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Had My Limits Cut Short Today

15012 Views 39 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  toscani
This is old hash here on my 54" mower deck on the JD 345. In the past two months I've replaced the PTO/Deck secondary belt three times. Today, It broke for the fourth time. From the time I install a new...M143019 ribbed belt from the PTO to the pulley on the deck, it doesn't take any time the belt starts twisting. Besides, it is so hot that I cannot tough it, and have to wait a few minutes for it to cool before removing it. I have the deck set to mow the grass at 2-1/2", and with that there is about 20 degrees angle belt drop from the PTO pulley to the deck pulley. This is the way it came from the dealer. To me, this appears the PTO pulley needs to be lengthen (down)about 2 inches, or the deck pulley raised about 2 inches. I think this is causing the belt to be so hot and also the twisting.

Anyway, I've had my fill on the replacing deck belts. Mentioned to the wife I would be tearing down the 345 and selling all the working parts on ebay this winter. Come spring, will be searching for ZTR model.

NOTE: Want to add some info. Went over the past 11 years receipts and counted that I have bought 17 belts for this mower deck at a cost of $577.83
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Geez... That's a ton of belts! Did you buy the 345 new? Dealer was never any help on this? I mean, I don't hear other 345 owners with that many belt issues?
I agree...I've never heard of this.

-did you buy it new?
-did this problem start suddenly? How long did the original last?
-got some photos of the belt routing?
Brett, I've spent several hours at the JD dealer I bought the 1999 345 from . BTW: It was new..."O" hours. Had several discussions regarding the belt issue. Both parts manager and repairman in shop told me, the 54" deck was the worst one they had back in 1998-2001. The only time..probably 4 years from 2001-2006 did I had to replace the belts about twice a year. . Reason. The dealer told me to lower the gauge wheels to the 2nd hole from the top spindle. This kept the mower deck from bouncing (up and down) on the sides, as it was causing the rear deck pulley to move more vertical. But, I was replacing deck wheels twice a year when during this change, Now that I'm back to have the deck wheels so they don't roll on the ground, I'm replacing the belt many times. I'm now buying two PTO/deck belts when I visit the dealer. Bought two on Aug. 26th. Both have broken as of today.
I just can't see how the dealer didn't step in and correct this issue. That's not "normal" they tell you the deck is the issue but I don't buy that simply because we'd have all sorts of 345 owners on here, threads on here, about deck problems.

Is this the same dealer that quoted you basically retail on a 700 series machine?

I'd say there has to be an issue somewhere, I don't claim to be knowledgeable enough to know where the issue resides, perhaps Engine Tech may know.

Any chance you can take some photos of the belt routing, how the belts run from the PTO to the deck etc? It may help to have more eyes on the problem.
I agree...I've never heard of this.

-did you buy it new?
-did this problem start suddenly? How long did the original last?
-got some photos of the belt routing?
Engine_Tech, It was NEW from the dealer..."O" hours. Yes, the original belt probably lasted 15 hours. I hauled it to the dealer...15 miles, and they..three repairmen and owner spent couple hours mowing their business lot and back on the stand to view the running of the PTO and belt. They couldn't find anything other than say replacing the belt was common for this series.
The original belt wasn't ribbed, and the parts manager told me they were changing the belt to a "ribbed" type in 2006. I started buying the ribbed belt at that time, and there's no difference in longevity.
Any chance you can take some photos of the belt routing, how the belts run from the PTO to the deck etc? It may help to have more eyes on the problem.

There's no routing matter here. The belt runs on the PTO pulley and back to the rear deck pulley. There's no idler or other pulleys involved here. The belt "doesn't" run in a true horizontal plane, it drops (angle) down about 2-1/2" to the deck pulley. From the outer belt edge on the PTO back to the rear deck pulley outer edge, the distance is about 27". With the 2-1/2" drop in 27", that is a lot of angle for a belt to run at 1500 rpms. or so.

NOTE: I will take a photo shot tomorrow on this belt and it's angle.
With all these belts failing you have never had any problems with bearings ? I had thought it might be belt tension related but if it was I d expect the pulley bearings to have been damaged as well ?

I understand that type of belt setup. My Craftsman had one huge belt to run all three blades and it ran directly to the PTO clutch pulley (54" deck so the belt was huge) and in 54 hours I had absolutely zero issues. And the belt angle changed depending on how high or low the deck was, and it was never an issue.

If there is some massive angle on the belt when the deck is down, then it sounds like the PTO pulley is too far away from the center line of the deck pulley, maybe the PTO pulley should be lower? Did Deere ever make any changes to the PTO pulley over the years of the series? Looking at should confirm whether changes had been made as there would be different PN's.

