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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know some people hate capstan drive and some people love it, I wanted to see what MTF has to say, does it work good, pointless? For me it works ok, I think the gear is getting slightly worn on the “normal” setting and I have to kick it to “heavy” to get a consistent speed. I might just replace my drive gears. The old ones are getting warn. The one system that was terrible was the top belt drive system. That was the worst thing lawnboy did, the belt always slipped and broke easily because it was as thin as two ruberbands. I much prefer the worm gear. What’s MTF think?
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thattractorguy
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I used to work maintaining camps when I was a kid (in the early 1970's), I thought the capstan drives were pointless, any moisture and they essentially quit working, then the capstan gets some wear on it and makes it even worse. OK on a flat lawn I suppose, but I had decent hills to work on.
 

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The Personal Pace drive on my Toro isn't bad. It definitely drives the wheels even when things are a bit moist still.
 

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Well I currently have 2 capstan drive models in the fleet. My Liberty that I use weekly on my next door neighbors lawn and an 8231 from 1973 that I used for a few seasons before I bought my first F series. Never had any problems with either. Here are the issues however. Wet tires with wet grass can cause loss of drive however those conditions alone may not be the issue. Old tires equals old, hard rubber equals less grip in the rollers. The self propelled wheels from Lawnboy use a softer compound for better grip. Over the years rubber cures out and becomes hard. If you tap the rubber with a screwdriver and it sounds like hard plastic then the tire is too hard to grip properly. The rubber should make a dull thud when tapped. Next the rollers. The grooves need to be cleaned periodically. Also worn rollers should be replaced. Finally proper adjustment of the rod to obtain proper clearance of the rollers to the wheels. Properly adjusted and with the proper tires and good rollers the capstan drive system works well. Take any of these factors out and you may experience issues. Bill
 

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I have found that paint "stir stick" like you get from most lumberyards or paint stores are almost exactly 3/16" thick. They make an excellent gauge for the clearance between between the drive roller and the wheels. The capstan drive always seemed more like a drive wheel "assist" than a full self propelled. That said, LB stuck with them for nearly 20 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I used to work maintaining camps when I was a kid (in the early 1970's), I thought the capstan drives were pointless, any moisture and they essentially quit working, then the capstan gets some wear on it and makes it even worse. OK on a flat lawn I suppose, but I had decent hills to work on.
It definitely does not work in the front yard since it’s steep but the backyards relatively flat so it works good provided the grass is as dry as a bone
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well I currently have 2 capstan drive models in the fleet. My Liberty that I use weekly on my next door neighbors lawn and an 8231 from 1973 that I used for a few seasons before I bought my first F series. Never had any problems with either. Here are the issues however. Wet tires with wet grass can cause loss of drive however those conditions alone may not be the issue. Old tires equals old, hard rubber equals less grip in the rollers. The self propelled wheels from Lawnboy use a softer compound for better grip. Over the years rubber cures out and becomes hard. If you tap the rubber with a screwdriver and it sounds like hard plastic then the tire is too hard to grip properly. The rubber should make a dull thud when tapped. Next the rollers. The grooves need to be cleaned periodically. Also worn rollers should be replaced. Finally proper adjustment of the rod to obtain proper clearance of the rollers to the wheels. Properly adjusted and with the proper tires and good rollers the capstan drive system works well. Take any of these factors out and you may experience issues. Bill
I agree bill. The tires on the 8270 still have some play in them for squishiness but I don’t think that will last for much longer. Since I never mow wet yards, I never seem to have this problem but I’ve heard it’s a nightmare to do. I am considering getting new rollers or swapping for my better set. the set I have on now seems to work ok in the backyard but if I want to go anywhere it has to be set on heavy
 

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My old SENSATION COMMERCIAL weighs a ton but it has steel wheels with bearings and grease fittings so it moves fairly well, now I am using an old Lawn Boy that I resurrected ..the light weight is just one of the great features of Lawn Boys....I just use the push mowers for doing the perimeter and use a Broadmoor to mow the rest
 

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I've owned a few capstan models in the past and if they are adjusted properly and have good tires/rollers the drive can be pretty decent. I currently own a '73 8229C top belt-drive model and haven't had any issues with belt slipping/breaking so far. I think most issues occurred on early style models produced from 1968-72. The gear-drive models have better power output on the drive but I'm not a big fan of the extra seals and gaskets involved. That being said, give me a push model all day long. There's really no need for self-propelled when you have a lightweight aluminum or mag deck plus the 2 cycle engine.
 

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I wanted to add this. I am a healthy, active, very soon to be 70 year old who enjoys mowing and hope to continue. I can certainly push my 19 inch and 21 inch mowers with no problem however I have no problem using the capstan drive Liberty to "help" a bit. I use the 19 inch on my next door neighbors yard to get around the house, garage, trees, beds, etc. Then break out the Liberty capstan drive and enjoy the assist. Do I need it? No! Do I enjoy using it? You bet!! Bill
 

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The only working capstan unit I have at the moment is my 8243AE1. Since I've replaced the rollers it's been working well, actually pulls pretty decent. Just have to use it when it's dry otherwise there's less grip, but I do like it.
 
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I’ve only used one capstan drive Lawnboy in my life, and that was an Air Force owned Lawn-boy while stationed in Denver CO back in the 80’s. It was a shaft-drive D-400, a great mower, but like Mark, I would rather just have a pusher any day, especially when mowing around objects, just so much wasted energy and time engaging and disengaging that handle.

BTW the Denver area has some awesome grass. Probably the best turf of all the places I’ve lived.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I wanted to add this. I am a healthy, active, very soon to be 70 year old who enjoys mowing and hope to continue. I can certainly push my 19 inch and 21 inch mowers with no problem however I have no problem using the capstan drive Liberty to "help" a bit. I use the 19 inch on my next door neighbors yard to get around the house, garage, trees, beds, etc. Then break out the Liberty capstan drive and enjoy the assist. Do I need it? No! Do I enjoy using it? You bet!! Bill
Agreed bill. The capstan is nice when it works but sometimes it’s fun to push a mag deck around the yard.
 
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