The 3-Point hitch system for rear attached implements is both loved and hated. We all love the relative consistency and compatibility between rear attachments and tractors. Essentially every tractor made in the last 30 years has a 3-point hitch. This level of compatibility is extremely valuable, allowing manufacturers to freely innovate on both sides of the hitch.
Unfortunately, while the 3-Point Hitch is nearly universally compatible, challenges remain. One of those challenges is the ease of attaching 3 pt attachments. Often, the attempted attachment includes prying, pulling, lifting, grunting, etc until you can get the lift arms perfectly lined up with the implement. Then, the challenge is repeated for the top-link.
Another challenge is that implements, while compatible with a 3 point hitch, are not always STRICTLY compatible to the standard. Often the lower lift pins are not at the perfect separation distance, and the top link pin is often not at the correct height. On some older plows, the lower lift pins can be adjusted left or right, while the top link is ‘fixed’.
Even if the pins are the perfect distances apart, sometimes the way the hitch is made makes it difficult or impossible to use a quick-hitch. Perhaps the hitch is too wide, or there is insufficient clearance to allow connection.
Over the last 30 years or so (this is ‘recently’ in the tractor world) quick hitches have become more popular. These hitches assist with the challenging process of attaching and detaching implements. This increase in popularity has forced the implement manufacturers to design their 3 point connections precisely to the standard, and with sufficient clearance to allow QH connectivity. So, newer implements will be more likely to work with the 3 point quick hitches.
Quick Hitches come in a few different shapes, styles, and price points. We’ll check out some of the more popular options here.
Pat’s Easy Change
The Easy Change system modifies only the lower two (lift) links of the 3-point hitch by adding extensions to them. These extensions allow quick connection to the attachment lift pins. The top link is connected using the normal connection process. I’ve often wondered why tractor manufacturers continue to supply the standard ‘ball’ connection on the tractor. It doesn’t seem to be useful for any 3 point hitch attachment. In fact, Oliver 3 point lift links all the way back to the 1960’s were very similar to the Pat’s Easy change of today. Sorry for the digression.
Pat’s Easy Change will not be quite as easy to connect to attachments as the other options below, however it really shines when you need to connect to an attachment which is not compatible with a standard quick hitch.
Harbor Freight/Speeco Quick Hitch
This is the quick hitch I have. I didn’t purchase it from the Amazon link here. Rather I purchased from Harbor Freight with a 20% off coupon.
This hitch is the most cost effective on the market. Of course, that means there is compromise somewhere, right? This hitch is more ‘bulky’ than the more expensive hitches. The frame is larger (but likely not as strong) as the more expensive competitors. The top link hook is adjustable vertically, which is good. However, the top hook is very wide, and the hook does not extend out very far from the frame of the hitch, making it difficult to connect to some attachments.
There is a cost effective solution to this issue, which I found ONLY after I lost my top hook. There is a 3rd party top hook available which DOES extend outward from the frame of the quick hitch. This replacement hook greatly improves the ability to connect to my King Kutter brush hog, and other ‘difficult’ implements.
This video shows details of me working through these connectivity issues, finally settling on the improved ‘hook’ linked here.
With this replacement hook (and the $75-$80 HF hitch with coupon), you’ll have the most cost effective solution to the quick hitch problem. If you are cost sensitive, and want a suitable solution for compact tractors, you can stop reading! If you are brand loyal, or prefer a better looking solution, keep reading…
The Deere I-Match hitch is the most popular ‘premier’ hitch for John Deere compact tractors. It is sleek, compact and looks great on the Deere tractors. The only problem….cost. It is a VERY expensive solution compared to the other options mentioned here.
There really isn’t much more to say about this hitch. Very nice option, at a steep price.
Land Pride QH05
This hitch is unique. The Harbor Freight Hitch, I-Match Hitch, and even all other Land Pride hitches require bushings to be attached to each attachment. These bushings are expensive, especially if you have lots of attachments. I’ve included a link to the least expensive ones I can find here. Perhaps not the right place to put the link, because this quick hitch doesn’t require them! That’s right, the lower hooks of this quick hitch directly fit the lift pins on your Category 1 attachments.
You can get the QH05 from your local Kubota dealer for around $200. While this is a bit more than the HF hitch, once you include the replacement top hook, and bushing for each of the attachments, the HF solution might end up costing more.
I do see a couple of potential issues with this hitch. First, it is rated for only 680 lbs (24 inches behind the links). That rating should work fine for 1-Series, and BX tractors, but this hitch is not appropriate for anything larger.
The second issue is that the geometry of the hitch might interfere with the Heavy Hitch product (which I love). I have not been able to try this, but at first look, it appears that the weights would contact the rounded frame of the QH05.
Take one look at my tractor, you’ll see my choice. Harbor Freight (Chinese) quick hitch with replacement extended hook. This is purely because of cost reasons.
Before my MAGA friends blast me for this recommendation, remember that it is very likely that the I-Match is not made in USA either.
If you are purchasing your tractor new, you can certainly include the I-Match (or QH05 if Kubota BX) in the purchase. Doing so will allow you to finance it.
No matter which solution you choose, I highly recommend some sort of quick hitch solution. It is simply not worth the effort to tug/pry/twist/pull the implements around to make them fit.