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Old 09-24-2008, 04:18 PM   #1
emptx
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Default GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

Hello,

I have a new (to me) Craftsman GT5000 Model 917.276081. From the serial number I believe it is a 2004 model. It does not have the original engine. Instead, it has a new 26 hp B&S ELS with the updated air filter cover. It is a hydrostatic shift instead of manual shift.

I have owned this mower for about 6 months now and up until a couple of weeks ago, I've had no problems. Whenever you first start cutting, the mower does fine. It has no problems going forward or reverse, although the reverse seems really slow compared to my previous MTD mower. After about 20-30 minutes of cutting (with temperatures in the mid-80s F), reverse gets really slow, but forward speeds only diminish very slightly with a very slight and brief growl when going into the upper range of the forward speeds. After another 15 minutes, the reverse is gone and when going forward, the growl gets a little louder and I have to push the lever forward more than usual to reach my desired speed. At this point I did touch the transaxle housing and it was very warm, but not 'burn your hand' type hot. The cooling fan on top of the transaxle is intact and does have all of it's fins. There was also some "play" in the drive belt at this time. I did not measure the amount of play, but I estimate at least 1 1/2". I also tried the suggested method of purging the transmission of air on page 14 and 15 of the owner's manual and this did not seem to help.

If I shut the mower down and let it sit for roughly 45 minutes to an hour, I can fire it up again and the forward/reverse is much better, although not as good as it should be.

I suspect the problem is either with the drive belt, pulley or possibly the transaxle. To my knowledge, the drive belt has never been replaced.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

emptx
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:26 PM   #2
Everlandfarm
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by emptx View Post
Hello,

I have a new (to me) Craftsman GT5000 Model 917.276081. From the serial number I believe it is a 2004 model. It does not have the original engine. Instead, it has a new 26 hp B&S ELS with the updated air filter cover. It is a hydrostatic shift instead of manual shift.

I have owned this mower for about 6 months now and up until a couple of weeks ago, I've had no problems. Whenever you first start cutting, the mower does fine. It has no problems going forward or reverse, although the reverse seems really slow compared to my previous MTD mower. After about 20-30 minutes of cutting (with temperatures in the mid-80s F), reverse gets really slow, but forward speeds only diminish very slightly with a very slight and brief growl when going into the upper range of the forward speeds. After another 15 minutes, the reverse is gone and when going forward, the growl gets a little louder and I have to push the lever forward more than usual to reach my desired speed. At this point I did touch the transaxle housing and it was very warm, but not 'burn your hand' type hot. The cooling fan on top of the transaxle is intact and does have all of it's fins. There was also some "play" in the drive belt at this time. I did not measure the amount of play, but I estimate at least 1 1/2". I also tried the suggested method of purging the transmission of air on page 14 and 15 of the owner's manual and this did not seem to help.

If I shut the mower down and let it sit for roughly 45 minutes to an hour, I can fire it up again and the forward/reverse is much better, although not as good as it should be.

I suspect the problem is either with the drive belt, pulley or possibly the transaxle. To my knowledge, the drive belt has never been replaced.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

emptx
Drive belt is about $15, you should have a spare around anyway IMO. If the pedal was up as in not locked down the belt should be tight. My GT needs a new drive belt (manual trans) every two years so you're overdue.

Good Luck,

Ev
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

I can not be of any help with you loosing speed as time goes on but I can tell you that it seems the newer GTs go very slow in reverse. I do not know why but they are designed that way. My LT goes much faster in reverse than my GT does. The guy i bought the GT from had a second older GT and kept that one because it went faster in reverse.

Loosing speed as time goes on sounds like something in the transaxle is heating up. I do not think a worn belt would this alone. Is the transaxle fluid level full?
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

All new mowers seem to go slow in reverse anyway( for saftey?) Ones ive seen that dont are older MTD tractors- those things are super fast in reverse because of the drive setups ( i know- i have like 8 of them).
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
emptx
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

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Originally Posted by Everlandfarm View Post
Drive belt is about $15, you should have a spare around anyway IMO. If the pedal was up as in not locked down the belt should be tight. My GT needs a new drive belt (manual trans) every two years so you're overdue.

Good Luck,

Ev

Thanks for the reply.

Was that $15 belt from Sears? I've found the belt on searspartsdirect.com, but they are asking close to $43. I have found a PIX brand on eBay for $20. Any thoughts on whether I should stay with Sears brand or try another?

emptx.
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:28 PM   #6
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

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Originally Posted by Macrosill View Post
I can not be of any help with you loosing speed as time goes on but I can tell you that it seems the newer GTs go very slow in reverse. I do not know why but they are designed that way. My LT goes much faster in reverse than my GT does. The guy i bought the GT from had a second older GT and kept that one because it went faster in reverse.

Loosing speed as time goes on sounds like something in the transaxle is heating up. I do not think a worn belt would this alone. Is the transaxle fluid level full?

Thanks.

