My Tractor Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an L130 and I remember it being easy to steer when it was new. Now I cant stand driving it because of how hard it is to turn the steering wheel. Last year I did an overhaul on the steering replacing the spindles, steering gears, steering bushings, tie rods and wheel bushings. Still not much better. It takes both hands and a firm grip to turn. Seems to take way too much force. What would make it turn easier? I had a troy built pony which felt like power steering compared to the L130.

Also, what is the trick to keeping the front wheel bushing caps on the wheel hubs? Mine pop off constantly and have been ran over a few times. I have to run it with out the caps and am sure the wheel bearings are taking a beating from all the dirt and grass clippings.
 

·
Proud Wheel Horse Owner
Joined
·
3,212 Posts
First, I'd suggest setting the tire pressures and then checking the front wheel alignment. It'll steer hard if the wheels aren't running parallel to each other.

If that doesn't cure it, support the front end, so the wheels are off the ground. Disconnect whatever tie-rods or drag links, etc. that connect the 2 wheels to each other, and to the steering. Now.....how does the steering wheel feel. If it's still pretty stiff, you know the problem is in the steering column and its bushings, or the gears and their bushings. If the steering is easier, you know it's in the spindles where they pass through the axle beam. Move the wheels back and forth by hand and determine if one or both are the problem. If either or both are stiff, remove the spindles from the beam axle and use a brake cylinder hone to hone the axle beam tubes until the spindles rotate easily. Clean up the spindle shafts if need be, with some emery cloth, grease and reassemble.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Great advice, thank you! When I jack the front end up even without disconnecting the tie rods, the steering becomes very easy.

I'll have to recheck the alignment. I remember having a problem with it being toed out. For some reason the adjustable tie rods were adjusted all the way in but it was still slightly toed out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,284 Posts
One thing I do when greasing the front spindles is jack up the front axle so the spindles can slide down in the axle then pump in the grease. This gets the maximum amount of grease onto the thrust surface that supports the weight of the front end. I also try to force some aerosol lube into all the ball joints on the tie rods.

Truthfully, the steering design is one of the areas where the bean counters were able to save a lot of money on the L100 series. The result is a lot of slop, bind, high point loadings, grit exposure, friction, wear and therefore high steering effort. For some reason they also suffer from terrible "push" when making tight turns although this could be the tires.

When I started out messing with LTs a few years back I began buying dead L100 series units, refurbing them and selling them. I also picked up some higher line units as projects to keep; an LT166, then an LX178 and then a GT245. I also ended up with some Craftsman, Murray and a Simplicity. Each unit contributed to my growing knowledge and one of the main areas that differentiate between the cheaper units and the upscale units is steering feel. The LT166 was much nicer than the L100s, the LX178 was MUCH nicer than the LT much less the L100s and the GT245 is also very nice. That Simplicity was in a class of its own !

This nice steering feel is a direct result of the money the factory spent on design and execution. Large bearing areas, well sealed needle bearings or well sealed bushings ( versus the L100s exposed lower bushings and an upper bushing that fails almost instantly ), large gear tooth contact areas ( versus the L100s tiny, high friction contact point ) and stout housings to maintain alignment of the gears and the pitman arm ( watch the L100s steering sector wobble around as you turn the steering wheel back and forth ).

Sorry for the long post but I figure if you are on this site you want to learn things :) I'm not bashing your unit as I personally like tinkering with them and cutting grass with them and consider them superior to most of the other brands low end offerings. BUT , they were made to a price point and there will be inevitable design compromises to meet this target .

Good luck!
 

·
L120/G110 Hybridizer
Joined
·
1,198 Posts
Great advice, thank you! When I jack the front end up even without disconnecting the tie rods, the steering becomes very easy.

I'll have to recheck the alignment. I remember having a problem with it being toed out. For some reason the adjustable tie rods were adjusted all the way in but it was still slightly toed out.
The key to your problem is in your quote here. The L/LA/D series all have noticable TOE-IN when viewed from the front. If yours is toe-out or parallel, it will be hard(er) to steer. I'd recheck that frontend hardware.

Paul
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,777 Posts
These guys got you covered pretty good.

I sprayed a little white lithium grease on my steering gears yesterday on my X340. The teeth under the tractor. Man it steers smooth and easy now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The L130 has been a good mower for me. It's not the most heavy duty lawn tractor out there, but it mows well and I would like to keep it going. I injured my left arm last year and struggle with the stiff steering now.

I like the idea of that upgrade with adding a thrust washer! I will have to try it.

I'm getting ready for this mowing season and was just thinking about last year when I tried changing from wheel bushings to ball bearings on the L130 per the john deere service manual. After installing the new bearings from john deere and mowing my yard two times I noticed the steering became sloppy. I checked the wheel bearings and saw they had already fallen apart. I had john deere send new bearings and I installed them. Same thing happened again. After mowing a couple times the bearings were destroyed and most the balls had fallen out.

I gave up and switched back to bushings. Didnt seem to have any problems out of my bushings for the rest of last year. Now when I jack up the front end and wobble the wheels I notice excessive play in the wheels. The bushings have only one season on them. I wonder what would be causing my wheel bushings to wear out quickly? Maybe it is the same reason the bearings were being destroyed as well.

I have new adjustable tie rods which are adjusted all the way in but the toe is still way out. Probably from the wobbly wheels.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,970 Posts
The L130 has been a good mower for me. It's not the most heavy duty lawn tractor out there, but it mows well and I would like to keep it going. I injured my left arm last year and struggle with the stiff steering now.

