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John Deere 4x5 AWS linkage rebuild

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Re: 4x5 AWS linkage rebuild

4x5 AWS linkage rebuild with standard parts

I have a 455 AWS with loose steering links in it and it was wandering a little. The replacement parts from JD are expensive and you are only replacing it with parts that are the same as it had prior. I don't like the JD parts for the link between the front steering and rear steering because the rod end style is a very small ball and isn't greasable. The rebuild that I did on mine cost me about $120 for all three links.

In order to remove the old links, you need to get the dimples loosened somehow. I used an oxy/acet torch to heat up the dimpled areas until red and then the old rod ends rotated out easily.

Once removed, I ran a 5/8 NF tap into the ends to clean them up. If you don't have a tap, you can still do it but it will turn in a bit tight.

The rod ends that I picked are Heim ends and have a much larger sphere to them and should last a lot longer and have less play. They are also greasable. I picked up these at Summit Racing for $8.97 USD each. They are "QA1 PCM Series Rod Ends PCMR10Z". You will need 5 of these and 1 LH thread type.

Due to these being a male stud with hole type, you will need to use bolts and nuts to attach them. I know that you can get a male stud x male stud but I don't like that the hex under the stud is so small and may sink in to the steel a bit over time. I put hardened washers in between the ball and the steel plate to offset it a bit as well as provide a large load bearing area.
The washers can be purchased locally from a fastener supplier such as McMaster Carr, Grainger or Fastenal They are case hardened beveled tooling washers that tool and die makers often use.

You can see it installed in this photo.

These are the end products with 5/8 x 2 1/4 long grade 8 bolts, nuts and lock washers. After I am done I will have to check the alignment to make sure it tracks straight. There is an adjustable link with right and left threads for doing this. As long as they are all close to what you took off, it will be close.

Alignment procedure

I had a look in the manual prior to doing it and glad that I did. There are some alignment aid holes in the front and rear pivots for this purpose.
The front is where you start. You will need level ground and the tractor has to be flat and not raised up. It's easier if you have someone to help but can be done without.

First thing to do is center up the front steering. This is where the hole is in the front. When you can insert an 8mm rod (5/16 bolt works great) into the hole and it doesn't get crooked, you are set to start. This is where the hole is in the front. It won't stay in place due to gravity.

The rear alignment hole is behind the rear pivot bearing.

You can see that mine was off a bit after the replacement of the rod ends. I used a 3/8 clevis pin and the manual recommends a 10mm rod. It is obvious when you get it right.

For the adjustment that I needed, I had to shorten the assembly a bit. It has a left and right thread so you don't need to take it apart. When you tighten the jam nuts, keep in mind that you need to equalize the rod end play. If you tighten without paying attention to this, you will have some binding at the edges of the new heim ends. You should be able to turn the link and both rods ends will go full travel.

This is the end result.

To recap, these are the rod ends that were replaced (circled) and the alignment holes are shown as well.

The alignment is done and the tractor is so tight now. Tracks really well and responds quickly.


About 2 1/2 months after this was first posted on the forum, member BrIONwoshMunky posted the following. We have included it here.

I just went through and rebuilt my linkages using this thread. I cannot believe the difference. I didn't think things were really out of hand until I had all the new stuff installed and ALL slop is gone. My current 455 is the first experience I've had with an AWS Deere, and I really enjoy using it. However, the first time I looked at it, I was struck by the fact that none of those ball-joint linkages were greasable like they were on the F725 that I was sharing with my dad.

Using my current dealer as a metric, replacing all three linkage setups with factory replacements would set you back:

AM119832 - Front linkage - $81.12
AM119833 - Middle linkage/Long with turnbuckle - $74.18
AM119831 - Back Linkage - $78.54

For a grand total of $233.84 less any applied tax.

That's for parts you cannot grease easily, with a smaller load bearing area than the replacements suggested in this thread.

For the completed project in this thread, I spent:

Summit Racing:

5 x QA1 PCM Series Rod Ends PCMR10Z @ $8.97 ea. = $44.85
1 x QA1 PCM Series Rod Ends PCML10Z @ 8.97 ea. = $8.97

Shipping = $9.95

Summit Racing Total = $63.77

I couldn't find Case Hardened Beveled Tooling Washers locally at my fastener supplier, but I did find Extra Thick SAE and USS Grade 8 Flat Washers. These are just stamped steel, not machined like the tooling washers appear to be, and are approximately 1/4" thick. I used one of each USS and SAE, to give me nearly a 1/2" set-off.

So, for the fasteners, I needed a bolt, 2 flat washers, a split lock washer, and a nut. I also needed 5 jam nuts to fit on the RH rod ends which are 5/8" x 18 thread pitch. There is a LH jam nut already on the old end nearest the turnbuckle adjuster for the long linkage rod.

6 x 5/8-11 x 2 1/4" Hex Cap Screw @ $0.8718 ea. = $5.23
6 x 5/8 Hardened SAE Extra Thick Flat washers @ $0.46 ea. = $2.76
6 x 5/8 Hardened USS Extra Thick Flat Washer @ $0.7955 ea. = $4.77
6 x 5/8 Split Lockwasher Grade 8 @ $0.1434 ea. = $0.86
6 x 5/8-11 Hex Nut Grade 8 @ $0.2258 ea. = $1.35

5 x 5/8-18 Hex Jam Nut @ $0.2053 ea = $1.03

Total Fasteners = $16
Tax = $1.12
Total Fastener Bill = $17.12

Summit Bill and Fastener Bill = Total Project Cost = $80.89 tax included.

That means, while ending up with a superior end product, you end up SAVING about 65% of the cost over going with Deere parts.

This project is pretty much a no-brainer to me!

Thanks TECHIE1961 for doing the thinking!
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