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power take-off (PTO)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Power take-off (PTO) is a device that transfers an engine’s mechanical power to another piece of equipment. A PTO allows the hosting energy source to transmit power to additional equipment that does not have its own engine or motor. For example, a PTO helps to run a jackhammer using a tractor engine. PTOs are commonly used in farming equipment, trucks and commercial vehicles.

Several types of hydraulicpneumatic and mechanical PTO applications include agriculture equipment like wood chippers, harvesters, hay balers to commercial vehicle tools like carpet-cleaning vacuums, water pumps and mechanical arms.

PTO was developed mainly through the ingenuity of farmers. In the past, power take-off used belt drives, drive shaft attachments and pneumatics like bleed air, but a geared transmission is more common today.

Because PTOs are often exposed to the elements, safely handling the mechanical power source is essential. Operators should be aware of how to use PTO accessories safely and always power down and remove keys from the ignition for any maintenance.

Learn more about truck PTO:

This was last updated in March 2017

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