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MTD snowblower transmission/axle jammed


archibaldtuttle's Avatar
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04-20-09, 01:56 PM   #1  
MTD snowblower transmission/axle jammed

Just went to put away a
31AS6FEE729 MTD snowblower.

Homedepot special. I think it is supposedly 11 horse may 8 sorry can't remember and now it's 30 miles away.

So it won't roll or drive. Was working fine for last storm of the season. So I'm assuming something rusted or jammed while it sat.

Took off the belly pan and the friction disc seems to correctly engage friction wheel, but it just slips. and I'm sure the axle is jammed. I just can't figure out where it is locked up.

The hex shaft of the 'transmission' seems free enough in its mount when I turn it the few degrees it will move due to the looseness of the gear mesh. So it appears the problem is the main axle, but I tried a pipe wrench without excessive force and it just will not move. I didn't want to bend it so I didn't go nuts.

The parts diagram seems to show bearings on the transmission hex shaft and bushings on the axle. Don't know if the axle bushings could just have locked up. They are hex on the outside according to the diagram so they wouldn't just spin out.

Anyone had any experience with this design or any hints about what trouble I'll have getting it apart.

Thanks,

Brian

 
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indypower's Avatar
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04-20-09, 03:58 PM   #2  
First of all, it wont rust enough to jam anything in 2 months.
How are you trying to move it? I have seen so many people hold down the lever with the engine not running and try to push it. That ain't gonna happen. Leave the levers up if you want to push it.
Axle bushings could be worn, but usually not enough to lock up the axle.

 
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04-20-09, 08:08 PM   #3  
I think MTD had some issues with gears or something rusting & getting stuck. In fact they may have had a ""fix as required"" bulletin out on this issue. If you search this site, I know Puey67 has posted about this, or just for goofs, call the local dealer & ask about a snowblower with wheels that won't turn.. Hope this helps,, Roger

 
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04-20-09, 10:05 PM   #4  
Service

Look here:

http://forum.doityourself.com/outdoo...ml#post1224197

AJ

 
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04-21-09, 02:25 PM   #5  
That post I made back in '07 still is valid...per MTD. However, since that post date we have serviced hundreds of these machines that have, according to MTD, been rectified with improved needle bearings that are now sealed. I'm here to tell you that they have not cured the problem. We've had numerous returns on which we have installed the updated, "improved" drive kits (including the ones mentioned in the link above) from MTD. Rusting is indeed the problem and they will in fact rust in a matter of one weeks time. The senseless needle bearings are the problem and until MTD goes back to the bushing type drive train everyone with this style drive will continue to experience trouble. Archi, you may get lucky (as we have on many occasions) and disassemble the drive train, free up the affected needle bearings, pack them with a "0" grease and be on your way. Perhaps you have a source for busings that can replace the needle bearings. This would be the absolute best repair.

 
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04-21-09, 04:45 PM   #6  
Thanks for the memories

Thanks for the pointers to previous thread on this. I searched "jammed" but I didn't search "locked".

Glad you remembered it.

Puey, any hints for dismembering the needle bearings. What the hell possessed them to put bearings in that area. OMG no wonder. We're not talking high revolutions here. And there is no access for regular oiling or greasing that I can find. hello!

This machine ran alright for 2 years and now we just went to put it away after it was running fine and no go.

A little bit of heat? or apply a pipe wrench to the axle which I'm going to be replacing anyway if I can't free the bearings?

I was wondering if the so called seals were the change because they don't show up on the parts list but come with the rebuild kit. If I can get this thing loose, I'll be off so quick to buy bushings you before you can say antidisestablishmentarianism.

Although I haven't pulled the wheels and the spacers off yet. I can't really tell from the parts break down if the axle bearings might actually be bushings. They fit in a hex shaped broach in the frame and they look like a one piece, maybe diecast with a hole drilled down the center, but maybe they are carrying needle bearings like your were talking about. May not get it apart for a couple of weeks but will report.

The hex shaft with the friction disc on it looks like regular ball bearings and I don't think those are locked. That shaft spins readily back and forth a few degrees, i.e. the looseness in the gears between the two shafts and I can see it moving easily in the bearings so I'm think it is the axle.

