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Howdy. I just picked up a 520-H with 390 hours a few days ago, in overall good shape. Paid only $400 with a 48" deck, so I wasn't really picking it over before I bought.

The engine runs well, maybe a bit rougher and slower to start than my 416-H (also an Onan). But... I have almost no reverse. Most of the time I get absolutely nothing, but with some fiddling on the lever I can get very slow reverse. Forward seems fine.

Also, I have to admit that I did tow this tractor about 100' across my yard behind my 416 when I first brought it home (dirt/grass only, no pavement). I now know that was a bad idea. But, reverse was like this at the time I bought it, before I towed it. What damage happens from towing?

Thoughts on simple checks I can make? I see from these threads: http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?t=74765, http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?t=65883 that it may just be a linkage issue I can check/adjust. The seller said it worked last time He used it.

My 416 actually has a similar issue -- the tractor is a bit slower than I think it should be in reverse, and the drive lever will not stay engaged in reverse. It tends to creep back to center unless you hold onto it. Is that normal? It makes it a bit tough to back up with a trailer.
 

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If you know of a thread where this has been discussed before, a link would be great. I'm sure I'm not the first one asking this kind of question, but searching for it can be kind of tough.
 

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One possible simple fix is the linkage for the motion lever. Remove the black plate right in front of the seat (the horizontal one). Under it you will see a trunion where the motion lever connects to a lever going to the transaxle. Try rotating the trunion so that when you move the lever to reverse, it moves the motion plate on top of the tranny to full reverse (you can observe that by flipping up the seat and looking through the cut out in the seat pan. I once fooled with this trunion and lost about half of my reverse speed. It's a balancing act between forward and reverse, so if you over compensate, it will not go full speed in forward.

On the lever moving back to nuetral, tighten down the nut on the triangular plate on top of the tranny that the linkage connects to. The more you tighten it, the harder it becomes to move the motion lever, naturally. Again, a balancing act between to tight and too loose, so play with it until it feels comfortable.
 

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If neutral is in the right place, then I doubt it is a linkage issue. Top on the list of suspects is that the hydro is low on oil, the viscosity is degraded, and the hydro needs to be purged. I would replace the oil and purge.
 
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