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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all...

I have a Craftsman YT4000 that I love. I use it not just for mowing, but for a lot of utility around the yard.

There is one very frustrating thing about it though, I could never get it to cut evenly. The deck has two blades. I would expect that if they were not level, the outer part of one of the blades would cut closer to the ground, but in my case the inner part is getting the close shave.

Here is a photo of what I mean:

Uneven Cut Photo

If you look at last cut row on the left, I was coming in the direction of the camera. It appears that the blade on the port side of the tractor (right) is somehow cutting lower on the inner side. I marked this with #1. This is especially bad on turns. If you look at #2, I am going in the opposite direction, away from the camera, so it is cut lower on the left.

I tried to measure the distance from the blade to the ground as suggested in the manual. I tried adjusting the deck up and down with the adjuster on the port side. I can't get rid of this.

Any suggestions?
 

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Get a measuring tool and put the blades tip to tip and measure from ground to all ends of the blades. should be the same measuremnts. If not, bent mandrel/blade/deck mounting point.
You can get one at a JD store cheaply.
measure.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks a lot for the reply. I have some questions.

What is this measuring tool called? I am hoping to buy one online as I don't have a John Deere store anywhere near me.

I changed the blades, so that is not it. The mandrel is what the blade attaches to? If that is bent I expect I will be replacing the whole deck right? I guess I should replace the rods that mount the deck first and then see if that helps.

Is that what my plan of action should be?

Thanks again
 

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I can't see picture here at work, but I am having same problem on both a craftsman and an MTD. I am getting a cut line in the middle of the path, not the outer or a butch line over entire blade width. I would figure it bent blade, then it would be a full blade width path on that side cutting low. The craftsman actually has new blades on it. I believe both are due for new spindles, I think the are getting worn and due to belt pressure or whatever is causing spindle to get cockeyed and tipping the blade down toward the middle. The spindle assembly usually just bolts in, should be available through sears or I get mine through evilbay. Could be a bent deck where the spindle bolts in, but it would have to have a lot of wear, rust or be cracked in my opinion.

If ya figure it out, make sure to post results.
 

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I vote either one set of bad spindle bearings, causing one blade to tilt slightly, or a bent blade on the shorter-cutting side. Remember, if you're measuring blade height, make two measurements, one with the mower is engaged and one disengaged. That way the belt tension will be against the spindle pulleys and identify whether you have a bad bearing(s), causing one or both sides to tilt when engaged.

NOTE It goes without saying; but please make sure whenever working under the mower, that you disconnect the sparkplug wire(s) from the sparkplug(s).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, I ordered the leveling gauge. That will come in very handy. Trying to figure this out with a tape measure is close to impossible.

As to my problem, it sounds like spindle is something I should check. I am not clear on which part that is though. There is the mandrel, which is attached to the belt on top by the mandrel pulley. Is the spindle the disk that is at the bottom of the mandrel that the blades attach to?

Thanks again.
 

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To check for bent blades, measure from one tip to ground, rotate 180, and check the other end. Both measurements should be the same. To verify that a spindle is not bent, the measurement at the inner / outer, or front / back should be the same for both tips. In other words, if the spindle is bent, the measurement for blade tips would differ. So, first check both tips including a half-revolution, then check both blades @front & rear. Same-same == good spindle & blades.
The words mandrel and spindle seem to be interchangeable. The blade mounts on one end of the mandrel, the pulley to the other. The mandrel/spindle spins in two ball bearings {mostly} mounted to the top and bottom of the mandrel housing, which is bolted to the deck.
If you are getting 'short' cuts in the middle of your mowing path {I did not look}, then the spindles/mandrels are tilted in towards each other at the top, or the bottoms tilted outwards, your pick in terminology. They must not be parallel, or the blades would spin true and cut evenly in relation to the deck.
May be a difficult task, but measure between the centers of the spindles at the top, and then under the deck. The measurement should be exactly the same. If not, the spindles are not parallel. Why? DUnno...
FWIW, All parts internal to the spindle housing are replaceable. You can get new spindles, new bearings, top and bottom fasteners, and leave the housings alone. You can also get 'loaded' housings, complete with all fasteners, which are just bolted to the deck, the blade and pulley installed, and off you go. It pays to investigate other sources than the manufacturer web site. Sometimes local sources may be cost effective. YMMV
tom
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.

