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Brake band removal without dropping transaxle?

7093 Views 16 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  GT_80
I am reviewing the process to drop my trans to rebuild my brake band. I really don't want to go through all that! Is it possible to remove the brake band bolts and slide the band rearward/downward while expanding it open to slip over the drum?

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Not really.... pretty much have to drop the tranny to get it done.
Yeah,even if you could get at those bolts and loosen them,get them off,the brake lining will not survive being flexed the amount to get the band off the drum..

The chassis is just too close to weasel it out of there without damage,at least in my experience..this is a rather lousy design,the chassis should be an inch wider,that would make drive belt replacement a lot easier too..

The brake lining on one of my Suburban 12's decided to break into chunks recently,so it lost the brakes--not something I can do without,as I mow with it,and have a few areas I could go down hill over a 2 foot high retaining wall,so I had to do something,and dropping the transaxle was not high on my list of things I'd like to do either..

What I did that seems to have worked well at least temporarily,was to take a length of an old serpentine belt I had,cut it to the same length as the lining would be,and after ensuring all the old brake lining was no longer on the band,I put some black RTV on the grooved side of the belt, and put the grooved side towards the band,and I was able to shove the belt in where the lining goes,by rolling one tire with it jacked up,it helped pull the belt into place while I guided it,just like the lining was,I had to coax it in all the way with a screwdriver too--once it was aligned right, I used a ratchet strap to pull the clutch.brake pedal down all the way,and left it that way overnight..
So far the brakes work great,it'll skid the tires easily on pavement!...but I wont be surprised if they "go out" again suddenly,I'm hoping it wont...those serpentine belts are made of some pretty tough rubber with fiberglass and other stuff mixed long as it stays on the band I bet it'll last awhile..
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Great fix!

Mine still has remnants in there so can't try your fix unless I get up in there and yank it out. I adjusted my brakes using the little I have and it is doing pretty good now.

How thick is the replacement material from McMasters? I have some industrial conveyor belt material that would probably do in a pinch if I had to try your fix. It is about 1/8".
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Did you have to work past the rivets? I would think they would protrude and impeded sliding the material in place.
The brake band on my tractor had no rivets--or if there was any,I saw no evidence of them,or holes they went into...I think the lining was glued on with some type of industrial adhesive perhaps,but no traces of it were visible..after 40 years it probably turned to dust or was rubbed off by the brake drum..

I wish they had put a disc brake on the Suburbans that is more serviceable without needing to drop the transaxle.

On another Suburban 12 I own,the brake lining came off the drum,it too had no rivets--but after I dropped the transaxle to fix the brake lining,I used J-B weld putty and added 3 or 4 pop rivets to the band & lining..countersunk the holes in the lining with a drill bit by hand..
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I was up under my GT18 and I can see rivets on the outside of the band.

There is a hole under the gas tank (for the line to pass) that looks like it might improve access to work a temporary lining in line you did.
I would recommend dropping the tranny. Do it right the first time. When I dropped mine I was able to check it all over and make sure everything was as it should be. I found one of the mounting bolts needed to be replaced. I was also able to give the tranny a good cleaning and repaint.
Yes, indeed, it is possible to change the brake band without removing the transaxle from the tractor. I've done it. You have to bend the band enough to get it over the drum. When you do that, you'll break the lining material or the glue holding it to the band.. That upper band bolt is dang near impossible to get to unless you fabricate a very specialized wrench, or drill a big hole in the frame.

It ain't worth it. Go ahead and pull the transaxle and do it right.
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Here is my write up on rearend removal. It has the part numbers and procedure for relining the brake band,

Sears Suburban Rearend Removal; Brake and Belt Replacement. - GTtalk
Pulling the transaxle really isn't a bad job if you have the time set aside to do so. Just work through it slow and methodically - not a tough job by any means and it gives you an excellent opportunity to clean/paint the transmission, check/replace drive belt, and look everything over. Can easily be done in an afternoon if you are just replacing the brake band.
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I plan to replace the one I temporarily "fixed" with the serpentine belt as a lining sometime before next spring,since I use that particular tractor as the mower mostly,I just wanted a quick fix that hopefully works until I no longer need it to mow or mulch leaves,which is likely only till the end of this month...

I'm hoping I wont run into any other troubles when I go to drop the transaxle,like find stripped bolt holes in its aluminum casting,or have any bolts break off in it,etc..
I may just run it like it is,just to see how long it'll last too..before committing to doing it "right"..
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On my GT18 (917.255917) I found there was enough room to slide the band off to the left and remove it. Pulling the drawbar made it all possible.

I jacked the tractor up and put jackstands under the rear axle, then pulled the wheels. There are 6 1" bolts with lock nuts, plus 4 longer 7/16" bolts into the transaxle, holding the drawbar in place. Once the drawbar is out, there are two 1/4x20 carriage bolts holding the lower leg of the band, and one 5/16 carriage bolt holding the upper section. Pulling these will allow you to remove the band.

Mine had NO lining left. I bought the 1"x3/16"x 12" non-metallic brake lining from McMaster. It fit without cutting. I used PL200 construction adhesive, and added 5 aluminum pop rivets for good measure. Following another member's suggestion, after drilling for the rivets I eased the lining face with a 3/16" bit, hand held (no drill) just to open up for the rivet. I then peened the rivets back below the surface of the band.

I found it necessary to slack the brake rod substantially, practically all the way off the clevis. Getting those carriage bolts in is not easy, but it can be done. Reinstall the drawbar, and follow instructions for Brake Adjustment in the manual (remove the cover plate from the LH frame rail and use a 9/16 wrench on the nut -- 2 flats at a time!).

This tractor stops on a dime now. Takes some getting used to, but it's a whole lot better than no brakes at all!!!
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To update--my serpentine "brake band" Magyver fix is still working good!..can still skid the tires on tar,about 3 years worth of mowing a acre of lawn too...and I doubt any of the adhesive RTV I put on the belt actually stayed on it and did much to glue it to the band,most of it got scraped off during the installation..the belt itself is resistant to bending,it feels like a flat spring,and it puts tension against the band--once its bolted on,it cant really "fall out" easily..I would think it would have by now,if it were going too..

Also I goofed when I said I put the smooth side of the belt towards the brake drum--I meant to say "band"...the grooved side is what you want facing the drum,it has all the "meat"..if you put it the other way,once the smooth part of the belt wore down,the grooves would separate and get munched and fall off...

I bet you could weasel the brake band off by taking off only one side of the transaxle mounting bolts ,it might let it tilt down enough to do so without having to pull the transaxle out completely..but seeing this "belt trick" worked pretty good,I'll probably do it again,rather than have to yank out the transaxle..
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Sears has the brake band in stock. No need to figure out what epoxy to use. Lawn Tractor Brake Band | Part Number 583638601 | Sears PartsDirect As of 6/11/17
Just pull the trans- take the fenders off, and two other 3/8" bolts on rather side of the trans, and two 7/16" bolts on top, brake linkage. Can be in and out in a couple hours.

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