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successful adoption of quick hitch system

Topic Type: 

A quick update from our farm here in Quebec where adoption of the triangle quick hitch was our big winter/spring machinery project for last year. We've now had a full season to evaluate the system and we're pretty darn happy about our decision to adopt this tool.

Last winter I purchased prefab male triangles for each of our 3-pt hitch tractors (3) and also hydraulic top links for each. With a friend who aimed to convert his fleet too I spent 6 days of shop time fabricating female triangles and a couple more male "adapter" triangles to complete the assembly of materials. Cost per female triangle was about $25-$30 CDN if I remember correctly. Male adapters cost about $60 in materials but don't include a clever locking mechanism, used the French bolt-down lock. Male adapters primarily built to allow sharing implements with neighbours who haven't adopted triangle hitch.

Last spring I started the process of converting our 3-pt hitched implements to female triangles, almost always welding the female triangle to the implement. I'm not interested in resale value and I had a lot of tools to convert so I needed each conversion to be simple whenever possible. Simple = A) cut off the 3-pt hitch bits with a torch, B) grind smooth, C) weld on a triangle using scraps from step A) to make gussets, braces, spacers, etc. On average I'd say implement conversion took 3 hours though some were more like 2 and a couple took all day. I've posted some notes on hitch installation, PTO shaft length considerations and robustness of the triangle hitches elsewhere on this tool forum.

We now have 3 tractors equipped with quick hitches and hydraulic top links and 14 implements that can be hitched without leaving the operator's seat. We can switch tractors and implements easily and safely, as often as we like. There are a few rarely used or tricky tools (mouldboard plow) still to convert and I may get to them this winter or at a later date but I made a bunch of extra female hitches when we were in fabrication mode so that these or newly acquired tools can be converted rapidly to join the fleet.

We invested a significant amount of time and money to make this all work and to convert all tools and tractors in the same year to reap the full benefits of the system from the outset. All told we probably spent $3000 on parts and materials and 100 to 150 salaried hours. By the end of the season everyone on the farm agreed that it was money well spent and one of the great successes of 2014.

I'm happy to share what I learned and some useful tips and tricks with anyone looking to adopt this system to increase efficiency and worker safety.