Sears Craftsman 42" Mower Lawn Tractor Steering Problem

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  #1  
Old 10-02-08, 05:58 AM
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Sears Craftsman 42" Mower Lawn Tractor Steering Problem

I have an 8 year old Craftsman Lawn Tractor model 917.271142.

I'm having a problem with the steeering wheel. There is at least 5" of give when turning the wheel in any direction before the wheels begin to turn. It's been progressively getting worse (with more and more give).

Is this a common problem? Any ideas of what to look at/inspect?
 
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  #2  
Old 10-02-08, 07:07 AM
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Download the manual linked below. Section 7 details steering problems. Inspect the segment gear and gear on the steering shaft for damage. Often shim washer kit PN 159258 is all that is needed.

http://www.gardening-tools-direct.co...5321635-78.pdf
 
  #3  
Old 10-02-08, 09:51 AM
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Thank you very much!

This sure sounds like the problem I'm having.

I'll give it a go this weekend
 
  #4  
Old 10-03-08, 12:03 AM
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Take a look here: http://www.searspartsdirect.com/part...Description=ST

Generally you will be ok replacing part # 19 and 66 only. This should be around $10 - $15 total. Occasionally #17 and 27 have to be replaced, but usually when they need to be replaced, it is because someone waited too long to fix it and the gears began to jump. In your case, it just sounds like you need 19 and 66. They are probably available at your local lawnmower repair shop.
 
  #5  
Old 10-03-08, 03:51 AM
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Thank you.

Are you saying that the original solution to add more washers suggetsed by Airman is NOT my problem?

BTW: I looked closer on Page 83 and 84 of the manual (http://www.gardening-tools-direct.co...5321635-78.pdf) and my mower is a 1999 model which does not have the "klip ring" (p/n 74950612) in Figure 2, there is actually a bolt as shown on page 84 in the 199 Steering Assembly figure.
 
  #6  
Old 10-03-08, 07:51 AM
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Sorry, I steered you wrong in my post. I for some reason thought you had the pre 1999 steering. Cheese is giving you correct information.

Inspect all components closely to determine what is damaged or worn. I have seen Index number 41 “steering wheel adapter” worn to the point where the steering wheel would turn with no movement to steering gear.
 
  #7  
Old 10-07-08, 03:53 AM
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I finaly had a chance to look at the steering mechanism.

Both 17 and 27 seem to be OK and have all of their teeth.

When I move the sterring wheel, the shaft (#17) and the support shaft (#19) seem to have some give, i.e., they both rock and back and forth slightly causing the steering wheel to have the play I mentioned before - is this normal? I think not, they would have to be super tight to each other to not have this problem. So the question is, what makes them tight to each other?

Could it be the the support shaft (#19) that's problematic here? If I simply replace 19 wouldn't the same thing happen again?

There is also a screw #22 which goes on the bottom of 19. I'm not sure what exactly it tightens, but could that be loose?

In between 17 and 19, there is also a washer, could that be the problem?
 
  #8  
Old 10-07-08, 05:47 AM
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The screw (# 22) in the bottom keeps the steering shaft from pulling out, and if the screw is loose the shaft can ride up slightly and cause the gears to "jump". The washer is basically a thrust washer to keep the turning shaft from wearing down the support shaft which is a composite material. If you replace #19 without #66, then yes it could happen again.

I would recommend following what cheese suggested (replacing # 19 & # 66), since you indicated that the gears still look good. I just did this exact repair on a rider for a customer, just a few weeks ago.
 
  #9  
Old 10-08-08, 02:05 AM
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This is a run-of-the-mill job at my shop. We do this particular steering repair frequently. I say this so you realize I am not a stranger to the problem you have and take confidence in my advice. As I mentioned, as long as the gears are ok, then #19 and 66 will fix the problem. The support wears out and moves like you described. It's just normal wear and a new one will be tight again. Generally this wear is accelerated by running with low front tires (require more effort to turn, which translates into stress and friction on the bearing surfaces in the shaft support). Keep the front tires at 15 psi and grease the front axle fittings to avoid having this problem again in the future.
 
  #10  
Old 10-08-08, 05:32 AM
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Thank you!

I have ordered the parts (19 and 66) and will hopefully get to it this weekend.
 
  #11  
Old 10-14-08, 04:38 AM
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1 sore back and 3 hours of work and the problem is fixed.

I had to take out the mower deck to get to the 4 bolts that were holding the steering bracket. It was a pain! (please don't tell me that there was a way to do this without taking either one out )

19 definitely had a oval shape openning (rather than the round one as in the new one). 66 seemed fine, but I replaced it anyway.

The thing faught me every-step though!

Thanks very much to everyone that helped!
 
