Understanding Three Point Hitch Classes

As you work through a tractor spec sheet you're going to notice a section on there that's going to have the category of the three-point hitch of a tractor. What that category is telling you is the size implements that are really made for the back of that machine.

Small category number, zero or one, are typically going to be your smallest implements and as you work into larger categories you're going to go to bigger, heavier implements. What that category is telling you is the size of the ball that's back here on the three-point hitch. These run anywhere between about 5/8 pins up to full 2-inch pins for the largest tractors that we sell. As you move up through these categories, the pins are going to get bigger and thus the implements are going to get larger, and the linkage that's attached to the back of the tractor is going to be heavier as well, to support those bigger, heavier implements.

The category of a three point hitch is really very simply referring to the size of these balls on the back and the size of the pins that go into them. The smallest hitch category is category zero. We don't actually even have any category zero stuff out here on our lots. It's typically reserved for the smallest garden tractors that typically can have [unintelligible 00:01:28] three-point hitch is put on to the nuts, stuff that typically comes as standard equipment.

Category one is a very very common and typically you're going to see category one on tractors under about 50 horsepower. The back of this B series tractor here is a category one hitch. It's going to have 5/8 holes in it. There's one caveat inside of category one where you may notice some subcompact tractors being listed as limited category one. Kubota's early BX series were done that way, today's are full category one.

Category Tractor HP Top Link Pin Diameter (imperial)* Top Link Pin Diameter (metric)* Lift Arm Pin Diameter (imperial) Lift Arm Pin Diameter (metric)
0 Up to 20 58 in 15.875 mm 58 in 15.875 mm
1 20 to 45 34 in 19.05 mm 78 in 22.225 mm
2 40 to 100 1 in 25.40 mm 1⅛ in 28.575 mm
3 80 to 225 1¼ in 31.75 mm 1 ​716 in 36.5125 mm
4 180 + 1 ​34 in 44.45 mm 2 in 50.80 mm

There's some other competitive subcompact tractors that are limited category one. What that limited part is telling you is that because the hitch is low to the ground it may not be able to lift as high or open as wide as a full category one hitch. You can find some category one implements that are not going to work properly on a limited category one tractor. Once you cross over 50 horsepower and you move up into utility tractors, you're going to move into category two.

This is typically used on tractors between about 50 and 150 horsepower or so, although there are always going to be some exceptions in those ranges. If you look here at the size of the pins, we've got much bigger arms, much bigger linkage in order to support a much bigger implement. This category two here is going to take a one-and-an-eight-inch pin in through that hole in order to support your implement.

The lines on your hitches start to get blurred when you get into real big equipment. This New Holland T7 here is a category three tractor. You'll see that the arm back here is shaped a little bit differently. When we're moving into this class a tractor, we're typically having large, large implements behind it, things that you can't take your arms over top of the hitch like you do on smaller equipment, because that we're generally going to get these u-shaped three point hitches where you're gonna lift underneath of a pin and then lift up into your implement to lock it in place with this quick hitch.

Generally, when you get into this class a tractor, you're going to have some options. You can get, say, a T17 tractor and an either category three or category four, depending on exactly what your implement needs are.

That's a three-minute conversation on the categories of a three-point hitch. If you're shopping for a tractor we can help you, give us a call at Messick's. We're available at 800-222-3373 or online on messicks.com.