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HQ 954851

September 27, 1993
CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 954851 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 8483.10.50

John P. Donohue, Esq.
Donohue and Donohue
232 South Fourth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

RE: PTO Drive Shafts; other transmission shafts; 8483.60.40; clutches and universal joints; HRL 089267; HRL 089375; NY 868622; EN 84.83

Dear Mr. Donohue:

This is in regards to your letter dated July 15, 1993, on behalf of Bondioli and Pavesi Inc., concerning the tariff classification of Power Take Off ("PTO") Drive Shafts under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The PTO Drive Shafts ("drive shafts") were the subject of Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 089267 dated August 9, 1991, in which they were described as articles that mechanically transmit power from the PTO shaft of a tractor to an agricultural implement. The drive shafts consist of two universal connecting member(s) and fastening means for transmitting rotational power from the tractor PTO to the implement input connection. In HRL 089267, we held that the drive shafts were classified under subheading 8483.10.50, HTSUS, as other transmission shafts rather than under subheading 8433.90.50, HTSUS, as parts of harvesting or threshing machinery.

Since the issuance of HRL 089267, you state that Customs has issued two other rulings which conflict with the classification of the drive shafts as other transmission shafts. These rulings are HRL 089375 dated September 11, 1991, which classified a PTO assembly under subheading 8483.60.40, HTSUS, as a clutch, and New York (NY) 868622 dated December 6, 1991, which classified a Spidex shaft coupling under subheading 8483.60.80, HTSUS, as other clutches and shaft couplings. Based on HRL 089375 and NY 868622, you contend that the drive shafts at issue should be classified as clutches and universal joints under subheading 8483.60.40, HTSUS. Additionally, you contend that with classification under subheading 8483.60.40, HTSUS, the drive shafts are also classifiable under subheading 9817.00.50 or 9817.00.60, HTSUS, as machinery, equipment and implements to be used for agricultural or horticultural purposes.

The competing subheadings are:

8483 Transmission shafts (including camshafts and crankshafts) and cranks; bearing housings, housed bearings and plain shaft bearings; gears and gearing; ball screws; gear boxes and other speed changers, including torque converters; flywheels and pulleys, including pulley blocks; clutches and shaft couplings (including universal joints); parts thereof...

8483.10.50 Transmission shafts (including camshafts and crankshafts) and cranks...Other transmission shafts and cranks.

8483.60.40 Clutches and shaft couplings (including universal joints)...Clutches and universal joints.

You state that the drive shaft consists of three elements:

1) the implement side component - a universal joint (Cardan joint) and fastening means with or without a torque limiting device which is affixed to the farm implement;

2) the connecting members - two interconnecting telescoping tubes; and

3) the tractor side component - a second universal joint (Cardan joint) and fastening means for attaching to the tractor PTO.

You state that the purpose of the drive shaft is to couple the implement to the tractor and accommodate for varying angles and lengths as the machine maneuvers through the field.


Are the drive shafts classified as other transmission shafts under subheading 8483.10.50, HTSUS, or as clutches and universal joints under subheading 8483.60.40, HTSUS?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states, in part, that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...."

In understanding the language of the headings of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS) Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. The ENs, although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989). EN 84.83 (pgs. 1325-1328) lists the types of articles included within the provisions transmissions, and clutches and universal joints. EN 84.83 states that transmission shafts "...usually transmit a rotary motive power. They include:

1. Main shafts or driving shafts driven directly by the motor.
2. Counter shafts, for coupling to the main shaft by belts and pulleys or by cogs, etc.; they are used to take the drive from the main shaft to a number of machines, or to different parts of a machine.
3. Articulated shafts, consisting of two or more shafts connected by ball and socket joints, etc. 4. Flexible shafts which transmit the motion of a driving unit to, e.g., hand tools, measuring instruments (revolution counters, speedometers, etc.) 5. Cranks and crank shafts. These may be either made in one piece or assembled from several parts. They receive a reciprocating motion (e.g., from a piston engine) and convert it into rotary movement, or vice versa.
6. Cam shafts and eccentric shafts."

EN 84.83 states that clutches "...are used to connect or disconnect the drive at will. They include:

Friction clutches in which rotating discs, rings, cones, etc. with friction surfaces, can be engaged or disengaged; dog (or claw) clutches in which the opposing members have projections and corresponding slots; automatic centrifugal clutches which engage or disengage according to the speed of rotation; compressed air clutches; hydraulic clutches; etc."

EN 84.83 states that shaft couplings including universal joints "...include sleeve couplings, flange couplings, flexible couplings, hydraulic couplings, etc., and universal couplings (such as Cardan joints and Oldham couplings)."

First, we must examine what the drive shaft is and how it functions. An examination of the literature submitted shows that the drive shaft is a solid steel shaft with two flexible connections on either end. The purpose of the flexible connections or "universal joints"/"Cardan joints" is to allow the shaft to rotate while twisted at different angles. The entire function of the complete drive shaft, normally found on agricultural tractors, is to allow the owner to use the power of the tractor's engine to drive external devices, such as pumps, sprayers, generators and the like. A flexible linkage between the tractor and the driven component is necessary. A rigid shaft would require that the pump, sprayer, generator, etc. be mounted in a straight line with the engine, a task not easily accomplished. In summary, the drive shaft is nothing more than an article that transfers rotational power from a drive source to a driven unit.

HRL 089375 classified a PTO assembly as a clutch under subheading 8483.60.40, HTSUS. The PTO assembly in HRL 089375 was described as "a mechanical device which is used to engage or disengage a drive source (engine, etc.) from the device being driven (pump, blower, etc.)." The PTO assembly was actually mounted between the engine and a pump and allowed the operator the ability to connect or disconnect the power transfer between the two. It is very similar to the clutch assembly found on a standard transmission automobile. Just as a driver would step on the clutch pedal to disengage the gears from the engine in order to change gears, the user of the PTO assembly had the same ability to change gears be shifting a lever.

The drive shaft at issue is not similar to the PTO assembly in HRL 089375 but is more akin to the drive axle of a car. It takes the rotation coming off of the transmission and causes the wheels to turn. It does not have the ability to make or break this connection. Indeed, the drive shaft does not have any moving parts, if the flexibility of the universal joints is ignored. The drive shaft at issue simply transfers torque.

It is the opinion of this office that the drive shaft at issue does not function as a clutch or universal joint, as described in EN 84.83. The drive shaft at issue cannot be used to connect or disconnect the drive at will. The drive shaft's function is to transmit rotary motive power from the tractor to an implement. The transmission of the rotary motive power is the function of a transmission shaft, not a clutch or universal joint. HCDCS, pg. 1325. The universal joints allow the transmission shaft to be connected to the tractor and the implement. Therefore, based on the information provided and EN 84.83, the drive shaft remains classified as other transmission shafts under subheading 8483.10.50, HTSUS.


The PTO Drive Shafts are classified under subheading 8483.10.50, HTSUS, as other transmission shafts, which are dutiable at the Column 1 rate of 4 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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