Older Craftsman Tractor Mower gears aren't engaging


Old 07-05-14, 12:28 PM
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Older Craftsman Tractor Mower gears aren't engaging

I'm the third generation owner of a 1980-81 Craftsman tractor mower. Recently had to replace the battery and starter.

Today I cut my grass with it. Everything seems to run fine although it seemed like even though the throttle was full out it wasn't covering the ground as quite as fast, but it was cutting fine.

Just as I was ending some folks walked by close to where I was cutting so I pushed in the clutch and waited for them to pass by. When I let the clutch out, nothing happened. I figured maybe it had slipped out of gear to I re-engaged it. Still nothing.

I then released the mower blades so I could take a closer look but even with the pedal disengaged the blades continued to turn, but no forward motion with any of the three gears and no reverse either.

I've checked to see if the belt had broken but it's intact though it feels like it may be loose. Hard to tell since I've never looked to see how much is normal tension.

Tractor is a Craftsman GT 18 with a 42 inch mower deck.

Can anyone give me some suggestions on what might be the problem and how to go about fixing it. I was supposed to cut my neighbors yard today as well but I'm out of commission until this is fixed.
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Old 07-05-14, 01:56 PM
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Hello Brad Swift,

Can you raise the seat and get the model number off the tag/label so we can see exactly which machine/drive system you have ?

Old 07-05-14, 09:40 PM
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Most likely your belt popped off one of the pulleys. Closer inspection will tell.
Old 07-06-14, 09:22 AM
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Correct Dx


I took the mower deck off yesterday and crawled under the tractor and studied the layout for several minutes. Finally figured out that the belt must have slipped off one of the wheels somehow.

Slipped it back on and all is well again.

Thanks, cheese.


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