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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought I could figure this out but I can't. Hoping somebody can help.

Craftsman 917.270514

My sister and I purchased this tractor for my dad over 20 years ago and I have it now. He took pretty good care of it and I really want to keep it running if possible. I don't know if or when he last replaced the drive belt.

The problem is that the tractor will not shift gears when the engine is running. It also wasn't stopping (I think the transmission was overpowering the brakes). It shifts fine when the engine is off (or when the drive belt is not connected).

What I've done so far:

1) Took the brake assembly apart, cleaned, and put back together making sure everything is working and properly adjusted.

2) Replaced the existing drive belt (#57 in attached diagram) with one ordered directly from Sears.

Both the existing belt and the new sear's belt were the same length (95") and seemed tight to me. Even with clutch/brake deployed, it was difficult to remove the old and to put the new one on.

And after putting on the new belt from sears, the problem remained. I still couldn't shift when engine is running.

But I've read that the craftsman does better with a 95 1/2 inch belt, not 95", so I...

3) Ordered a generic belt from amazon, 1/2 x 95 1/2". This belt was much easier to slip on, but the problem remained. The belt was still moving a bit when the brake/clutch was engaged, so I...

4) Replaced both idler pulleys (#38 and #47). Bingo, I thought. Now when I hit the brake/clutch, the belt stops moving (or certainly appears to stop). But, it still won't shift. And I'm totally confused. It does stop now, however.

I went ahead and removed the belt completely, started it up, and it shifts fine. So it's obviously still some kind of belt or pulley issue, right?

(And this is what really adds to my confusion. Wouldn't "no belt" and "belt not moving when clutch is engaged" be the same thing? Unless the belt is moving ever so slightly and still turning the transmission pulley?)

I have the checked and re-checked to make sure the belt is routed correctly. All guides appear to be in the correct position.

Any idea of what else I can try? Could it be the pulley on the transaxle (#3 in diagram below)? I attached a couple pictures of the transaxle pulley which does not appear to be in the best of shape. If so, how difficult/dangerous (for a non-mechanic like me) is that pulley to replace?

I feel like I'm close to figuring this out. Really don't want to buy a new tractor. Please help if you can :)






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See item #22 in the owners manual at searspartsdirect, page 49,


If there is a load on the pulley, trying to turn the shaft, it may make the selected gear want to turn slightly, and make the 'keys' harder to get to go into place, or make the gears hard to slide over the keys.
If there is not enough grease inside, or the grease has become diluted, or the keys or key slots are worn, it may make it harder to select a gear. You could look at the outside of the case to determine if it appears to have leaked out some of the grease. The grease is very thick, thicker than peanut butter for comparison, so would have very slow leakage.
I would try shifting to the selected gear, and then start the engine. The manual cautions against shifting while in motion. If it was shifted while moving as a common practice, the keys and such may be worn. The parts are pretty much NLA.
Read all about it:

the same 'keys' are used in both DANA transaxles.

tom
 
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Pretty sure it takes Bentonite grease.(clay based and very thick)(and not cheap) Looked up the part # for grease on the transaxle blow-up parts list one page behind the picture page, as noted above, and followed the bread crumbs.
My expectation is the 'keys' have rounded/damaged corners or are sloppy in the groove, and the slightest input of energy moves the gears so they do not line up, causing hard or no-shift condition. I am not an engineer, so take with a box of salt.
I have one that is about 25 years in service, and it is getting slightly hard to put in gear, engine running, not moving. I do not shift while in motion, but the PO may have done so, or there is just normal wear.
A last consideration would be to take the thing apart, clean out the old grease and add new. If the old has 'moved away' from all the parts, it may allow the slightest bit of energy to move the bits out of 'at rest' position, and cause the hard shift. Adding new grease MAY make the gears sit still and allow shifting.
tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it. I think you're probably right about what is going on with the "keys". While I don't think he regularly shifted it while in motion, I do know that it has been getting harder to shift for years, and my dad would have to "rock" the mower forward and back to get it to change gears.

It looks like the keys can be bought on eBay for over $100 (shipped from Germany), but even if I was willing to pay that, I'm not so sure I'm up for the challenge of replacing them.

But, it may not be necessary quite yet.

I wanted to make sure I tried everything I could think of before going that route, so today I tried another belt. The generic 95.5" belt I purchased looks similar to the other belts, but was not labeled as a "v-belt". I have no idea if that matters, but for the heck of it I purchased one last belt, a 95 11/16" v-belt.

I also took apart the the clutch arm/hinge thing (#48), cleaned everything, applied grease to the bushing (#150) and put it back together.

And it worked.

The mower is now shifting and stopping. I haven't put the deck back on yet, so hopefully there will be no issues there, but as right now for the few minutes I tested, it appears to be working.

😀(y)
 

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Never knew these things to be so finicky. But now I know a possible point of cleaning and lubrication that may keep me from getting to where it cannot be shifted normally(engine running).
tom
 
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