Test: Pto shaft guards rated for quality, price and servicing

We’re all taught from an early age about the dangers of living and working on farms, yet the accident statistics remain horrifying.

Agriculture accounts for some 16% of all workplace deaths despite farm staff making up only 1% of the UK’s working population.

But there are plenty of opportunities to reduce the risk. Pto shaft guards, for instance, are often overlooked – either because they’ve broken in the heat of a high-pressured harvest season or, increasingly commonly, because of the cost of replacements.

Equipment owners quite reasonably feel as if they’re being shafted (pun intended) with exorbitant prices for these essential safety components.

See also: Video: 20 handy workshop tools, gadgets and knick-knacks

They also take time to fit. If a guard gets damaged during work and the weather is closing in, repair or replacement often gets put off until the job’s done.

But how complex does it really need to be and just how expensive are these tubular bits of yellow and black plastic?

We decided to find out with a simple workshop trial looking at all the major brands.

Tubes on trial

The aim was to assess the most commonly used pto guards for their ease of fitting, build quality and maintenance requirements, so we asked various suppliers and manufacturers to provide us with a selection to suit the most prevalent sizes of shafts on modern machines.

Anyone who’s ever spent any time trying to match the correct size bearing collars to both shafts and guards will know just what a headache it can be.

While, unsurprisingly, each manufacturer has its own approach to securing the guard, yoke and universal joint (UJ) manufacturers have varying designs too.

Typically, “German” shafts have the same diameter collars at tractor and implement ends while “Italian” versions will require different size bearing rings at the front and rear.

So, when you’re ordering either complete guards or replacement parts, you really need to know how to wield a set of Vernier calipers.

With all the usual suspects, it can be like navigating your way through a minefield, but there are a couple of aftermarket options that make the whole identification process a lot easier.

Universal guard kits from Australian company Bare-Co (distributed in the UK by Gwaza) are supplied with a range of bearing rings to fit various shaft diameters and it’s the same story with Sparex’s GardLoc units.

This does away with the issues of ensuring you order the right collars to match both guard and shaft. Weasler also supplies four or five different bearing rings, but the size range is much more limited.

When it came to pricing we strived to find a common shaft size that we could use as a means of comparison across all makes. Unfortunately, this is where the minefield becomes a whole lot trickier.

Different manufacturers make guards to suit different size shafts, “Italian” pattern and “German”.

For the purposes of comparison we’ve had to work on the basis of a mid-size shaft with yoke collars somewhere in the 55-65mm-diameter range.

Bare-Co (Gwaza)

Sizes 10/10

Effectively two ranges to suit different size shafts – A2-A3 or A4-A8.

Each kit comes with 11 different bearing rings to fit collars from 32mm up to 53mm or from 53mm up to 83mm.

Available in 1.1m, 1.5m and 2m lengths measured with the shaft fully retracted.

Fitting 9/10

Mount bearing ring in shaft collar groove. 

Mount bearing ring in shaft collar groove of Bare-Co (Gwaza) pto guard

Mount bearing ring in shaft collar groove © Nick Fone

Slide guard over and squeeze double lock clips together. Flat-blade screwdriver to release.

Bare-Co (Gwaza) pto guard

© Nick Fone

Build quality 7/10

The guard itself feels reasonably strong and bearing rings are made from nylon (as used by most manufacturers).

Their fit isn’t quite as precise as others.

Bare-Co (Gwaza) pto guard

© Nick Fone

Maintenance 7/10

External greaser recess too small to accommodate standard grease gun nozzle.

However, it’s very easy to unclip the locking collars and slide the guard back to lube both the UJs and bearing rings.

Price £100-£120 depending on size

Bondioli and Pavesi

Sizes 5/10*

Like the majority, only supplied with a single pair of bearing rings.

Therefore, you need to know yoke/clutch dimensions and shaft length, as well as shaft collar diameter, and order the correct ones – there’s no room for error.

B&P guards are designed primarily for Italian-style shafts which tend to have different size collars at each end.

Fitting 4/10

By far the most fiddly. Flat face on each end of the tube which then connects to cone and bearing ring with three screws. 

Bondioli and Pavesi pto guard

© Nick Fone

A locating dowel in the bearing ring means it only fits in one position to ensure grease nipple is accessible through a hole in the guard.