  #12  
Old 10-14-08, 11:28 PM
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Great, glad you got it. I don't take the deck off, but I've done so many that my familiarity with it allows me to just work under there by feel. The drag link is usually the most aggravating part to get off to me (locknut in an awkward position that seems to take forever to get off). You definitely have to remove the whole bracket though to do the job.

#66 isn't always bad, but it's cheap enough insurance to just put a new one back in place of the old.
 
  #13  
Old 10-15-08, 09:28 AM
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Yeah, the drag link was hard to get off with the deck on, but without the deck it was much easier to tighten.

I mowed last night and what a difference - it was like having a brand new mower!
 
  #14  
Old 08-30-09, 09:43 PM
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Steering Play 42" Craftsman

The problem described is similar to my experience. I just bought a used 19.5hp 42" Craftsman, probably around 1999 model. Great machine, EXCEPT, the play in the steering wears me out after mowing my acre and half with numerous obstacles.

My mower is model number 917.270921. Will the parts replacements described by cheese be the same on the parts list in the manual for my machine.

Your replies will be appreciated.
 
  #15  
Old 08-30-09, 11:20 PM
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Look here:
CRAFTSMAN | Model #917270921 | CRAFTSMAN 19.5HP AUTOMATIC LAWN MOWER | STEERING ASSEMBLY | SearsPartsDirect.com

You will likely need parts 66 and 19, probably also 27 and possibly number 17.
 
  #16  
Old 08-31-09, 07:01 PM
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Hey cheese,
Thanks for the super fast response.
Parts 19 and 66 are less than 12 bucks, 17 and 27 about $70.

I don't mind throwing $12 at it to take a shot, but I really want to know if I need to spend $70 before I order the stuff.

If it were yours, would you open it up and look before you ordered the parts?

Again thanks for the quick reply. David
 
  #17  
Old 08-31-09, 09:48 PM
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Take a look at the gears. You can see them without taking anything apart. If the sector gear teeth have no flats on the ends and are worn sharp, it needs replacement. You can compare the column shaft gear from the spots that contact the sector gear to the spots that don't, and get a good idea how much wear is on it. If it is worn considerably, replace it. If you haven't had the gears stripping yet, the shaft gear is probably still good. The sector gear is usually worn enough to replace when I work on these.
 
  #18  
Old 09-06-09, 10:44 PM
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Hey cheese,
Just wanted to let you know that I replaced the shaft support (#19, $6 at my local mower shop) yesterday and I think that fixed the play. I haven't test driven it yet, cause I took out the deck to have as much work space as possible and decided to replace the blades this week. The shaft opening was definitely ovaled out.
The gears show some early signs of wear, but I'm leaving them for now.
One problem is that I forgot to check steering wheel alignment and now it's not neutral with the wheels straight. I'm wondering if I can fix that from the top. My wheel doesn't match the one in the parts list.
Thanks again for sharing your experience with me.
David
 
  #19  
Old 09-07-09, 12:20 AM
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You can align the steering wheel from the top.
 
  #20  
Old 09-09-09, 06:18 PM
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Hello all, hope you can help me out on this one:
I have a 917.270532, and I had the same problem as mentioned below with the excessive play in steering. I ordered#160395 support shaft, and it seems to have fixed the problem, but I have a problem with the steering gears. I removed it without noting it's position. Could someone please tell me how it should be aligned? looks like it was originally positioned with the downward arm for the drag link centered on the gear, but when i installed it, it looks like there may need to be a little offset...
thanks for any help you can provide!!!!
 
  #21  
Old 09-09-09, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by respondback View Post
I have an 8 year old Craftsman Lawn Tractor model 917.271142.

I'm having a problem with the steeering wheel. There is at least 5" of give when turning the wheel in any direction before the wheels begin to turn. It's been progressively getting worse (with more and more give).

Is this a common problem? Any ideas of what to look at/inspect?
Great little topic.
And Nice work--thank you for sharing- for me this makes perfect sense though.
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  #22  
Old 09-09-09, 07:50 PM
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Dambrino,

Look closely at the sector gear. There is a line cast into it near the hole where the shaft goes through it. Then, look closely at the shaft with a light. There are 2 splines that are not fully splined all the way to the end. The 2 splines are solid right at the end that first goes through the sector gear. You can see the wider slot in the sector gear made to accept this wider spot where the line is cast into it. These go together to time the gears properly.
 
  #23  
Old 09-11-09, 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by cheese View Post
Dambrino,

Look closely at the sector gear. There is a line cast into it near the hole where the shaft goes through it. Then, look closely at the shaft with a light. There are 2 splines that are not fully splined all the way to the end. The 2 splines are solid right at the end that first goes through the sector gear. You can see the wider slot in the sector gear made to accept this wider spot where the line is cast into it. These go together to time the gears properly.
I'll give it a look this afternoon. When you say "sector gear" you are talking about the fan shaped gear right?
Thanks for the help!!!Beer 4U2
 
  #24  
Old 09-11-09, 10:17 PM
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Yep. The fan shaped one.
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  #25  
Old 09-12-09, 06:32 AM
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Cheese, Thanks for the help. Thats ecacly what i was lookling for. It's all back together and working fine. Now that means i have to put it to good ude and cut the grass!!!!!
Thanks again!Beer 4U2
 
  #26  
Old 09-12-09, 08:01 PM
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Glad I could help and thanks for the update!
 
