Saturday, October 6, 2018

Fixing the Big Lawnmower

One of the big lawnmowers, the Cub Cadet owned by a friend of mine, stopped in its tracks. The engine was running fine, but it just wouldn't go. Dead. I was quite surprised to learn that my friend managed to push it back to the house. Egads, she'd 76 years old! And not even a farm girl. I'm impressed. 

I was asked to take a look-see to determine what needed to be done. Removing the mower deck and  propping up the tractor in order to look under, it didn't take long to see the partially shredded drive belt. 

It was exactly the problem that my friend thought it would be. 

Above, most of the old belt was still in place on the pulleys, but back by the rear transmission, shreds were hanging down. Ok, go buy a replacement belt and get to work. 

I've never replaced the drive belt on a lawn tractor before, so I first read the owner's manual. It was clear as mud. The place where we bought the belt gave us a diagram of how the belt should run. That didn't help either since there were no instructions on how to do it. So what to do? Google it! Thank heavens for YouTube. After watching several YouTube videos, I was ready to tackle the job. It didn't look all that difficult. HA!!! Little did I know! 

Not knowing what I was doing, I first reached under and used my impact wrench to remove the clutch guard and clutch, thus freeing the belt from the engine. But I soon realized that unlike some of the YouTube videos, I needed more working space. So I pushed the tractor up onto the ramps. Settling on my back, I proceeded to follow the various steps. That's when I discovered that the belt had shredded into multiple fine strands and braided themselves around the transmission shaft, out of sight and out of reach except by finger tips. ....... Back to google. 

Not finding clear instructions on how to expose the transmission shaft and get everything back together again correctly, I decided not to go that route. So I ended up laying on my back for for close to 3 hours with my arms over head, gradually teasing piece by piece of that dastardly belt out of the rats nest it had made down inside a hole around the shaft. Eeeerrrggg. I think I deserve an "A" for patience and persistence. 

3 1/2 hours from the start, my arms were pau. They trembled and I couldn't hold them over my head anymore, time to call it a day. 

Day #2, arms sore but now functioning, I quickly finished the job. Old belt removed, new belt installed, all the pieces back together. 

The last step was to reinstall the mower deck. Sounds simple, no? Well that didn't go easy either. I followed the owner manual instructions, and I couldn't do it. Again, back to a Google search. Found someone complaining about the exact problem I was having, and lo and behold, the instructions were wrong! Instead of using a ratchet handle and pushing to the right, things only worked if pushed to the left. How about that. Once I learned that, the deck got into place fairly quickly. 

My friend took it for a short test drive and it seemed to work ok. Success, for now. 

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