Different size rings/bearing races each end means there is only one way to put it together. 

Bondioli and Pavesi pto guard

© Nick Fone

Build 9/10

Feels robustly made. Flanged bearing ring is screwed into both tube and cone and a stepped profile means it is more rigid than other simpler designs. 

Bondioli and Pavesi pto guard

© Nick Fone

Maintenance 6/10

Proper grease-ways through the bearing ring. Awkward to remove and slide back guard to access UJ greasers.

Price £103.45


Sizes 5/10*

Only supplied with a single pair of bearing rings. When ordering, buyers therefore need to know collar size and bearing ring specific to guard.

Fitting 7/10

Cones and tube separate. Two snap-locks are released with a flat-blade screwdriver to slide cone back.

Comer pto guard

© Nick Fone

Six lugs on bearing ring lock into corresponding holes on tube.

Build 5/10

Plastic bearing ring feels flimsy. Design means bearing is secured to tube very positively when new but lack of meat suggests it might not last the test of time. 

Comer ptp guard

© Nick Fone

Maintenance 6/10

Can’t access collar greaser without tools. Need to release clips and draw cone back.

With the cone separate from the tube it makes for easy access to UJs. 

Comer pto guard

© Nick Fone

Price £58.88


Sizes 5/10*

Need to match bearing ring to guard size and shaft collar groove.

Same-size bearing race each end so measuring up Italian-style shafts needs a bit of attention.

Fitting 6/10

Three tabs on the bearing ring snap out into recesses in cone. 

Go-Part pto

© Nick Fone

Need to align split in the ring with a locating lug in the bearing race, allowing it to click into place.

There are holes on the outside to poke in a screwdriver to release. 

Go-Part pto

© Nick Fone

Fiddly arrangement when new, so what’s it going to be like after a few hundred hours coupled up to a bucking power harrow?

Build 6/10

Doesn’t feel the most substantial but probably perfectly adequate for a light-use machine where it’s not necessary to access the UJs regularly.

Maintenance 5/10

External bearing greaser is not traditional ball-and-socket nipple, so grease gun can’t lock on. Fiddly to retract cone to access UJs.

Go-Part pto

© Nick Fone

Price £32.38

Sparex Gardloc

Sizes 9/10

Two size ranges – smaller for 34.4mm to 50.5mm bearing grooves (comes with 10 different collars to suit German- and Italian-style shafts).

Larger has six bearing rings from 53.4mm to 63mm. Not suited to largest-size shafts (Sparex says bigger versions are on the way, as are wide-angle guards).

Fitting 9/10

Red horseshoe snap-lock clip secures guard onto bearing ring with a firm squeeze/gentle thwack. It’s easily levered back out with a screwdriver and the guard simply slides back. 

Sparex pto

© Nick Fone

Build 8/10

The Gardloc has a solid feel to it and decent-quality nylon bearing rings – so much so that it seems a shame to chuck them away once you’ve selected the pair that fit. 

Sparex pto

© Nick Fone

Maintenance 9/10

Proper steel grease nipple threaded into brass bush in bearing race. Unclip collar and slide guard back to access UJs.

Sparex pto

© Nick Fone

Price From £55.95 to £77.95 depending on diameter and length


Sizes 5/10*

Comes with just one pair of bearing rings. Need to order correct ones to fit both shaft and guard.

Fitting 5/10

Time-proven but fiddly process. Three tabs on the bearing ring slip into slots in the guard collar.

Walterscheid pto

© Nick Fone

Twisting the cone on the tube then locks it in place while a self-tapping screw secures it.

An insignificant-looking nib in the bearing race must be aligned with the split in the ring otherwise it doesn’t seat properly and will suffer premature wear. 

Walterscheid pto

© Nick Fone

Build 9/10

Feels very refined. Optional ST versions with grooved profile interlocking tubes mean the guard only needs to be secured by a chain at one end.

Walterscheid pto

© Nick Fone

Supplied with two different-sized plastic rings that slot into inner tube to reduce whip effect and internal damage. 

Walterscheid pto

© Nick Fone

Maintenance 6/10

Bearing ring greaser doubles up as locating dowel so that lube actually goes through the right place in the collar and into the groove.

Fiddly to slide back cone to access UJs.

Price £158.42 for standard – ST grooved version £216.54


Sizes 7/10

Depending on which kit is selected, it comes with either four or five different bearing rings of differing internal diameters.

