Hydraulic wheel motor IMG 4602

A Hydrostatic drive system using independent wheel motors on a compact loader

Hydrostatic transmissions transmit all power hydraulically, using the components of hydraulic machinery.


Hydrostatic transmissions do not make use of the hydrodynamic forces of the fluid flow. There is no solid coupling of the input and output. The transmission input drive is a central hydraulic pump and final drive unit(s) is/are a hydraulic motor, or hydraulic cylinder (see:swashplate. Both components can be placed physically far apart on the machine, being connected only by high pressure pipes or flexible hoses. Hydrostatic drive systems are used on excavators, lawn tractors, forklifts, winch drive systems, heavy lift equipment, and specialist agricultural machinery, etc. This arrangement for a motor-vehicle transmission was probably used on the Ferguson F-1 P99 racing car in about 1961.

The Human Friendly Transmission of the Honda DN-01 is hydrostatic

Early vehicles with a Hydrosatic driveEdit

Various experimental tractors and other machinery was built using the hydrostatic drive principle to create a continuously variable transmission.

  • The British agricultural research station at Silsoe experimented with several designs in the 1960s and 70s.
  • Ford, Massey Ferguson, Nuffield and International tractors have all been used as a base for hydrostatic transmission designs.

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