OK, I actually ordered the axle seal (an amazing $ 6.50 shipped on Ebay) and got it today. I was hoping I could make my way into it without removing the whole transaxle from the tractor. I just hate having to remove all the linkages etc.
Anyway here are the pictures from my progress.
First I took the wheel off and removed the dust cover
The nut is sitting with a special lock disc that has a tab going into the key way. You have to bend it back a little from the nut. Once that is done the nut came off easily.
Here is the spindle removed. Remember not to loose the key
This is the axle sticking out after the wheel spindle is removed.
Once all the bolts are removed you can slide the axle support and the axle out.
BUT - the axle goes into the transaxle some ways. So the top ear of the axle support hits the frame before it can be slid back far enough.
So close yet so far
The leaking seal is right there and serviceable from the outside of the transmission.
For now I gave it some blue Permatex sealant around the area where the two parts mate up. We will see if that will hold up good enough for now.
The repair of replacing the seal actually doesn't look too difficult - just a lot of work to take the transaxle completely out. I guess the axle seals are not commonly replaced.
I can see on the new seal that this is not just an O-ring. This is a very complex seal with a built in spring to tension around the axle. I guess I have not worked with these axle seals before so I didn't know what to expect.
BTW when I was pulling out the axle I could hear a little ratcheting noise from the transaxle. And when I pushed it back in I had to turn it around to make it catch something. Do you know what is in there - it sounds like some kind of ball detent that goes into a keyway ?? I was a bit afraid at first when I couldn't push the axle back in. But I just drove it around the back yard and it drives strong and smooth.
Please let me know if you have any input on what the inside of that transaxle looks like and how the axle is attached.
I guess I know for next time at least that I do not have to take the whole wheel spindle off as it all comes off with the axle support.