Fitting 8/10

Twist-lock system employs lugs on the bearing ring to secure the guard.

Weasler pto

© Nick Fone

Simple red clip locks it in place, rather than a screw. Slightly annoyingly chain loop can foul locking lugs.

Weasler pto

© Nick Fone

Build 7/10

Bearing rings are well made and have robust locking tabs. Red clips aren’t overly substantial but spares are supplied. 

Weasler pto

© Nick Fone

Maintenance 7/10

Grease is applied to the bearing rings via a nipple on the locking clip and there are multiple grease-ways in the collar to ensure it is evenly distributed.

Three holes in cone to access UJ greasers.

Weasler pto

© Nick Fone

Price £82.57

*With the exception of Sparex Gardloc, Gwaza Bare-Co and Weasler, which supply a range of bearing rings with every guard, all those that require the rings to be matched to both the shaft collar diameter and the right guard are scored at 5/10. It leaves a much greater opportunity for error, particularly when Italian shafts with different sizes at each end are involved.

Thanks to the team at Kramp UK, Gwaza and Sparex for their assistance and advice.

FW verdict

The murky world of pto shaft and guard sizing is littered with trip hazards that the layman simply can’t foresee.

Matching tubes, cones and collars is a dark art further complicated by the need to distinguish between shafts designed on different sides of the Alps.

For an experienced hand in a dealer parts department this match-making exercise might come easy.

But for most of us mere mortals who just need to get on with the job and make kit safe it’s fraught with the potential for errors.

Man sawing Pto guard

Absolute minimum guard overlap should be 50mm © Nick Fone

And that’s where the likes of Bare-Co, Sparex Gardloc and, to a lesser extent, Weasler come into their own.

Supplied with a range of bearing rings to suit all manner of shafts – equal or odd ended – you can just order them, safe in the knowledge that they’ll fit.

Then there’s the fitting process. With snap-lock collars, these first two have been purpose-designed to make them simple to put on in the first place and easy to retract for access to the UJs and bearing rings.

Coincidentally, it’s the Weasler that scores second best in this department too.

So where does that leave the rest? Unsurprisingly, there’s a broad range of build quality and pricing.

Long-established players in the game, Bondioli and Pavesi and Walterscheid, score highest for fit and feel, but you pay for it.

On the subject of pricing, we were surprised by how wildly prices vary for the same products.

With a bit of shopping around you can find differences of hundreds of pounds between retailers.

The budget Go-Part guards look cheapest and, for infrequently used low-powered kit, they’re probably fine.

But you don’t have to spend much more to get altogether better quality, easier-to-fit options such as Sparex’s Gardloc and the Weasler. Bare-Co comes in slightly pricier.

Ultimately, if you’re a seasoned pro at pto match-making, you can pick and choose your brand to suit the budget.

Those with less time in the game who just need something that will fit without question would be well advised to go with any one of these easy-fit universal kits.

Any which way, it shouldn’t require an overdraft extension to make a machine safe.

Avoid wear and failure

It’s common to end up with several loops of chain around the shaft guard.

However, as the shaft spins and the chain tightens it puts pressure on the tube and the bearing rings, which can lead to premature wear and failure.

To avoid this, double the chain back to the securing loop on the implement or tractor so that the guard can only rotate 90deg with the available slack in the chain.


© Nick Fone

Wide-angle collars

Bringing wide-angle collars into the mix adds a whole further layer of complication to the sizing/pricing process, so we steered well clear of it in the main.

However, UK distributor Gwaza was insistent that we should trial Bare-Co’s clam-shell arrangement to see how it combines with the Australian firm’s standard guard.

Wide-angle collar

© Nick Fone

With the help of a bucket of hot water, the standard cone becomes flexible enough to ease off the guard. It’s then replaced by a rubber version with a steel stiffening ring.

A rigid plastic clam-shell with over-centre cam-lock clamps onto it and the larger diameter bearing ring at the front end of the shaft.

The beauty of this is that it is simply unclipped to access the front UJs and bearing collar for greasing.

Likewise, the standard Bare-Co guard can be unclipped and slipped back to access the rear UJ and bearing ring.

The wide-angle clam-shell kit comes with 120mm and 125mm bearing rings and costs £90-£100.

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