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Power Take-Off (PTO)

A Power Take-Off or Power Takeoff (PTO) is any of several methods for taking power from a power source, such as a running engine, and transmitting it to an application such as an attached implement or separate machines. Most commonly, it is a splined drive shaft installed on a tractor or truck allowing implements with mating fittings to be powered directly by the engine.

Use on commercial vehicles

Truck transmissions have one or more locations which allow for a PTO to be mounted. The PTO is engaged/disengaged using the main transmission clutch and a remote control mechanism which operates on the PTO itself. Typically an air valve is used to engage the PTO, but a mechanical linkage, electric or hydraulic mechanism are also options.

Units will be rated according to the continuous and intermittent torque that can be applied through them and different models will offer different "PTO shaft rotation to engine RPM" ratios.

In the majority of cases, the PTO will connect directly to a hydraulic pump. This allows for transmission of mechanical force through the hydraulic fluid system to any location around the vehicle where a hydraulic motor will convert it back into rotary or linear mechanical force. Typical applications include:

  • Running a water pump on a fire engine or water truck
  • Running a truck mounted hot water extraction machine for carpet cleaning (driving vacuum blower and high-pressure solution pumps)
  • Powering a blower system used to move dry materials such as cement
  • Raising a dump truck bed
  • Operating the mechanical arm on a bucket truck used by electrical maintenance personnel or Cable TV maintenance crews
  • Operating a winch on a tow truck
  • Operating the compactor on a garbage truck
  • Operating a Boom/Grapple truck
  • Operating a truck mounted tree spade and lift-mast assembly
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