  #27  
Old 07-30-10, 08:48 AM
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Hi cheese,
I have the same problem too and was looking at the parts in this thread and found the part 19, but didnt find the other part for my mower. I have model 917.252580. Any ideas what to buy?
 
  #28  
Old 07-30-10, 09:41 PM
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Number 19 and 27 are probably your most worn parts I'd think. 24 is also most likely worn.
 
  #29  
Old 07-31-10, 10:25 AM
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Thanks, ordered the parts. Any tips on what needs to be removed in order to get to the parts and make the repair?
thanks
Scott
 
  #30  
Old 08-01-10, 01:09 PM
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The diagram won't come up on the sears site today, but the bracket that holds the steering assembly in place has to come loose, the clip comes off the end of the steering sector shaft, the sector slides off the shaft and the nyliner goes into a hole where the shaft goes. The sector is splined a certain way so that it only goes back on in one position. The bushing at the end of the column shaft is probably where the most wear is and the shaft is probably held to it with either a clip or bolt.
 
  #31  
Old 08-12-10, 12:33 PM
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Yeah it looks like the Nyliner was totally shot.


I wasn't able to remove the steering shaft from the bushing yet though, it took me a while to even figure out that there was a bolt or something holding it to the shaft. I was trying to pry the bushing down not knowing there was a bolt holding it on. I gave up for now, wanted to come back in and re-read the pose here and tackle it another day. Hopefully a socket will fit inside that bushing to get it unbolted. I was able to get my cell phone to take an underside pic of the bushing but couldnt get a good enough angle to see the shape of the bolt.
 
  #32  
Old 08-12-10, 09:46 PM
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I just did this steering repair on my mower. I had to take the entire assembly apart. The end of my shaft used an allen head wrench. It was very difficult to not strip out. I had to disassemble it after I had taken everything out of the mower.

Brandon
 
  #33  
Old 02-19-11, 02:26 PM
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I finally attempted this repair again after not being able to get that allen head bolt off the end of the steering shaft last Fall. This time I decided to use a Vice grip, and that didnt look too promising either, it would turn and slide off the bolt head, but I finally got it on tight enough that the bolt headcouldnt escape, and I got it off.
I installed a new nyliner, new bushing, and new sector gear. Steering seems nice and tight now, but I am seeing the gears skip when it is under pressure. What could I have done wrong?
My next step will be to once AGAIN take the battery tray out and turn it manually and watch what happens. If its skipping, its either riding up and losing grip on the teerh, or the sector gear is moving escaping left-right. I sure hope these replacement parts are not causing this.
 
  #34  
Old 02-19-11, 07:57 PM
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You didn't replace the shaft support? This is the most important part of the repair.
 
  #35  
Old 02-20-11, 12:36 PM
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You mean the black plastic T shaped thing that the steering shaft gets bolted into? Yes I did. Perhaps I incorrectly called it a bushing.
 
  #36  
Old 02-20-11, 03:42 PM
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Yes, the "T" shaped thing. Ok, if it's still skipping, and you have a new nyliner, shaft support, and sector gear, then possibly there aren't enough shim washers to take up the slack in the assembly (where the clip goes onto the shaft) .
 
  #37  
Old 02-27-11, 04:48 AM
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When I put everything back together, I put the shim on the outside of the steering bracket. Should it have gone inside?
 

Last edited by Amopower; 02-27-11 at 05:09 AM.
  #38  
Old 02-27-11, 12:25 PM
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Yes, it should be on the outside. Sometimes more than one needs to be installed to take up the slack. Is there any side-to-side movement of the shaft support when you put pressure on it back and forth?
 
  #39  
Old 02-27-11, 12:30 PM
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I went to look today and see why it was slipping, the shaft support made its way out of the steering bracket hole. I couldnt seem to get both the "e-clip" and the thrust washer on there at the same time, so I just have the e-clip now. So far so good, but I'm not sure why I cant get both on. Do you have to put a C-clamp on the Pittman arm and steering bracket to push it all the way over, then drop the washer and e-clip on?
Side question - is there a grass catcher suitable for this mower? 917.252580
 

Last edited by Amopower; 02-27-11 at 01:29 PM.
  #40  
Old 02-27-11, 07:06 PM
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If there was enough room for the shaft support to come out, there is definitely some slack. Is the clip on the shaft holding the sector gear tight to the shaft support? It can be tough sometimes to get the clip on the end with the washer too, but I never had to use a clamp.
 
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