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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
Read a bunch on this thread, but looking for suggestions. Have a 1996 I bought new. Might have changed the motor oil 5 times at most. Never had 1 problem till this year. Started fading on hills and eventually stopped going up. Could smell rubber, and felt like slipping. Very noisy.

Added new primary belt. Still slipped. Filled nearly to the top with SAE 20W50 as someone said. Very quiet, and improved "slightly" on the hill but after hot, creeps along. Should I pop the tranny, drain the oil and add fresh? Pop the tranny and get a new one? If I replace the old oil with new, should I add a drain plug like others mention? I still see blackish oil in with the new. I got in about 1/2 quart. I'm thinking if it improved slightly, and got quiet, maybe it really is the oil? I'm handy and don't mind tearing it apart. But with summer at it's peak, don't want to tear it down, drain it, find out it doesn't help, tear it apart again, and put a new one in. I really think it's worth working on even if I end up with a new tranny since it has run flawless for 13 years, and I know what I have.

Thanks in advance.
Paul in Md.
 

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I drained the Hydrostatic tranny oil on mine today. The way I did is to remove the bottom center plate where the brake and neutral lever are. Two screws are all that hole mine down and removing the brake knob. Now look on the left side and see if you see a 1/2 size hose with a plastic stopper in it. Mine was held to the body with a tie-rap. If you have the hose you're in business. Remove the battery and the battery box. Under the battery box you will see the hose where it connects to the tranny. Remove the hose. Drain the gas from your gas tank.... So you don't have to turn your mower over twice like I did. Now comes the hard part you have to lift the front end of the mower so it is standing straight up. Next using a piece of 2X4 for a brace let the mower tilt back more being held up by the 2X4 being wedged against the mower and something like a tree or wall that won't move. You should see the old oil pouring out of the plastic hose nipple that is on the tranny. LET IT DRAIN. I let mine sit like that for about 2 hours. It was messy but I believe I got out most of the old oil. Now you put your mower back on it's wheels and using a transmission funnel you fill it with 2 quarts of 20W-50. Re-assemble everything and you should be good to go. Mine is working fine. KNOCKING ON WOOD.

Good Luck,
Tony
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Tony

That's were I'm at with this debating how and what to do next. I had already taken the black hose off with the air cap, so I could add fluid. I attached a clear hose so I could see the oil. Stuck a wooden skewer stick in the hole to get the level. Used the hose (had to squeeze it due to air lock) for the oil to go in. Gave up on that, took an old oil can with a thin pointed end, filled it, and pumped it in.

When you mention the bottom plate, I assume you mean the plate between your legs where the brake lock knob, and the neutral knob come up from where the primary pulley is? If so, that makes sense since it gives you access to the hose on the tranny.

Didn't you get some sort of air lock while it was draining? Wonder why the heck they didn't install a drain plug unless they want you to buy a new tranny? So did you have the exact problem I did where it ran fine on flat, but creeped up the hill? And now it pulls the hill? If so, maybe the dirty oil wasn't allowing the tranny parts to move fluid correctly? Wish I knew more about how they work.

I like the idea (better than taking out the tranny) about tilting it upright. I actually tilted it sideways to take the motor bolts out so I could put the primary belt on. Another plus would be to take some pics. I have off for a week starting this Friday, so I might tackle it, and take plenty of pics. Thanks for the pointers.
 

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I wish I had thought to take pictures when I was working on mine. Yes you are correct about the plate between your feet. If I got air bubbles they haven't caused any problem yet. I put a full two quarts of 20W / 50 oil in mine after I drained it out. I don't have to mow any up hills. What was happening to mine is after about 30 minutes of mowing it kept getting slower and also reverse stopped working. After I would let it cool down it worked normally again until it heated back up. I could never get more than 30 minutes of mowing without having to shut it off and let it cool down. I checked and my fan is working fine so it must be the oil is old and not working when it gets hot.

Tony
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That makes sense then that there must be some relationship between oil flow, and whether it's dirty. I'm thinking maybe the old oil affects the viscosity, which in turn affects the pressure maybe? The symptoms sound identical with the heat causing it to slow down. I'll take pics when I do mine, in hopes of helping others. Tried to pick the front end up tonight, and that bugger is heavy. And I aint no sissy. Guess I'll have to eat a big breakfast that day.

So how would you rate the color of the oil? Mine was pretty thin, and the color of coal. Sorta grayish, unlike the dark color of car oil.
 

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Picking up the front end is not easy. I wore work gloves so I wouldn't cut my hands on the front axle. I start off by jacking it up about 18" with my floor jack. Then I can get under it better to push it up. Block the back wheels or it will roll away from you. Have something handy to prop it up when you get it past the horizontal position. My oil wasn't thin but it had a milky look to it and was dark brown. It wasn't like it was burnt crankcase oil. I guess it was just worn out from being used so much. I can't believe that MTD didn't put a drain plug in the tranny. I'm so sorry that I didn't think to take photos of mine while I was working on it. In the future I will remember to take pictures.

Tony
 

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Paul thanks for the photos in your recent post. I made a reply there.

Tony
 
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