Do you know if parts lists for these Craftsman tractors exist? Its not in the manual. Without a parts list, it will be really hard to source the spindle.

Thanks again.

UPDATE: I was able to find the parts list on the Sears Parts Direct site. (thanks)
 

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If it's an AYP built tractor (917 model prefix) then it's probably a broken mandrel housing. They had a very open base so air could flow through, it was a great concept but ignored the reality of rocks, sticks, and kid's toys.
Pull the deck out from under the mower, grab the right side pulley and give it a shake, I bet it'll move quite a bit.
 

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Tin,
Check other suppliers before you place your order. Some suppliers help support the site, and they are worth investigating, along with others. You might {will.} be pleasantly surprised. SPDirect is fair, but a little high on some stuff. You can get two loaded spindles and housings for ~$45 if you shop around. Stens, I believe, is the aftermarket supplier. I was pleasantly surprised at the parts that showed up. The deck mounting holes were also pre-tapped, which is something the OEM does not do. FWIW.
tom
 

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I replaced one last year on dad's craftsman, bought a complete loaded spindle/mandrel for like $25 shipped to the door. It was aftermarket, probably made in Chinan, but I was after the cheap. There are tons on ebay for decent price. Looks for Sears or AYP spindles.
The factory ones are bolts through the deck and into the tapped spindle housing....I broke all three when I removed them. The new spindle came with either pre-tapped holes or just bolts with self locking nuts. Easier putting new one in than taking old one out. All the bearing fell out of the old one, worn out to say the least.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you everybody for all the suggestions. I would not know where to start without you all.

The verdict is a broken mandrel housing.

Broken housing photo

I got a new one on Amazon just because I am a prime member and I could easily return it if I needed to.

I replaced it and plan to mow tomorrow, but this has to be it.

Thanks again! I really appreciate it!.
 

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The Tin Ram.
Let us know if this fixed your problem. My LT2000 has an almost identical cut pattern as yours did. I've gone through the steps and will check the madrels next.
 

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That housing broke will sure make it cut uneven!:fing32:
broken_housing.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The Tin Ram.
Let us know if this fixed your problem. My LT2000 has an almost identical cut pattern as yours did. I've gone through the steps and will check the madrels next.
It absolutely did. After replacing the housing the cut is now even. The old housing was cracked in two places. No wonder I had problems. And replacing it was fairly easy. I didn't even take off the deck.

I also used the measuring tool recommended by SonnyT to make the deck leveling job much easier.
 

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It absolutely did. After replacing the housing the cut is now even. The old housing was cracked in two places. No wonder I had problems. And replacing it was fairly easy. I didn't even take off the deck.

I also used the measuring tool recommended by SonnyT to make the deck leveling job much easier.
TinRAM....Could you tell the madrel was cracked with it still attached to the deck? Or did you have to take it off to to see it was cracked? Ive tried shaking the one I suspect of being broken and it seems pretty sturdy.
 

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TinRAM....Could you tell the madrel was cracked with it still attached to the deck? Or did you have to take it off to to see it was cracked? Ive tried shaking the one I suspect of being broken and it seems pretty sturdy.
I could not tell it was cracked until I started unscrewing it. I tried shaking or moving it when everything was still attached but could not detect any movement. I was probably looking for more movement than it gives. It likely moves very little, but is enough to cause the uneven cut.
 

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I could not tell it was cracked until I started unscrewing it. I tried shaking or moving it when everything was still attached but could not detect any movement. I was probably looking for more movement than it gives. It likely moves very little, but is enough to cause the uneven cut.
Awesome news. I'll order one and replace it, hopefully that will solve my problem. Thanks for the help, and the the great pics!
 
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