Well...here goes, this is how it looked when I bought it three or four weeks ago for $70. It had been sitting a "couple of years", covered I believe. I bought it from a man in Ellenboro, NC that worked on mowers, mostly Deere John's I think from the look of his shop.
I have my work cut out for me on the hood. I think it was used as a battering ram.
It was a little rusty but, no rust thru. I evaluated the engine and transaxle operation before I made a decision to restore it. The engine ran really good after a carburetor cleaning, just a hint of blue smoke on start up. the transaxle operated fine but I later found a loose axle on disassembly, I was not deterred.
The axle is fixed with bearings. I sealed the case with Threebond, the same stuff I sealed my motorcycle case with. It works great and no leaks. I filled it with 80W-90 gear lube and turned it upside down, nary a drip. What about the shifter shaft you asked? I added an O-ring on top beneath the shfter arm. I filled the transaxle a little less than half way up, the gears with distribute it.
The bolts that secure the front axle support had loosened and a bolt had fell out of the support bracket for the transaxle. This allowed the front axle support and transaxle to rock around when the mower was in motion. The frame was stress cracked at the bolt holes in front and the frame had broke where the transxle mounts, a small piece of metal fell out when I unbolted the transaxle. I welded it up, ground it smooth but decided to add additonal support where the transaxle mounts. I made these supports from 1.25" angle and bolted them to the frame (see pictures). It's not going to be a concours restoration or show winner, I intend to use it like a mower so these minor modifications were necessary.
Above; metal strip added on top of the frame with one additional bolt added in the middle.
The wheels are sanded, primed and painted, new tires installed.
I took the liberty of replacing the front wheels bushings with bearings. The front axles were worn so I had to weld the worn areas and file them back to size so that the bearings had a nice seat on the axle and not wallowing around.
That's as far as I've gotten.