What Are Stabilizer Bars and Why Do I Need Them?

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The Three Point Hitch (TPH) is a wonderful thing. It allows a wide variety of attachments to be used behind your tractor. The lower lift arms swing from side to side to accommodate different width implements and change the angle you are pulling the implement. When you are pulling a ground engaging implement, such as a disc, this can be an advantage in a turn. However many times you want the implement (such as a mower) to stay centered behind your tractor and not swing from side to side. For this you use stabilizer bars. Under certain conditions without stabilizer bars your Power Take Off (PTO) shaft can hit part of your implement frame, and if you're fortunate, only damage the plastic guard around it. How I personally know this will be covered in a future post. Tractors can come in normal height in which the rear axle aligns with the center of the wheel or “row-crop” in which the tractor is higher by offsetting the rear axle up from the center of the wheel and raising the tractor body. This additional height is desired when you are driving over the tops of row crops. 

Satbilizer BarFor a normal height tractor you can get a generic kit from a place like Tractor Supply Company that includes a frame that bolts to the underside of the rear axle and a bar that goes from the frame to the lower implement TPH alongside the lower lift arm. This forms a triangle that prevents the implement from swinging back and forth. This picture shows the stabilizer (on the left) and the lower lift arm (on the right) and you can see the triangle formed that prevents the implement (in this case a chipper/shredder) from moving from side to side. 

Stabilizer Bar MountThis picture is taken low from the front of the tractor looking back. On the right you see the mounting frame and stabilizer bar. Again you can see the triangle formed. Since the length of the sides of the triangle cannot change (they are steel bars after all), the point of the triangle (the implement attachment point) cannot move side to side. Since the mounting pin for the stabilizer bar and the lower lift arm are in alignment, the lift arm can still raise and lower without binding. A future post will show the problems with putting stabilizer bars on a row-crop tractor. 

Photos: Jerry Ward