So, does anybody have a copy of the infamous Service Advisory MTD-028A.

MTD doesn't have any links up to that kind of stuff and they insist the only thing they ever said about any of this is read the owners manual about lubing the drive axle. I don't see any oil or grease ports, or I would have lubed the friggin thing. But I don't really see how you maintain it without flipping the machine up and pulling the pan, which is way beyond what I think they could expect for regular maintenance although I would have done it to save myself this trouble.

I get the feeling if I can't free the bearings, it's not going to be particularly fun getting the thing apart.

Anybody ever take one of these axles down. I was thinking if I have a new axle (that comes with the rebuild kit, or if I can spec out bushings I could just buy an axle), it might be easier to cut the old one in half to get it out of the machine and then bench it to see about getting the gears off which I would have to place on the new axle.

How much grief is that going to be? pullers, cut the shaft near the pulley or ???

Thanks,

Brian

 
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09-22-09, 03:56 PM   #7  
Update

Posted By: puey61 you may get lucky (as we have on many occasions) and disassemble the drive train, free up the affected needle bearings, pack them with a "0" grease and be on your way. Perhaps you have a source for bushings that can replace the needle bearings. This would be the absolute best repair.
So, summer's over. I bit the bullet and pulled the thing apart. Puey, you were right, the needle bearings came apart better than expected although they were absolutely seized against rotation. (for those following along they are on the inside of the dual cluster drive gears on the right hand side of each shaft. Not to be confused with the single gear which is fixed to each shaft. (one has a hex boss that fits the idler shaft and the other the other has a keyway and half moon key fixing its to the axle). when you look at these shafts there is a cluster of 3 gears on each shaft, but in each case one is separate and two are a single unit with a needle bearing.)

so, before I took it apart, I tried a 3 ft. pipe wrench on the axle just in case I could get it moving without disassembly. It did seize once during the winter and we were dragging it and it freed up, so I thought maybe if I added 36" of torque . . . but to no avail.

So then I started pulling wheels, c-clips etc. and I was actually able to drift the shafts out of the gears with a big punch and a 3lbs hammer without having to hit so hard as to fear doing other damage.

Sure enough, those needle bearings were all full of rust and junk. Took the PB blaster to 'em got em loose and running smooth and then greased 'em.

I can't figure what they used a design like that for in the first place. The axle is solid. If the axle were two piece to allow for differential on cornering, then you might need these sophisticated gears, but I don't get it.

As to the 'improved' needle bearing design. Do they come in a new gear cluster or do you just drive out the old bearings and put the new ones in? At first blush, the olds ones don't really seem designed to come out of the gear easily. They are not listed as a separate part on the parts breakdown. Now I could probably get them out, machine the hubs of the gears if necessary and put a bushing in, but that seems out of hand.

Unfortunately, I don't see any good way to put a zerk for grease or oil onto these gears that would allow for regular lubrication. I guess my recommendation is pull the pan and give the shafts a spray oiling regularly. Of course this is ultimately going to wash out the grease somewhat. Maybe I'll grease the hell out of it and just make sure not to let it sit long between uses and then break it down at the end of the season and see what gives.

Hope this helps anyone else facing this problem and I'm way open to any better ideas anybody has.

Brian

 
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10-04-09, 06:54 PM   #8  
MTD wheels jammed.

I'm relieved. I thought it was just me. Anyway, i've just had the machine apart and I'm convinced that the problem is in the ball bearings on the drive shaft and not the needle bearings on the gear assembly. I say that because the last time mine jammed I slid the gear assembly on the axle to the left and the wheels were able to turn. The drive shaft would not turn which indicated the ball bearing to me. At least I could get it to the mechanics who were stumped. Regardless, it's either the needle bearings or the ball bearings that are rusting up and locking the machine's wheels. I blew them out with carb cleaner and got rid of the rust and I've packed them with marine, lithium grease which is supposed to prevent water penetration. Here's hoping for the 09/10 winter.

 
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11-04-09, 10:00 AM   #9  
I've had the wheels on my 10hp 29" MTD-Pro jam several times, and have been able to free them up with PB Blaster and a lot of patience. Only two weeks ago, when I pulled it out of storage and again had to break the driveline free, did I find Puey61's thread with the service advisory (MTD-028A).

