The answer to the question in the title is “it depends”. In this post I cover the pros and cons of both and why I went with the Pat’s Easy Change system. However, depending on your preferences and implement needs, a Quick Hitch might be the right solution for you.
What They Have in Common
First, both systems add about 4″ to the length of the 3-point lift arms, which reduces the lift capacity by about 5 to 7 percent. That extra length can create a dangerous situation if your PTO shafts are over extended so you will have to make sure your PTO shafts can safely handle the extra 4 inches. I recommend using a PTO extender, which you can get for about $35. It extends your PTO about 4 inches so that you don’t have to worry about your PTO shafts being too short.
Also, both require special adapter hardware on the implement pins. In the case of Quick Hitches, it is a set of bushings that must be installed on the pins of all of your Category 1 implements. (Most quick hitches are natively Category 2.) These cost between $17 and $35 a for a set of two so you’ll want to shop around for the best deal.
The Pat’s Easy Change system requires two lynch pin washers for each implement, but includes three sets of washers, which are easily moved between implements. An extra set of two washers costs about $5, but can be up to $12.
Both may require a longer top link, which was the case for me. My stock Kubota top link just wasn’t long enough so I got a longer top link from Tractor Supply for about $25 a few years ago, but the current price is $43.
The quick hitch may also require a top link adapter for implements where the top 3-point pin cannot be hooked with the quick hitch top hook.
Also, keep in mind that heavy implements sitting 4 inches farther back shifts your tractor’s center of gravity backward making the front end of your tractor lighter, so you may need extra ballast on the front end. This is especially true with subcompact tractors, but if you have a front-end loader then you’re probably okay.
Both of these systems have additional costs beyond the price of the hitch system. Let take a look at the possible extra costs for each.
For the Quick Hitch, lets assume you have 4 implements, all are category 1 and all are quick hitch compatible. The cost of the quick hitch itself could range from about $100 for the Harbor Freight model to as much as $400 for a name brand model.
You’ll also need to spend about $100 on adapter bushings for your implements, assuming you can find them for a middle of the road price of $25 per set.
If you choose to get a PTO extender, that’s another $35 to $40. I chose to get one so I wouldn’t have to worry about PTO shaft lengths being too short.
If you need a longer top link, that’s about $25 – $35 more.
Finally, some implements may require some flexibility at the top link that the quick hitch can’t provide so there is a top link adapter you can get for from about $25 to $45 to accommodate these implements.
So your low range of total cost could be as low as about $200 if you buy a Harbor Freight quick hitch and just the adapter bushings and don’t need the other accessories. The high range could be about $582 if you buy a name brand quick hitch and also buy all the accessories.
Now for the Pat’s Easy Change system, again we’ll assume you have 4 implements and all are category 1, but they don’t have to be quick hitch compatible.
The Pat’s Easy Change system sells for between $180 and $200. That includes the adjustable stabilizer bar and 3 sets of lynch pin washers.
So you only need one more set of lynch pin washers which you can buy for between $5 and $12. As you see, prices can vary a lot so shop around!
You may also need all the same accessories as the quick hitch except the top link adapter.
Your low range of total cost could be as low as $185 if you don’t need the other accessories.
The high range could be about $265 if you pay $200 for the Pat’s System and buy all the accessories.
Quick Hitch Considerations
There are some other things you need to consider about the Quick Hitch.
First, there is no actual quick hitch standard. In particular, the width between the bottom hooks vary slightly between quick hitch makers, just as the width between the implement pins vary slightly between different makers of quick hitch compatible implements. However, there is some play due to the length of the implement pins. Also, the bushing kits allow you to attach them to the pins at two different positions which can help avoid problems. So this probably won’t be an issue for you, but keep it in mind.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the distance between the bottom pins on and implement and the top link hook up can vary, which is why the height of the top hook on the quick hitch is adjustable. The problem is that from the factory, almost all quick hitches have bolts you have to remove to adjust the top hook height, which is time consuming. That’s why one of the most common mods done to quick hitches is to replace those bolts with pins, like the ones available from Ken’s Bolt-on Hooks. This makes adjusting the height much easier and quicker.
Another common quick hitch mod, particularly for the Harbor Freight quick hitch, is extending the top hook out farther so that it will work with a wider range of implements. Here’s how TractorByNet member jrdecat solved the problem with a chunk of steel and some welding.
But you can also buy an extended top hook as well, such as the one from Ken’s Bolt-on Hooks.
Finally, if you have or are planning to get a 3-point post hole digger, be aware that you have to remove the quick hitch to hook the post hole digger up. This is because post hole diggers do not use a top link and instead connect directly to where the top link normally attaches to the tractor.
The bottom line is that, depending on the implements you have, there may be situations where you won’t be able to just “grab and go” from the seat of your tractor with the quick hitch. Any implement you have that has a PTO shaft will require you to get off the tractor any way, as will any implement that needs the top link adapter. Still, if you have the right mix of implements, you can enjoy the “grab and go” convenience that a quick hitch offers.
Pat’s Easy Change Considerations
Now for the Pat’s Easy Change System, here are some things you need to consider:
You will always have to hook up the top link. There is no “Grab and Go” with this system.
Also, you may have to adjust the width of the 3-point lift arms so that the hooks match the implement pins. You can do this with the adjustable stabilizer bar that comes with it, or use a rubber tarp strap between the lift arms and then adjust sway bars to widen or narrow the width between the hooks, which is what I like to do.
One mod I recommend you make is to replace the u-bolt jam nuts with nylock nuts. I have found the that stock jam nuts will come loose and then the whole u-bolt will be loose after a while.
The bottom line for Pat’s Easy Change is that you will have to get off your tractor more than with a quick hitch. But, it will work with most any implement out there, old or new and will even work with post hole diggers. This was one of the big reasons I chose the Pat’s Easy Change System. Plus, it costs less than a quick hitch.
Below is a quick slideshow demo of how I use the Pat’s Easy Change System to attach my ballast box. I’ve already adjusted the width of the arms to be just right for the ballast box. Once in position, I raise the 3-point to engage the pins. Then I swing the locks into place. I attach the top link the old fashioned way, then I can pick up the ballast box.
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