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Discussion Starter #1
Been around the forum for awhile, reading how everyone doesn’t think much of the John Deere LA series. I am fully aware of the transmission issues but what else would you guys address? I have been starring at mine for the past couple days and have seen two things I may do in the coming months:

1. Box in the frame. This is something done on cars to increase the strength of the c-channel frame.
2. Reinforce the front axle. I know MIG welding a brace to the under side of the axle is a crap shot but could be worth it.

The reason I want to do these mods is to make the tractor last and hold up to the bucket I plan on putting on it (like the Johnny bucket).

So chime in with ideas and things you all have done to yours or recommend.
 

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I've been running a JBJr on an L120 (slightly older and smaller than yours) and it's held up well. I wouldn't worry about the front axle. If it breaks, they're cheap. Putting a brace underneath will obstruct your access to the single grease fitting. Just remember to grease it once in awhile. I've replaced the front wheel bushings with ball bearings (the mod is on here somewhere) and also did an undocumented addition of thrust washers between the axle shafts and axle. I have the part numbers around here somewhere. Oh, remember to lube the steering shaft on occasion - once a year or so.

Boxing in the frame may be overkill for the amount of work involved. Point of diminishing returns and all that...

That's about it. Good luck with your mods.

Paul
 

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if you are going to do that, get new BEARINGS for the steering/front wheels. you have bushings in there right now and on my L130 they wore out quickly.

if you get a chance to pull the front axle, see if there are 2 small holes on either side of the center mount hole. if they are there, THAT is your weak point. both axles i broke on my L130 split right thru the middle of one of the small holes.

lastly, i honestly cannot recommend using a bucket on a LA series, unless you really will only be hauling mulch or light loads. digging/hauling full buckets of rock/dirt will cause damage. it may be better to find an older GT for a few hundred bucks and put the JBJr on that. i have a Craftsman GT with no deck that used to be my plow/disc/culivate machine, now i have my tiller mounted to it and use the X500 for those other tasks. the L130 is relegated to cutting tower sites and spraying(if i ever get the front axle fixed again).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
DavidG, What started turning the wheels of modifying my tractor was looking for another GT in the 400-700 range. I have yet to locate anything worth while or nearby. There is a great selection up north and in the midwest but south Florida is scarce. My only finding is a 420 that doesn't run and is rusted pretty bad for 600 bucks. Anything viable is going to cost me at least 1200 bucks (tractor plus gas to drive up north somewhere to get it).

Ryanpf, aside from making the tractor more stout, modifying it scratches my itch for vehicle modification. Your right about dimishing returns, but it's like have a fixed up car: You never get the money back you put in, just the enjoyment of having a one off ride.
 

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Understood. I experience them itches myself sometimes...

P.
 

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Ryanpf-was that bushing upgrade to bearings a simple remove bushings and slid on a specific bearing?? I wish I had bearings in the front when the blower is on.
 

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Go to your local dealer and ask for 4 front wheel bearings from an X300, they will fit right in place, and you will never look back, its great, no more maintenance with the front wheels. :goodl:
 

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Ryanpf-was that bushing upgrade to bearings a simple remove bushings and slid on a specific bearing?? I wish I had bearings in the front when the blower is on.
Yes, push out the two bushings in each wheel and replace with two AM127304 ball bearings. They are normal ball bearings with a slight outer shoulder on one end to keep them from being pressed in too far. They were $7.09 each last August at the dealer. So, total of $28.36 plus tax and your time. It helps if you have a press but you can manage if you don't.

Since then I've seen similar units at the local Ace H/W, but they weren't up to the same quality.

Wally2q gets credit for posting the upgrade. I'm not sure if he was the originator or not.

Paul

Oh, be careful if you punch out the bushings with a drift or punch. The have two recesses along the outer diameter and if the drift gets stuck in there you can score the wheel. Don't ask me how I know....
 

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Awesome, thanks guys! Once I get the rear end back together, looks like I do some upgrading on the front end.
 

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The thing about the axle on the LA tractors is that it's cast iron... so welding it can be a bit tricky...

And as far as the T40/K46 transaxle, that applies to all lawn tractors with a hydrostatic setup... not just the Deere... it's just that people are used to being able to beat on a Deere and have it keep going with nary a complaint... and so get rather surprised when they actually do break it.


As far as modifications go, well... ya' all will have to see what I'm in the middle of doing on my LA130... basically, only the engine, seat, steering wheel, and sheet metal are being left stock... when I'm done I'll post a writeup on it, complete with photos...

:)
 

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Speaking of the thrust bearing mod, here's the pics I took last November when I had some spare time. This was on my L120 with 3/4" spindles. The first picture shows the 3/4" bearing and washers. Note the grease slots I filed into the top set of washers. Oh, I ordered the parts from McMaster-Carr and they were in my hands within 48 hours!


The next pic show the original clearance with the weight off the wheel. It may be a tight fit so I measured it and...



compared it with bearing set thickness. It's a tight fit but there's a few thou to spare. For older people (like me) that reads 0.142" total, without grease.

Dropped the spindle. Be careful and support the wheel assy. when you remove the C-clip. Remember, gravity...



Here the bearing is in position with the grease slots facing up toward the grease source.



After placing the bearing, it's an easy step to replace the spindle and secure the C-clip and washer. Hard part is getting the black plastic cap in place! Now, repeat it once again for the right side. In 30 minutes you'll have them both done.


For those that have never seen the axle fitting, here's a shot. I know, I should clean out the grass clippings, but that may be all that holding the axle together! Next time you're under your tractor, say hello to Mr. Zerk with a shot of grease. :)



That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

HTH,
Paul
 

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Go to your local dealer and ask for 4 front wheel bearings from an X300, they will fit right in place, and you will never look back, its great, no more maintenance with the front wheels. :goodl:
JD PART NUMBER AM127304
 

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ryanpf nice! Is there anyway you drop a dust shield over the bearing. I've seen
a rubber cup shaped shield with a hole in it that would fit on the beam ends but
I can't think of where I've seen them. I can see it in my head.
 

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ryanpf Did you notice a difference after pulling these on? , John
I think most of the improvement was in my mind! When the JB Jr is loaded, it's still heavy on the steering, but manageable.

It does feel like power steering when the deck and bucket are off, but it was pretty easy before the mod. It'll never be a X530 ;)

Paul
 

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ryanpf nice! Is there anyway you drop a dust shield over the bearing. I've seen
a rubber cup shaped shield with a hole in it that would fit on the beam ends but
I can't think of where I've seen them. I can see it in my head.
Haven't been able to figure that out. In the original article where they did the mod to a 1" spindle, they had the same problem. Someone mentioned "duck tape". I'm pretty sure it was in jest...

Paul
 
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