In order to understand a hydraulic power take off clutch, also known as a PTO clutch, you must first understand how a regular clutch works on a car, and why we need it. To make a car drive forward there are two components that need to spin, the engine and wheels. Well, while the engine is turned on, it is always spinning. When you are in motion, the wheels are also spinning. When you stop at a light, however, the wheels stop, but the engine continues. The vehicle’s clutch makes this essential function possible.
A clutch is a mechanism that allows independent rotation in one part while the other is stationary. When the clutch is touching the flywheel, it is engaged, and your car is moving forward. When you disengage the clutch, the engine is spinning, but your wheels aren’t. This is conventionally known as being in neutral.
How PTO Clutches Are Different
A PTO industrial clutch uses the same mechanical principal, but applies it to accessory equipment. Whereas a car’s engine drives the wheels, a tractor or lawnmower engine drives the wheels and, when engaged, the blades underneath.
In many cases, the clutch pedal that is used with a PTO system is connected to fluid lines instead of steel. This type of clutch is a hydraulic PTO because it uses a liquid that applies pressure to the clutch plate in order to engage.
Another interesting quality of clutch mechanics is that the engine and drive shaft need to be moving at the same (or very similar) speeds to prevent wear on the clutch plate. Typically, the proper range for this speed is 540-1,000 revolutions per minute or between nine and 16.6 per second.
What are some common uses of hydraulic PTO clutches?
PTO clutches are used in countless pieces of industrial equipment. Here are a few common applications:
- Water pump on a fire engine
- Raising a dump truck bed
- Operating a winch on a tow truck
- Spinning the blades on a lawnmower
- Operating the compactor on a garbage truck
This technology uses what we know about auto mechanics and applies it to alternate accessory uses. This way, there doesn’t need to be a separate motor powering the fire hose or tractor blades. That would cost more money, be heavy and inefficient, and stack up poorly in power output in comparison to the fire truck’s engine. Hydraulic PTO clutches are critical to the industrial world, and they’re pretty neat too.