Thanks so much for the advice. I have the deck off of the mower right now, it comes off fairly easy with 3 mounting points and then disconnect the pto cable, easy peasy. I have yet to really inspect the spindle, but I can tell you that the shaft is wobbly instead of tight.
When I was mowing and heard the noise, I immediately shut it down, so maybe I got lucky and the mandrel didnít get wallowed out. If this is the case then I may just replace the bearings.
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When going after the bearings you can leave the blade on the shaft usually, remove the top pulley nut and tap the shaft out the bottom and the bearings will usually stay inside the housing. Look and make sure that there are no snap rings to remove (look at the parts IPL for such also) and if no snap rings tap out the lower bearing using a drift punch or large screwdriver.
Since it's a bad bearing do not be concerned about placement of the punch but go from side to side so as to not get the bearing hung sideways in the housing and have a clean place for the bearing to fall because their will be a steel spacer collar between the bearings and it will usually fall out with the bearing, then go after the top bearing in the same manner. The bearings are usually not a real tight fit on the shaft or in the housing, just good and snug fit. (unless they have spun on the shaft and or in the spindle housing.
You can usually see a number on the bearings and both are usually same size and can be usually bought at a Napa or auto store, will cost little more than flea bay but usually Napa will be a better bearing. You can also take your bearing number or a part number from the IPL and get a sack full from flea bat dirt cheap. (and the flea bay seem to last ok for me)
If any of the other spindles need bearings (sound noisy or dry) only do one spindle at a time, because if you lose track of any re-assembly you can then look at the one that's still intact for guidance. (A MTD/Craftsman IPL is not always exactly correct and or a Bubba has been into them before and added or throwed away some sper washers, etc. Watch the top pulley assembly, sometimes it has a up/down and maybe a spacer washer underneath. Also look at your top pulley at the shaft hole, sometimes they are stripped at the shaft and the pulley needs replaced.
Watch as you start torqueing the top and bottom nut and if the shaft don't keep turning freely, stop and figure out why.
You can probably also review such on you tube.