How to Measure Tractor Top Link and Side Link Cylinders

How to Measure Tie Rod Cylinders graphic

Summit Hydraulics now carries a wide variety of category 1 top link cylinders, side link cylinders, and top/tilt kits for tractors! Ensuring accurate measurements of vital components like top links and side links is crucial. This comprehensive guide dives deep into the process of measuring these components, ensuring a perfect fit and optimal functionality for your machinery.

CategoryHorsepower RangePin Diameter (inches)Hole Spacing (inches)
1Up to 20 HP0.7801.125

Top links are the primary connectors between a tractor and its implement. Their role in adjusting equipment angle and height cannot be underestimated. Let’s delve into the specifics:

  1. Tools Needed:
    • Wrenches (appropriate sizes)
    • Measuring tape or ruler
  2. Identify 3-Point-Hitch System:
    • Check Tractor Manual:
    • Inspect the 3-Point Hitch Arms:
  3. Removing the Top Link or Side Link:
    • Park and Secure the Tractor: Park the tractor on a level surface and engage the parking brake to ensure stability.
    • Lower Attachments: Lower the 3-point hitch arms or remove any attachments from the top link so that it can be easily accessed.
    • Locate Attachment Points: Identify the points where the top link is connected to the tractor’s 3-point hitch and to the implement or attachment.
    • Loosen Nuts, Bolts, or Shear Pins: Use appropriate wrenches to loosen the nuts, bolts or shear pins securing the top or side link to the tractor and the implement.
    • You might need to use penetrating oil if the nuts, bolts or shear pins are rusted or stuck.
  4. Remove the Top Link or Side Link:
    • Once the nuts, bolts or shear pins are sufficiently loosened, carefully remove the top link from both the tractor and the implement.
  5. Measuring the Top or Side Link:
    • Clean and Prepare: Clean any dirt, grease, or debris from the top link to ensure accurate measurements.
  6. Measure Length:
    • Extend the top or side link to its full length if it’s adjustable.
    • Use a measuring tape or ruler to measure the length of the top link from the center of the attachment holes on each end. Measure from the center of the holes, not the edges.
      • Additional Information:
        • If your top link has any additional features, such as swivels or threaded ends, make a note of these measurements as well.
        • If the top or side link is adjustable, measure it at its shortest and longest settings.
        • [IMPORTANT] Ensure the longest settings are properly adjusted to the manufacturer recommended length. Most tractor manufacturers will provide an indicator on the threaded rod ends as a maximum adjustment point.
  7. Diameter and Pin Size:
    • Measure the diameter of the pins used to attach the top or side link to the tractor and implement. This will help you ensure compatibility with the new hydraulic cylinder.
    • Note the pin size and type (e.g., clevis pins) used on both ends.
    • [IMPORTANT] The Diameter and Pin Size for Top Link and Side Link can be found by identifying the machine Category. Please reference the chart above.
  8. Attachment Angles:
    • Measure the angle of the top link ends where it attaches to the tractor and implement. This information will help you choose a hydraulic cylinder with the right range of motion.
  9. Looking for a Hydraulic Cylinder:
    • Search for Similar Size: With the measurements in hand, you can look for hydraulic cylinders with similar extended and retracted lengths that will provide the desired range of motion for your application.
  10. Verify Pin Compatibility:
    • Ensure that the hydraulic cylinder you’re considering has pins of the appropriate diameter and type to match your top link’s attachment points.
  11. Check for Adjustability:
    • If your top link is adjustable, you might want to look for hydraulic cylinders with adjustable lengths as well.

How to Measure Hydraulic Cylinders Video:

YouTube video

The degree of bend for side links can impact their functionality. A mismatch degree of bend for side links can lead to operational inefficiencies or even safety concerns. Always cross-reference measurements with product specifications, especially when considering trusted manufacturers like Summit Hydraulics.

Product photo of the TSKC1-008B Top & Tilt Kit


The precision in measuring top and side links is a blend of basic measurements and understanding finer nuances. Whether it’s the depth of threads, end fitting flexibility, or wall thickness, every detail matters. Ensure accurate measurements for optimal machinery functionality, longevity, and safety. Browse our wide selection of cylinders and use this guide to ensure you purchase the correct part for your application.

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