Good question. I'll get that checked and report back.

emptx
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Old 09-27-2008, 11:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

I recently ordered a drive belt from here:

http://mfgsupply.com/

After shipping and tax it was significantly cheaper than Sears. 35% cheaper.

Heard good things about this site also:

http://www.outdoordistributors.com/
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Old 09-27-2008, 04:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

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Originally Posted by emptx View Post
Thanks for the reply.

Was that $15 belt from Sears? I've found the belt on searspartsdirect.com, but they are asking close to $43. I have found a PIX brand on eBay for $20. Any thoughts on whether I should stay with Sears brand or try another?

emptx.
I think the last one I got for the GT was from TSC about a year ago. I know things are going up in price, however..... My only loyalty to sears is if I can't buy it someplace else. however, a nice thing about sears is that you know immediately if it's in stock when you order and you'll get it in a few days. Some online dealers take your $$ and then ORDER the part themselves leaving you waiting.... With the pedal UP the belt should be tight-period. If it is perhaps something else is happening, if it is loose then the belt is probably slipping. On my '04 GT 500 it tells me when the belt has stretched by throwing the belt off the trans pulley. Hope this helps.

Ev
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Old 09-27-2008, 04:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

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Originally Posted by Everlandfarm View Post
I think the last one I got for the GT was from TSC about a year ago. I know things are going up in price, however..... My only loyalty to sears is if I can't buy it someplace else. however, a nice thing about sears is that you know immediately if it's in stock when you order and you'll get it in a few days. Some online dealers take your $$ and then ORDER the part themselves leaving you waiting.... With the pedal UP the belt should be tight-period. If it is perhaps something else is happening, if it is loose then the belt is probably slipping. On my '04 GT 500 it tells me when the belt has stretched by throwing the belt off the trans pulley. Hope this helps.

Ev
I think we're all assuming that you've checked the linkage to the tensioning pulley which is operated by the pedal and it's moving free and the spring can tighten the belt? Also, that all the idler pulleys are in place and rolling free.
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Old 09-27-2008, 07:37 PM   #10
emptx
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Everlandfarm View Post
I think the last one I got for the GT was from TSC about a year ago. I know things are going up in price, however..... My only loyalty to sears is if I can't buy it someplace else. however, a nice thing about sears is that you know immediately if it's in stock when you order and you'll get it in a few days. Some online dealers take your $$ and then ORDER the part themselves leaving you waiting.... With the pedal UP the belt should be tight-period. If it is perhaps something else is happening, if it is loose then the belt is probably slipping. On my '04 GT 500 it tells me when the belt has stretched by throwing the belt off the trans pulley. Hope this helps.

Ev
With the pedal up, the belt is not tight. It is easy to move the belt back and forth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Everlandfarm View Post
I think we're all assuming that you've checked the linkage to the tensioning pulley which is operated by the pedal and it's moving free and the spring can tighten the belt? Also, that all the idler pulleys are in place and rolling free.
The linkage and spring appear to be working properly. Also, the idler pulleys are free and can roll.

I went ahead and ordered a drive belt. I hope this fixes the problem, but if not, it sounds like it was due for a new one anyway.

emptx.
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Old 09-27-2008, 10:48 PM   #11
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or trans axle problem

Change the oil in your trans axle, 20w-50 Syn. You could also change the trans filter, Sears sells a filter kit pn# 178321 , but they over priced. You can get one Here And also read the Hydro-Gear 331-3000 trans axle servicing, Sticky.
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Old 09-28-2008, 10:14 AM   #12
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

Glen has a very good point, change the fluid, also filter if so equipped. I got a '88 Roper trans issue straightened out by just changing the fluid. It doesn't take a lot of fluid and it's probably time to do that anyway, particuarly if you're interested in longevity with this machine.

If you google "AYP + 161597" you'll find all the online dealers that offer your drive belt. The price range was $17.99-$39.99 plus S&H. The various sites also identified the belt size as either 1/2" X 82 1/2" or 82 3/4". With this info in hand, next time you're at TSC or NAPA (one of the big parts stores sells belts, forget which?) you can pick up a spare for around $20, or at least file this info away for next time.

My comments about having to replace the drive belt every two years is on a manual trans which is not abused but certainly worked hard in very hilly terrain. As to "newer" machines going slow in reverse, no idea? Mine is a '04 and if I'm in high range going in reverse, it's almost too fast.

BTW, congrats, you're learning about the machine, parts sources, etc. From a zen standpoint, you and the machine are becoming one.....:-)

Ev
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Old 10-03-2008, 11:38 PM   #13
emptx
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Default Re: GT5000 and possible drive belt and/or transaxle problem

Glenn M,

Thanks for the reply. I'll read the Sticky for "Hydro-Gear 331-3000 trans axle servicing" carefully before attempting a fluid change.

Everlandfarm,

Thanks to you as well for your helpful suggestions.

I'm still waiting for the drive belt and hope it gets here soon so I can get started. I'll post back when I get the chance to work on my machine.

emptx.
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