Power Take-Off Units and Ford’s New Live Drive PTO

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For anyone who has ever worked with mechanical equipment in the construction or agricultural industries, the term ‘power take-off’ or PTO is a familiar one.  For the rest of us, a short primer is in order to help understand what this device is and how it can be useful to truck owners.

What’s A PTO?

In the simplest terms, a power take-off (PTO) is a device which is coupled to a vehicle’s transmission and which shifts the engine’s power output from turning the driveshaft into instead rotating an external splined shaft to which a wide range of equipment can be attached.  Commonly found on farm tractors, a PTO can be used to power anything hydraulic – from a hay baler to a snow blower to a cement mixer to a roll-out.  PTOs are extremely useful devices when it comes to powering equipment far off the beaten path, where it might not be possible to run electrical power or practical to store reserves of fuel.

Tow truck hydraulics rely upon a PTO to function.

Tow trucks use PTOs to power hydraulic lifts and roll-outs.

Commercial vehicles such as fire trucks, garbage trucks, dump trucks, and tow trucks are excellent examples of PTO units in action in our daily lives. The same principle that sees a PTO attached to a heavy-duty truck’s transmission to provide enough power to lift a cargo bed, pump water or power a wood chipper is also easily translatable to regular pickup trucks.  In fact, there are a host of after-market companies (such as Chelsea and Magna) that offer PTO solutions designed for SUV’s and pickups. [Hydraulic winches are a good example of an accessory Toyota truck owners might want to use that requires a PTO. – Jason].

Ford’s New Live Drive PTO System

2011 Ford SuperDuty Live Drive P.T.O. cross section

2011 Ford SuperDuty Live Drive P.T.O. cross section

Ford has decided to step-up their power take-off game by offering a new PTO option on the 2011 Ford Super Duty line of pickups.  In addition to being more fuel efficient, the new SuperDuty 6R140 TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission also offers improved support for PTO applications.  On older editions of the Ford Super Duty, the vehicle’s transmission was designed in such a way that any PTO units installed would stop functioning when the transmission’s torque converter was disengaged at idle.  This made the feature difficult to use with certain types of PTO devices.

Ford’s new SuperDuty PTO system, which is called Live Drive, sources its power directly from the engine itself bypassing the torque converter completely.  Although it is limited to 250 lb-ft of torque at idle and 150 lb-ft of torque while the truck is moving, the redesigned PTO is far more useful than its predecessor and counts as an intriguing feature for the toughest edition of Ford’s pickup stable.  Live Drive will be initially rolled out with the company’s diesel-powered trucks, although a gasoline-powered version may be available in the near future.

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Mickey says:

    That’s definitely a good deal for the farm. Also a good deal for the snow belt to pull someone out by winch.

  2. rich says:

    Don’t know how i could use this…but it sounds like a good idea for the farmers.
    BTW Jason…according to some folks on tundrasolutions it sounds like Toyota has changed the AIP warranty to 5 years or 60K.

  3. Brian says:

    Rich – That would be nice if Toyota would honor the AIP for 5/60 or even longer. Seems like they’re doing everything they can to keep customers happy. I hope to not have any AIP problems, but if it does break I hope it happens under warranty!

  4. chosuke says:

    Now, to get back on topic, That’s a very useful option for a working truck.

  5. Jason says:

    Mickey – So when you retire, you can get a farm and a PTO and have at it, right? 🙂
    rich – I heard that. It’s only on 2010’s right now…haven’t published anything yet on it because I haven’t had a chance to dig into it.
    Brian – Definitely a step in the right direction. Are you the same Brian that DM’d me on Twitter?
    Chosuke – Yep – that’s what it’s all about. Benjamin explained that a couple of companies offer after-market PTO kits for the Tundra.

  6. Brian says:

    Sorry, Jason. I am not.

  7. Jason says:

    Brian – No need to be sorry – just trying to put it together! 🙂

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