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  • The drawbar system necessitated the implement having its own running gear (usually wheels) and in the case of a plow, chisel cultivator or harrow, some sort of lift mechanism to raise it out of the ground at turns or for transport. Drawbars necessarily posed a rollover risk depending on how the tractive torque was applied. The Fordson tractors (of which more units were produced and placed in service than any other farm tractor) was extremely prone to roll over backwards due to an excessively short wheelbase. The linkage between the implement and the tractor usually had some slack which could lead to jerky starts and greater wear and tear on the tractor and the equipment.

    Drawbars were appropriate to the dawn of mechanization, because they were very simple in concept and because as the tractor replaced the horse, existing horse-drawn implements usually already had running gear. As the history of mechanization progressed, however, the advantages of other hitching systems became apparent, leading to new developments (see below). Depending on the function for which a tractor is used, though, the drawbar is still one of the usual means of attaching an implement to a tractor (see photo at left).

  • Older tractors usually have transmission designs, which often require the operator stop the tractor to shift between gears. This mode of use is inherently unsuited to some of the work tractors do, and has been circumvented in various ways over the years. For existing unsynchronized tractors, the methods of circumvention are or power-shifting, both of which require the operator to rely on skill to speed-match the gears while shifting, and are undesirable from a risk-mitigation standpoint because of what can go wrong if the operator makes a mistake – transmission damage is possible, and loss of vehicle control can occur if the tractor is towing a heavy load either uphill or downhill – something that tractors often do. Therefore, operator's manuals for most of these tractors state one must always stop the tractor before shifting, and they do not even mention the alternatives. As already said, that mode of use is inherently unsuited to some of the work tractors do, so better options were pursued for newer tractor designs.

    Most older farm tractors use a with several , typically three to six, sometimes multiplied into two or three ranges. This arrangement provides a set of discrete ratios that, combined with the varying of the throttle, allow final-drive speeds from less than one up to about 25 miles per hour (40 km/h), with the lower speeds used for working the land and the highest speed used on the road.

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  • Early tractors used or cables wrapped around the or a separate belt pulley to power stationary equipment, such as a threshing machine, buzz saw, silage blower, or stationary baler. In most cases, it was not practical for the tractor and equipment to move with a flexible belt or cable between them, so this system required the tractor to remain in one location, with the work brought to the equipment, or the tractor to be relocated at each turn and the power set-up reapplied (as in cable-drawn plowing systems used in early steam tractor operations).

Utility Tractors New John Deere Utility Tractors

Modern tractors use a (PTO) shaft to provide rotary power to machinery that may be stationary or pulled. The PTO shaft generally is at the rear of the tractor, and can be connected to an implement that is either towed by a drawbar or a three-point hitch. This eliminates the need for a separate, implement-mounted power source, which is almost never seen in modern farm equipment.