I dunno, all I know is I would NOT be happy about chewing belts up every time I turned around!
That is extremely odd. That ribbed belt is also very, very strong (developed for the uber powerful 355D) so it should have no problem on your 345. That's the "old 54" deck too, which never had any belt issues (neither did the later 54C, but regardless...).

A primary deck belt should last hundreds of hours no problem, regardless of the cut height. It's not going to run perfectly horizontal, and that's OK. Something is really, really odd about your tractor + deck.

Get us as many photos as you can of the belt on the tractor, and them maybe of the deck removed. Photos from the top so we can see all the components. Many of us have 54" decks and 345's, we'll get it worked out.
It's a good thing that I saved an old partly broken belt to put on the deck for the photos.

The dealer replaced the PTO clutch assembly, and the deck pulley sleave assembly after I had three broken belts. I think that was in year 2000.
They also replaced the belt tensioner assembly at that time. In 2006, I replaced the belt tensioner again, and the bushings and other parts on the rear deck pulley.

Here are some photos on the PTO/deck alignment on the 54" deck.

This photo is the PTO left side.

This photo is the right rear side of the pulley and it angle.

This is the left side of the rear pulley.

Right front side of the PTO belt angle

Another photo rear pulley.

PTO left side view

PTO left side again.
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There is no way that that much of an angle is correct. I don't know why it's not correct but it's no wonder it chews up belts.
wow, that can't be right.
That is an obvious John Deere design deficiency. Send those pictures to John Deere and request modifications to fix the problem.

If they do not provide a modification, post your pictures all over the internet.
I removed the mower jack sheave and it's assembly. Here is a photo of the pulley (top side) of the deck assembly. NOTE: The "heat" related scars on the flange of the pulley. The pulley has got so hot, it caused the paint to burn. I'm sure this is one of the main reasons the belts are getting "so" hot and separating.

Also, here is a photo shot of the two pulleys on the assembly. There is a "spacer" at the bottom...under the larger pulley.. It's about 5/16" thick. I'm guessing here, but, this may be where the problem occurs. I would bet this spacer should be at least 1" or 1-1/2" thickness. Allowing the pulley to be moved up at least 1-1/4"

I have a problem with the dealer on this matter. Like I have said, "I have taken this belt issue up with them at least 10 times." One time, they gave me new belt at no charge to shut me up. Another time, a repairman came by the home on his way from work just to look at the belt problem. He didn't have a clue to the exact problem, other to say, we have had many problems with this 54" deck.
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Here's what JD shows:

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Maybe the deck needs levelling? Pix make it look like it's nosediving...? They all have some angle but as stated, that's just too much. I'd be looking at the deck main pully being square with the deck if the deck is totally level within spec (front of blades 1/8"-1/4" higher in back).
I agree with HydroHarold. That deck pully looks like it's leaning forward. If your deck is level like it should be, it's very possible that the deck is bent where the pully attatches to the deck. If someone during shipment slid their forks under the deck with their forklift and picked that tractor up, that would push the deck up under the tractor and possibly damage something. Or if the deck was shipped by it's self in a carton or crate, and fell of the back of the truck while they were unloading it (those suckers are heavy), that could bend something. It would be nice if you could find another unit like yours to compare it to. I can't believe you've been putting up with this for 11 years. Good luck!
HydroHarold & jim335, I checked the deck level this morning after I pulled it out from under the tractor. With the guage wheels removed, and deck setting on a level concrete floor, the top rim of the jack sheave pulley (that would be the PTO pulley on the deck) shows it is level to the deck. These photos just make it look like it isn't level. The 5th photo down shows a better view of the pulley which seams to be level.

Today, I removed the ball bearing ...JD9296 from the jack sheave pulley. I'm replacing on the deck these parts.
1. JD9296 (2 ea.) $7.99 ea.
2. AM117245. Belt Tensioner Assembly. $71.00
3. AM116130 Belt Tensioner Handle. $8.50
4. M111358 Bushings. (4 ea.) $1.95 ea.
5. AM131779 PTO clutch assembly. $180.00
6. M118054 Left side rear lift arm. $16.75
7. M138896 Right side rear left arm $16.50
8. M78194 Jack sheave pivot post $24.75

Total dealer selling price... $341.28

With the above and parts over the last 11 years. total $1,368.00

When I bought the 345 in May 1999, the dealer didn't tell me I would be spending another $1,500.00 for parts.
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I would have never kept it in the first place. The first season when it ate a belt, and then in subsequent seasons ate more belts, it would have went back, even if I had to use the "L" word!

Per the diagram it looks like your deck is together correct, I don't understand why there is such an angle on the belt, but after seeing that angle it's no wonder it destroys belts.
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