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Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears.


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02-27-08, 04:33 PM   #1  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears.

I have a Craftsman 12 HP 38" lawn tractor, Model No. 917.255561.

The mower will not shift into or out of gear unless the tractor is level. It will not do so on even a slight incline.

Anybody know what is wrong?

 
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02-27-08, 11:56 PM   #2  
I would guess that since it won't go into any gear that the bolt that holds the shifter linkage to the shifter fork (on top of the tranny) has been lose for awhile and finely rounded out the square hole in the end of the linkage.- OR -the shifter keys inside the transaxle is badly worn.

 
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02-28-08, 01:02 AM   #3  
Does it matter if the engine is running or not?


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02-28-08, 04:54 AM   #4  
Posted By: reddingbob I have a Craftsman 12 HP 38" lawn tractor, Model No. 917.255561.

The mower will not shift into or out of gear unless the tractor is level. It will not do so on even a slight incline.

Anybody know what is wrong?
What Cheese and Repairguy are alluding to, is there something external to the transaxle that could be the problem?, i.e., is the gear shift lever firmly attached to shifter rod with no play, when engine is running with clutch fully depressed, does the drive belt seem to want to turn drive pulley, etc. have you recently installed a new drive belt??
Since it will shift on level ground, that suggests to me that the lubrication in the unit is starting to fail or the shifter keys have become worn.
Sears got lazy and didn't specifiy the exact model of transaxle but stated it was a std Dana 5-speed.
You can download a representative transaxle from:
http://www.m-and-d.com/dana_foote_parts.html
scroll down list and download either 4150-50 or 4360-61.

 
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02-28-08, 08:48 AM   #5  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears.

WOW! -- Nice to have some more experienced folks helping out, thanks!

In answer to your questions: Yes, I have recently replaced the main drive belt; did not have this problem before. I will say that the shifter did "stick" and reluctantly go into gear before I changed the belt, but only at times, not all the time.

Yes, I have the problem shifting on an incline whether the motor is running or not. On the level I do not have this problem, motor running or not.

Does this help refine the advice? Many thanks!

 
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02-28-08, 11:10 AM   #6  
Yep, this info pretty much explains it. I have a 1989 12/38 Murray and a 2005 15.5/42 Murray that does this and pretty much any riding mower manual shift transaxle of these designs will do this, just their personality. Hard to explain but the abridged version is that the shift keys are 'stuck' in the gear they've selected when the countershaft gear is putting tension/force on the driven selected gear. When you are on level ground this tension/force is relaxed and the shift action should be normal. On an incline this force will be present and make shift tad harder. The new belt is probably putting bit of an action on the drive pulley creating this same situation. The old belt had stretched some not causing this.
What I've learned to do is rock unit while sitting in seat and it will shift normally.

 
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02-28-08, 11:33 AM   #7  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears

Can Glen's theory be correct if I have the same trouble when the tractor is not running?

 
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02-28-08, 03:19 PM   #8  
I had the same type of problem with a Craftsman made by Murray. My problem is that it will not shift at all while the engine is running. Shifts fine with engine off. I just assumed that since the clutch pedal pull back spring was broken, leaving about 2 inches of play in the pedal, that was the problem. It was a friends machine and he said I can live with it, so I never fixed it.

 
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02-28-08, 04:25 PM   #9  
Posted By: reddingbob Can Glen's theory be correct if I have the same trouble when the tractor is not running?
Just to clarify your problem,

Are you saying that the shifter is hard to move into any gear with the engine running or even if it isn't running ?

Also, Was the new drive belt you installed a Sears original belt or a off the shelf 4L- *** aftermarket ?

 
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02-28-08, 08:11 PM   #10  
Generally, this problem is caused by the belt (usually the incorrect belt, or a twisted or mis-routed belt). This would not exhibit the problem with the engine off though...so if it makes no difference if the engine is running or not, then I would suspect internal wear, probably in the shift keys and the inside of the gears where the keys lock.

One question, does the mower ever keep trying to go a little even after you hit the clutch?


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03-05-08, 11:54 AM   #11  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears

Thanks to all who are trying to help me get this thing going!