I like the idea of that upgrade with adding a thrust washer! I will have to try it.

I'm getting ready for this mowing season and was just thinking about last year when I tried changing from wheel bushings to ball bearings on the L130 per the john deere service manual. After installing the new bearings from john deere and mowing my yard two times I noticed the steering became sloppy. I checked the wheel bearings and saw they had already fallen apart. I had john deere send new bearings and I installed them. Same thing happened again. After mowing a couple times the bearings were destroyed and most the balls had fallen out.

I gave up and switched back to bushings. Didnt seem to have any problems out of my bushings for the rest of last year. Now when I jack up the front end and wobble the wheels I notice excessive play in the wheels. The bushings have only one season on them. I wonder what would be causing my wheel bushings to wear out quickly? Maybe it is the same reason the bearings were being destroyed as well.

I have new adjustable tie rods which are adjusted all the way in but the toe is still way out. Probably from the wobbly wheels.
Here`s one place where you can get thrust washers.

http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-rolling-element-thrust-bearings/=r48ue6

I wanted to do this to get my 210 to turn easier, but did not have the extra room necessary between the spindle and axle. Hopefully you have enough space for the bearing and washers.
 

·
L120/G110 Hybridizer
Joined
·
1,198 Posts
If you refer to my previous post, I mentioned you should check the front end components. This series has different left and right spindle assemblies. When you did the first bearing replacement I'm guessing you swapped the left and right sides. The arm where the control arm attaches should be offset to the FRONT when the wheel is pointed straight ahead. You'll probably find that yours are offset to the back. That will cause massive amounts of TOE-OUT which is causing your hard steering and rapid component wear. Take a look (and post a picture) and get back with what you find.

Paul

P.S. That may also explain why your wheel caps keep popping off. I'll let you think about that for awhile.

Don't bother with the thrush washer mod until you fix the TOE-OUT or you'll just be wasting money.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
29,568 Posts
if the spindles are not worn or bent pull the front axle. the one on my L130 broke 3 times, and each time it did the steering got hard and the tires went to toe out BEFORE it snapped all the way. you could tell looking at the break it split most of the way for a while ahead of time, then finally snapped. being CI you would think it would shatter all at once, but all 3 times it was the same exact way in the same exact place. the little hole on the driver's left of center is where the split ran.

my spindles wore out too after about 400 hours, they should be perfectly straight but mine developed a taper.

I can tell you in my case the front end issues were the direct result of trailering on rough roads and my rough yard. sure the front end is a cheapened compared to others and even in perfect spec it is not that great to turn(especially at less than full speed) but I don't fault Deere for my abuse of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I worked on greasing the spindles, hubs and steering bushings. I also aired the front tires up to 22 psi. The tires say max 12 psi, but they felt too soft to me at 12. The steering turns easier now while sitting still. Almost like the new D100's I turned at Home Depot.

I noticed when I go in reverse the steering is much much easier than forward. I assume that has to do with the toe out?

As far as the toe out problem I measured the tires and they are a half inch toed out with the tie rods adjusted all the way in. It isnt enough for you to notice by eye looking at the mower, but I'm sure it has an affect on steering effort. The spindles are on right. I see nothing wrong with the condition or the way the steering gears, spindles or tie rods are assembled.

The axle is original with 640 hours. It has broken in half 3 times due to me abusing it. Once by crashing into a hidden rut in an over grown pasture. I am a welder by trade and was able to weld it back together. Being cast iron I expected it to be brittle, but it's been fine for 200 hours since the last time I broke it. The axle has slop in it and pushes back to the rear of the mower. Whats the normal amount of "play" in the axle? Does it sound like the center bushing is worn out?
 

·
Proud Wheel Horse Owner
Joined
·
3,212 Posts
That much toe-out probably becomes a lot of toe-out once the tractor is moving forward.

In the automotive world, rear wheel drive vehicles are set up with 1/8" toe-in, because with the rear wheels pushing them forward, that toe-in becomes zero. Front wheel drive vehicles are set up 1/8" toe-out, because the front wheels pull the toe inward when traveling forward.

So........I'd look at the geometries of everything and try to find out what's out of whack to the point that the tie-rods run out of adjustment before the toe is correct. If you're a welder, that may mean cutting both tie-rods and welding sleeves at the cuts, to make the tie-rods slightly longer, and giving you the threaded adjustment you need.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I consider shortening the tie rods, but really want to find out why the alignment is so far off.

When I replaced the spindles last year, one of the new spindle shafts were made wrong and was actually to short by a 1/4" to go all the way through the axle for hooking on the c clip. Instead of putting up with the hassle of sending them back I decided to grind a 1/4" off the top of the axle and made it work. I dont see how this would affect the alignment though.

I'll check the condition of the axle bushing. I wonder, is it possible for the axle to be on backwards? Although here's a pic. The grease zerk is to the front indicating its probably on the right way.

 

·
OLD TIRED CDN. MECHANIC
Joined
·
9,085 Posts
Looking at the toe out in the bottom pic and with you having said you are already at the end of the adjustment, I suspect the front wheels may have had a bump or two while travelling forward. That being the case, a little mechanical persuasion may be necessary to return to a toe in configuration. It happens.

Also when you said you replaced one king pin/spindle and it was of incorrect length, is it possible the steering arm on that piece was also incorrectly positioned for your model, thereby limiting the adjustment range ? Just a possibility.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top