the correct maintenance interval for PTO shafts. The company calls it the ServicePlus System and it’s been made possible by improving a whole array of Walterscheid PTO drive shaft components, from cross seals to profile tubes. The result is that maintenance effort can be reduced by as much as 70% for some power take-off shafts.
The new system breaks down the maintenance intervals into hours, according to particular models in the range and the application on site. It’s summed up neatly in the chart you see here. For example, the joints of a Series W drive shaft can be serviced every 100 hours of operation when used to pick maize, but every 250 hours if fitted with the company’s P-Seal. On the other hand, if the Series W drive shaft is used exclusively for lifting potatoes, then the joints – and the rest of the shaft – will need attention every 50 hours of operational use. Note that the joints, guard bearings and profile tubes may need checking and lubricating at different intervals, depending on the model and the use.
The benefits to the farmer include less frequent ‘just-in-case’ maintenance and much less risk of damage to the shaft itself, the surrounding machinery and, of course, to workers. As an added bonus, it’s also more ecologically friendly, because there’s less lubricant being used. Walterscheid also uses high-performance lubricant (Shell Retinax GL-2) for all its PTO shafts, which is a vital factor in achieving the predictability of the new system.
The ServicePlus System can, of course, only be applied to Walterscheid products. As ever, farmers using PTO shafts made by other manufacturers will have to rely on any guidance provided when they purchased the part.
The peace of mind and financial saving from reduced downtime is only possible because Walterscheid has tested each PTO shaft model – distinguishing between wide-angle and standard drive shafts - against each in-use application, to work out those safe maintenance intervals. Less intensive applications, like mowing grass or picking maize, are given the maintenance class W1, while more arduous work like tilling the soil is categorised as maintenance class W2.
We recommend farmers and machinery operators print off the chart and keep it wherever they store their PTO shafts when not in use. Logging hourly usage, day by day, on a chart kept in the same place, will make it reassuringly easy to service this most vital of equipment.
You’ll find a range of Walterscheid PTO shafts in the Kramp web shop, and this article on choosing the right PTO shaft will make the buying process simple. And don’t forget, for questions on any farming equipment from all of our suppliers, there’s no better source of advice than your Kramp account manager.
This article was written by:Editorial email@example.com