I test drove this thing today, and yes--GlenM was right, if I rock back & forth, it will shift, even on an incline.

I had been test driving it with the brake linkage off the machine to make sure nothing there was causing our problem. Once I found out I could shift by merely rocking a bit, I put the brake linkage back on, and now it will not shift with the brake on, possibly because it won't "rock".

And, I also have a second issue: I see that the brake rod seems bowed. When pressure is put on the brake peddle, the brake arm not only moves back and forth, but the arm also bows out and bends. I think it is bent out of shape at this point, and Sears and any other online supplier I've been able to find do not carry this part any longer (part. no. 131867). Any suggestions here?

Thanks again for all your help, guys!

BOB

 
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03-05-08, 03:53 PM   #12  
Bob,

The rod is most likely bowing because the brake is out of adjustment. Straighten the rod out the best you can, Then move the two adjuster nuts on the rod toward the front on the machine unit you can push the pedal with just a slight bow in the rod. There should also be a adjuster on the caliper arm on the transaxle should you need to fine tune the brake.

This may help with the shift problem as well if the brake was being applied long before the belt was being disengaged to the transaxle.





Also, Just for giggles spay some penetrating oil around the shifter shaft where it enters the top of the transaxle and work it through the gears. I have had many units come in with hard shift complaints and thats all I did to fix them. If that isn't any problem just think of it as preventive maintenance.

 
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03-11-08, 10:54 AM   #13  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears

Someone asked earlier if I replaced the belt with a Sears belt. Does it make a difference? Could this be my problem.

Rather than waiting to order a Sears belt, I picked up a NAPA "Heavy Duty FHP" belt 4L890W. It is listed as a 1/2" x 89" belt. It seems to be the right size and to fit properly, but you'll know more about this than I do. Opinions?

I should also add that with the shift set to "neutral", engine running, and parking brake set the belt continues to rotate, although loosly.


Last edited by reddingbob; 03-11-08 at 11:39 AM.
 
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03-11-08, 05:04 PM   #14  
That was me asking about the belt, And yes that can make a difference. Most Sears drive belts are half sizes which you can't get in a standard off the shelf FHP belt, Also most Sears drive belts are what they call raw edge instead of wrapped like the typical FHP belts.

So, It looks like the belt you installed is a half inch too short and wrapped which both would cause the trans to spin even with the clutch/brake pedal applied and cause hard shifting.

 
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03-11-08, 07:22 PM   #15  
Thank you 31YTech!!! -- Now I have to do business with mail order SEARS! However, let me ask: is it normal for the belt to continue to spin when the parking brake has been engaged?

 
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03-11-08, 07:44 PM   #16  
Nope, It should stop completely.....Also make sure the front belt guides on the engine pulley are not bent out of shape, They help with the disengagement of the belt.

I have seen way too many units with them bent from the customers installing belts, It only takes a minute to loosen the screws holding them in place.

Good Luck....

 
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03-11-08, 09:09 PM   #17  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears.

Thanks! You have been very helpful! I'll let you know how it goes when I get the right belt.

BOB

 
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03-12-08, 12:00 AM   #18  
Sounds like it is the belt after all. let us know what you find.


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03-17-08, 12:41 PM   #19  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears.

Well, I went to Sears and got the right belt. Can't seem to get it on the machine! In what order is it best to thread the new belt? (Engine first? transaxel first?). Any other hints to make installation of the belt easier are also appreciated! Thanks!

 
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03-17-08, 12:52 PM   #20  
Locking the brake down should give a little extra play, I've had to partially drop the stack pulley on some. or put on stack pulley first, route belt, put in neutral and 'run it on' transaxle pulley.

 
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03-17-08, 03:19 PM   #21  
As Glen said put it on the stack pulley first but not in the top pulley yet, Let it lay on the top of the larger deck pulley this will give a little more slack.

Feed it on the trans pulley then go back and feed it on the top drive pulley, Install it on the clutch idler pulley last.

Also, Just a reminder to make sure all belt guides are properly in place when finished.

 
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03-17-08, 11:14 PM   #22  
Yep, 31YTech beat me to it again, lol!

