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#489684 - 08/19/06 06:21 AM Variable speed pulley on old MTD lawn tractor- any experts?
UncleS2 Offline


Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 3055
Loc: Far North East Texas
MTD Variable Speed Pulley system- should the top part of the pulley turn freely?

The old riding mower quit moving the other day, though the engine & blades were doing fine. Today I finally got into it, & removed the two transmission drive belts. The rear belt was the problem, it goes from the variable speed pulley to a big pulley on the rear axle drive unit. Since the front belt(from engine pulley to var speed pulley assembly) was so old, requires removing the rear belt, and was all cracked on the inside edge, I decided to replace it too. Almost $40 for the pair of belts at Lowe's. [Razz]

The owners manual leaves out several necessary steps, so it took me quite a while to get both belts off. [Embarrassed] In the process, I noticed that the top part of the variable speed pulley will not turn, at least not by my hand. The bottom part turns freely.

Is this normal, or should I get & install a new variable speed pulley assembly before buttoning the old machine back up? Any help appreciated.

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#489685 - 08/21/06 08:32 AM Re: Variable speed pulley on old MTD lawn tractor- any experts?
UncleS2 Offline


Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 3055
Loc: Far North East Texas
Update- no, the upper pulley is *not* supposed to be locked tight. [Frown] Didn't see how it could work that way, but still wanted to ask before I spent $70 for a new one. It's toast, gotta get a new one from the local mower guy tomorrow. [Cheers!]

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#489686 - 08/23/06 09:19 AM Re: Variable speed pulley on old MTD lawn tractor- any experts?
JTK Offline


Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 7314
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Yeah, I hate the MTD transmatic system. I had one. The center bushing/bearing is what seizes up on the variator pulley. The top and bottom sheave are fixed and the center sheave is what needs to slide up and down freely to get full range of ground speed. If you've lost full range of speed, the center sheave is not moving and the bushing is shot. You can replace the whole variator pulley or a bushing kit is avail from what I understand. The other important thing is belt size. You need the exact OEM size belts for the primary and secondary belts or the system wont work. I got so frustrated with my 'transmatic' MTD that I unloaded it after a few seasons. That transaxle setup has been around for nearly 20yrs.

Joel

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#489687 - 08/22/06 11:02 PM Re: Variable speed pulley on old MTD lawn tractor- any experts?
UncleS2 Offline


Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 3055
Loc: Far North East Texas
Yup, the center "half-pulley) still slid up & down OK, but the bottom needle bearings were shot(some missing), & the top ones felt rough & gritty when turned. I bought the pulley & needle bearings as a unit- $$$, ouch.

Lowe's had the exact size MTD belts for it. I just hope to get a couple more years out of the thing.

Yeah, "TransMatic" indeed. [Roll Eyes] When I had a local guy get it going a few years ago & asked him about any good "sleepers" in used mowers, he had two pieces of advice, #1 I already knew.

For used riding mowers:
1. No Murrays(this aplies to new ones too! [Big Grin] )
2. No variable-diameter pulleys. [Wink]

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#489688 - 08/23/06 03:04 AM Re: Variable speed pulley on old MTD lawn tractor- any experts?
JTK Offline


Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 7314
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Heheee.. since murray went belly-up awhile ago, the current murray labeled machines are actually rebadged MTD's or AYP's (dont recal which one). The light-duty sealed hydro-gear brand hydrostatic transaxles in the low end MTD's are a knotch above of the transmatic, but not too much better. IMO, you are better of with gear drive on a cheaper machine. The tuff-torq hydros used on the cheap JD riders (all JD LT's and GT's for that matter) seem to fare much better.

Joel

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#489689 - 08/23/06 06:29 AM Re: Variable speed pulley on old MTD lawn tractor- any experts?
Brett Miller Offline


Registered: 09/09/03
Posts: 2636
Loc: Arizona
Did you change it yet? I've changed a few of those and they are a major pain in the rump roast!

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#489690 - 08/23/06 08:21 AM Re: Variable speed pulley on old MTD lawn tractor- any experts?
UncleS2 Offline


Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 3055
Loc: Far North East Texas
Yup, I put it *all* back together today- with only one mistake! [Duh!] [Embarrassed] Found that & fixed it(had the motion drive belt *outside* one of the keeper "fingers" on that cross-member that goes half-around the engine drive pulley), and then *presto*, it all worked well enough. Whew! I was afraid a long adjustment session was gonna be needed.

I agree, it's a major pain in the ***. Once I got it all going, it was almost 6:00, but still managed to mow almost all the front yard before it got too dark. Some of the Bahia grass on the hillside had just about gotten too tall & green to cut! [Mad]

JTK- John Deere, huh? That's good to hear, I was really lusting after a new John Deere (115? 125? lowest priced model with real auto trans & hour meter on it [Big Grin] ) earlier this summer- but since I just spent a bit over $100 on the old wreck, I gotta get the rest of this summer out of it, plus leaf duty this fall & winter, plus next summer if possible.

[ August 23, 2006, 11:33 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Hughes ]

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