MTD lawn tractor toe-in fix?

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  #1  
Old 03-21-15, 08:03 PM
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MTD lawn tractor toe-in fix?

I have an MTD 42" (White Outdoor brand) lawn tractor that I just put new ball joints on. It's about 12 years old and has been used on rough terrain.

In forward travel, wheel alignment looks good. In reverse travel, there is significant toe-in. I never noticed this toe-in during reverse before (but that doesn't mean that is was not there and I just didn't notice it).

There is also a fair amount of play in the steering, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is normal. I'm guessing it's about 10-15 degrees of play both left and right.

>>> The question: Will adjusting the ball joints correct the toe-in in reverse issue?

If yes, I'd be grateful if someone could explain or refer me to an online source for steering adjustment. The owner's manual does cover steering adjustment, but I don't have much confidence in the method given.

Thank you!
 
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Old 03-22-15, 04:56 AM
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If the wheels change alignment with forward and reverse and you mention there is a lot of play in the steering. It sounds like you have worn out linkages. Adjusting the ball joints really won't help if everything can just slop around. Follow the steering linkages from the wheels all the way back to the steering wheel and locate where the slop is coming from. It may help to have the front end jacked off the ground so you can wiggle the front tires side to side to see where the freeplay is coming from.
 
  #3  
Old 03-22-15, 09:11 AM
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Hi Pilot Dane,

Thank you for your reply.

Do you know of an online (or otherwise) source that explains how to adjust the ball joints?

The owner's manual does cover steering adjustment, but I don't have much confidence in the method given.

I appreciate your help!
 
  #4  
Old 03-22-15, 11:22 AM
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I don't know much about riding mowers but would expect the toe in adjustment to be similar as it is on a vehicle - adjusting the tie rod ends or equivalent.
Why don't you trust what the owner's manual says? Have you raised and inspected all the steering and suspension parts like PD suggested?
 
  #5  
Old 03-22-15, 12:02 PM
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Why don't you trust what the owner's manual says?
The manual reads "Adjust the drag links so that equal lengths are threaded into each ball joint."

This seems like simply a rough starting point given that there is going to be a little bit of play at several places along the system, even with new parts. And, that's assuming the drag links are exactly the same size and that the ends are threaded the same length as each other.

The nuisance is getting tools in a tight space and having to remove the ball joint nut and loosening the jam nut each time an adjustment is made. It's not a huge deal to make it work by trial and error but I thought there might be a handy trick to speed up the job.

Have you raised and inspected all the steering and suspension parts like PD suggested?
Not yet. I'll do that next time I go to where the lawn tractor is located (weekend home).
 
  #6  
Old 03-22-15, 12:49 PM
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I have an old (but still well maintained) 1984 MTD unit whose Toe-In Instructions include all of that loosening of the jam nuts on the Tie Rod Ends and attempting to arrive at a condition where the distance between the rear of the two front tire sidewalls is 1/8" GREATER than the distance between their sidewalls in the front. Caster and Camber are both engineered into the design and don't (or shouldn't) change.

I usually measure this distance from an obvious position on the tread pattern . Another machine I have from AMF (a 1973) calls for that same tire-to-tire dimension to be 1/4" greater in the back than it is in the front. That also assumes matching tires from side to side.

I think all of that discussion about threading "equal" lengths of thread into the ball joint of each side is primarily for the purpose of allowing you to keep your steering wheel centered . . . . which is more of an aesthetic thing than a functional matter.
 

Last edited by Vermont; 03-22-15 at 01:07 PM.
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