Put the belt between the two pulleys on the engine, then run it to the tranny pulley. Then it goes toward the outside of the idler closest to the engine, then towards the inside of the second idler, and through a belt guide under the middle section of the frame. Make sure the belt is going through this belt guide, and not rubbing on it...and the same with the other belt guides.


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03-31-08, 04:55 PM   #23  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears.

We could title this one "WHY SEARS IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!".

I took the advice given here and went back to Sears and exchanged what was obviously the wrong belt for what they said was the right one (of course they said that the first time as well!). I could not get this second belt on either!

So I gave up and called the Sears repair service and told them the main drive belt was broken and the repairman should bring part # ....... -- He shows up without the part! He also says the store sold me the wrong belt.

So, I ordered the belt online to see what they would send me. Behold! Ten minutes after it arrives I have a working tractor that shifts on both level ground and on steep hills.

In summary: You guys are absolutely right--using Sears original equipment belts is important. Getting Sears to sell you the right one is not easy. Once installed, the tractor runs and shifts perfectly. Because I was using the wrong belts a 10-minute belt change took at least 3-4 hrs., struggling with the wrong part, even though the "wrong" belt Sears sold me was only 1 1/2 inches shorter than the "right" belt.

My thanks and admiration for the wisdom and generosity shown to me on this site. You guys are great!

 
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03-31-08, 07:44 PM   #24  
Good to hear you finally got it straightened out....


There is a lesson learned here;

If at all possible ALWAYS look your own parts up, Unless the part number is wrong on the site you have a better chance of getting the right part.


My brother called me long distance Sunday from Advance auto parts parking lot, The punk kids sold him the wrong part twice.

I was in front of my computer and jumped on their site, Looked up the part and gave him the number. He called back 10 mins. later thanking me....He was ready to um all.

 
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03-31-08, 11:22 PM   #25  
Glad to hear you got it going! Thanks for the update...and I agree...you'll have the best results looking up parts on your own in most cases...especially at chain stores.


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04-01-08, 06:08 AM   #26  
Lawn Tractor Won't shift gears.

The really sad thing about all this is that each time I went to the Sears store I went with the specific part number that I had looked up! The first time they sold me a belt that I questioned because it had emblazoned on it a different part number. The second time they claimed to have looked it up in their computer, and said the computer told them the "part number had changed." -- This second belt was so tight that after getting it on I couldn't get it off. So I cut it off. I intend to return it anyway. It seems as if the mail order is better than the in person service, at least locally. Thanks for all your help!

 
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04-21-08, 07:56 PM   #27  
New Problem

Thanks to the help on this site I now have a functioning tractor--but I have a new problem. When I remounted the mower deck on the tractor, I now have the left Mandrel Pulley rubbing against one of the silver lift links. It of course makes a terrible noise when the mower is engaged. I'm feeling this is a simple matter of adjustment, but I can't figure out what to adjust. As always, your help is very much appreciated! Thanks!

ReddingBob

 
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04-21-08, 10:12 PM   #28  
Something is assembled/installed wrong, or broken. There isn't an adjustment for that. I'd suspect the lift arm is on the wrong side of a bracket or something to that effect.


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04-23-08, 02:00 PM   #29  
Problem Fixed!

Thank you once again, Cheese! Looking more carefully at the diagram in the manual gave witness to an improperly installed lift arm. Thank you!

Bob

 
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04-23-08, 10:55 PM   #30  
No problem, glad to help! Thanks for the update!


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09-02-08, 01:52 PM   #31  
You guys are great! This thread has just saved me so much hassle that I have to thank you all. I've got the same mower and was just looking to get an aftermaket belt size for, which I now know is a bad idea. Also, ever since I purchased it (used) one of the lift arms has been grinding lightly whenever I turn sharply. I guess I'll now be checking to see if it's mounted incorrectly...thanks again. Unfortunately, I don't have any type of manual for it so it's just been trial and error since I got it. Thanks to you all for a little insight!

 
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09-02-08, 10:07 PM   #32  
Great! Glad you found some useful info here, and thanks for the kudos. There are some great folks here who help keep this site the place to be.

If you run into trouble, you know where to find us .


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