I just called MTD customer support, and the very nice woman I talked to stated that MTD only ever contacted authorized dealers about the problem (when they should have contacted all of us who registered our units). She went on to say that MTD offers the service kit at no charge to people who are still within their 2-year warranty period. I explained to her that this problem began while I was still within the warranty, AND that I had contacted an authorized dealer who told me how to free up the drive but never mentioned a fix for the cause (or I would have brought it in for service).

She told me she would attempt to get them to give me an exception, but so far there haven't been any given to her knowledge... Suffice it to say I'm irritated to hear that the company purposely chose to try and avoid having to spend money correcting the problem on this expensive purchase, preferring to "stick it" to those who might have made it through their warranty period without a complete failure.

I'll keep you apprised as to how this plays out, but I really think MTD ought to send me the repair parts on their dime (quoted price is between $70 and $80 just for the parts). I think it's especially shameful that they didn't bother to put ANY lubrication on any part of the drive assembly in order to protect it in the first place.

By the way, does anybody have a "foolproof" way of getting the "frozen" wheels off the axle without ruining the rest of the blower? Mine are rusted on tightly, and so far have successfully resisted PB Blaster, Mapp Gas heating, and liberal blows with a mallet to break them free. If MTD actually does the right thing and sends me the replacement parts I'm going to have to succeed in freeing them eventually.

I'm tempted to tack weld three thick tabs to the inner hub of each wheel so that I can use a gear puller to coax them off... Any thoughts are appreciated!

Regards,
Steve

 
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11-04-09, 10:55 AM   #10  
WOW! About half an hour ago Sally (from MTD customer service) called me back and told me that they'd be sending me the repair kit free! I'll have to either install it myself or pay to have a service center do it, but considering the circumstances I'm very pleased with the result!

I guess it pays to be friendly and cordial on the phone!!!

Regards,
Steve

 
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12-11-10, 07:27 PM   #11  
Same problem - 31AS6FEE729 - 2 stage 8HP 24"

My stairway was buried in snow and I bumped them while trying to clear the snow. After softly bumping into the stairs the machine did the MTD freeze. The wheels are locked in place like I am slamming on the brakes. Do I need the kit and how difficult is it to install?

 
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12-11-10, 09:01 PM   #12  
Dean,

This problem generally occurs after the bearings rust in place, which I've had happen as quickly as only one week from last use. I've managed to avoid having to completely tear down my unit and install the new kit by leaving the belly pan cover off the snowblower and spraying PB Blaster into the affected areas EVERY time I'm done using the blower. I'm very careful to avoid spraying the friction plate and rubber drive wheel (for obvious reasons).

It sounds as if you may have actually broken something when you hit the stairs. If your unit is under warranty you might want to take it to a local dealer and just tell them the drive wheels are frozen and you heard that MTD units have a history of this problem and a service advisory that covers the cost of replacement and repair. If you're lucky you'll get off without an expensive repair bill. On the other hand, if you're out of warranty, it's time to do some investigative work, because the lockup referred to in this thread isn't associated with a machine that is working fine and then suddenly locks up.

I suppose it's possible that some rust in the driveline broke loose when you hit the stairs and jammed the bearings up, but that seems rather unlikely. Does the auger turn when you engage it, or is the entire machine locked up? If the auger turns but the wheels don't it sounds like the driveline is the culprit. If the auger doesn't turn and the engine dies when you try to engage it then you have a different problem altogether. A trip to the service center may be unavoidable either way, but make sure you ask for a complete estimate before leaving it - Ultimately it may be cheaper to sell the broken snowblower on Craigslist and bite the bullet and buy a new one (or a used one) before paying for a repair on your own dime.

Good luck! Post back and let us know what the resolution is once you've found it, thanks! Hope this is helpful!!

Regards,
Steve

 
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12-12-10, 11:48 AM   #13  
I did in fact buy it second hand so I don't think I'm covered by any warranty. The auger did turn when I tried it when it was still running but not moving. It has not started since I shut it down either and it was finicky before I whipped out a parabolic heater and gave it a little warm-up earlier this winter.

 
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