A Quick Guide to Brakes and Clutches for Agricultural Machinery

Did you know that the largest industry in agriculture is food and manufacturing? Americans even spend 12% of their household budgets in this sector. Agriculture also expands to farm-related industries with their machinery.

The keys to effective control in any agricultural machinery are brakes and clutches. These friction materials keep them running and are crucial in the agriculture industry.

How do brakes and clutches work, and are there different kinds available? Read on to learn more about these friction materials.

Brakes and Clutches Function

Brakes and clutches transfer torque from an input shaft to an output shaft. In simpler words, they stop and hold weight. You get them as separate parts, but they merge into a single clutch-brake unit.

Engaging the clutch transfers power from an engine to transmission or drive sprockets. Disengaging the clutch stops the power transfer, but the engine continues turning. Braking stops or slows the movement of connected shafts.

The type of brakes or clutches depends on how they engage or disengage the load. Therefore, machine operators also classify them by the method used to operate them.


The friction type is the most common brake or clutch in an agricultural application. It engages or stops a load. It happens by creating friction between two matching surfaces.

The first surface is metallic, usually made of iron. It forms into a drum, band, or disc.

The second surface has friction facing from molded organic material. It has a heat-cured resin binder, either a shoe, pad, or plate.


A disc-type brake or clutch has a single friction plate with a disc in its most basic form. It’s a single unit that combines clutching and braking duties.


A drum-type has cylindrical friction surfaces with a common axis or shaft. It transmits high torque and is perfect for off-road equipment.


A cone is a cross between drum and disc types. However, they no longer use it in modern agricultural machinery.


Electromagnetic type brakes and clutches are helpful when a unit needs a variable slip. They use electromagnetic attraction over friction to do their function.


Magnetics are the most common electromagnetic type brakes and clutches. They are great for tensioning and positioning applications with continuous changes of speed.

Eddy Current

Variable speed devices use Eddy Current types. These brakes and clutches don’t operate at zero slip.


Hysteresis can provide any amount of graft. It’s needed not to exceed the heat dissipation capacity of the unit.


Mechanical type brakes and clutches are also called self-activating types. They transfer torque via a direct mechanical connection of input and output components.

  • Square Jaw – consists of square teeth locking into mating recesses in facing members
  • Spiral Jar – used to overcome the limited engagement speeds of square jaw types
  • Multi-tooth – offer the advantages of mechanical lockup clutches
  • Sprag – has cylindrical inner and outer races, together with sprags filling the space
  • Wrap Spring – a coiled spring links its input shaft and output shaft
  • Roller Ramp – transfer torque through rollers riding on the ramped surface of a hub

Mechanical brakes and clutches are often the least expensive. They assemble well for engaging and disengaging shafts.

Know More About Agricultural Machinery

Brakes and clutches are behind the effective control of agricultural machinery. They disconnect and connect the power source and slow or stop the system.

If you’re looking for the best industry parts and services, Kor-Pak is here to help. Check us out for more information.

Posted in Industrial Brakes and Clutches.