Craftsman Lawn Tractor very hard to shift


  #1  
Old 06-27-18, 02:54 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 26
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Craftsman Lawn Tractor very hard to shift

I've got an old Craftsman riding mower, model 917.273351, with a 16 HP Briggs. Always stored out of the rain, but it got entirely submerged in the crazy flood down in Louisiana last year. It has now decided to be very difficult to shift the lever into gears.

I've greased the linkage without any real success. It is the original fluid in the transmission, but I'm sure it is full of river water also. Any suggestions other than pulling the whole thing apart? I added a tiny bit of motor oil and that helped actually, so I'm wondering if I should just try a nice drain and refill.

Once it moves into gear, it will pull the mower just fine. It just sticks when I'm trying to get it out of neutral. Hard to get into any gear, including reverse. I can push the mower around just fine by hand if it is neutral.
 
  #2  
Old 06-27-18, 03:12 PM
A
Member
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,902
Received 73 Upvotes on 66 Posts
Changing the oil seems way to rational to not do, in my opinion anyway. Same for the engine if you haven't done that, and at a minimum I would pump enough grease into any of the zerk fittings in the suspension and steering joints to displace any water that found its' way in there. And back to the transmission, sooner rather than later, because whether that is your immediate problem or not it is obviously not good for it. Try that and let us know how it works.
 
  #3  
Old 06-27-18, 03:41 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 26
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
The engine is good now. That took a little work but I've got all the water out. Strange thing is, transmission didn't give me any issues until several months later. What's all involved in changing the oil in the transmission? I've seen on the internet that there's and accessport on top the transmission in some of these. Do I just need a vacuum pump to suck it out and then refill it?
 
  #4  
Old 06-28-18, 05:08 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,902
Received 73 Upvotes on 66 Posts
Well shucks, seemed like an obvious enough next step to me, but I see what you mean now and don't know. You can go to searspartsdirect.com by the way and view and/or download the owners manual if you don't have it and see the parts breakdowns, but I looked there and don't see the type of oil it uses nor a place to drain or fill it. I still would pursue that but don't have a solution on doing so, so maybe someone else here can help. Meanwhile the Sears parts site I provided does have a chat option, and I don't recall ever using it but maybe they could help. Also, the 917 prefix indicates that it was manufactured by AYP, American Yard Products, so you might see what information you can find that way. Or maybe I'm wrong and the thing is sealed such from the factory that it's not necessary.
 
  #5  
Old 06-28-18, 06:52 AM
V
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,195
Upvotes: 0
Received 3 Upvotes on 3 Posts
That Tractor may have been equipped with one of those Tecumseh/Peerless/Lauson 6 Speed Transmissions (transaxles) that were packed solid with grease as thick as vaseline at the factory and do not drain and explains why they weren't even equipped with a drain plug.

I've been involved in re-building two of them, and they were re-packed with that non-liquid grease . . . . so I don't know how it would interact chemically with water (salt water?) if it were submerged ?
 
  #6  
Old 06-28-18, 07:43 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 26
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I'm reading they are really not meant to be serviceable. That would make sense with being filled with that type of thick grease. Anyone have any suggestions for what I should do? I'm not going to pull the thing apart and rebuild it--that's above my skill level for sure. I wonder if it is worth paying someone to do vs. replacing the unit.
 
  #7  
Old 06-28-18, 08:35 AM
V
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,195
Upvotes: 0
Received 3 Upvotes on 3 Posts
As an intermediate step, you could pull it off and open the top hole and turn it upside down and see if "any" water comes out . . . . or insert something like a "Q" Tip or Pipe Cleaner to get a sample and see what consistency it is and whether it's possible that it's interfering with the shifting.

If I recollect correctly, one of my re-builds was made necessary only because a needle bearing had seized up and made it difficult to keep the shafts aligned while shifting. Could it be that some water loosened up a few parts which had been stuck together by the grease alone.

It was not a clean job; but wasn't very expensive parts wise . . . . less than $20. The replacement grease probably costs more. I wound up selling my extra parts on eBay when I got through.

Finding someone competent to do the work is another story . . . . you may find that you're the most capable one around. Lots of bearings, bushings and gears are available on eBay . . . . but it doesn't sound like you have any damaged "major" components.

Here's a link to a service manual:

http://https://www.scribd.com/doc/39027955/1-TESMM-Tecumseh-Engine-Service-Maintenance-Manual

First Step . . . . identify your unit ! ( So you don't waste time learning about the wrong transmission).
 
  #8  
Old 06-28-18, 11:08 AM
cheese's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 16,006
Received 146 Upvotes on 135 Posts
Don't get too deep in it yet, here's a trick that works 90% of the time:

There is a needle bearing in the top half of the case where the shifter goes into the transmission. This needle bearing is normally where the problem is. Get a can of PBlaster and spray directly at the point where the shifter enters the case while shifting it through the ranges. At first you might only be able to shift it back and forth a little, but as the PBlaster penetrates, it will get easier and before you know it you'll be going through the entire selection with ease. I had one brought to me that was in a flood and I opened the transmission, thinking it would be full of water. Nope, not a drop that I could tell.

There are some selector fingers that ride in grooves on the main shaft. If those get rusty it can cause hard shifting but usually a little working with it gets them lubed up well enough, so I suspect your problem is solely the needle bearing at the shifter. The grease inside is usually something like "00" grease or bentonite grease.
 
  #9  
Old 06-28-18, 11:18 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 26
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I'll try this later and update. Thanks for the tips!
 
  #10  
Old 06-28-18, 05:33 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 26
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
95% sure you nailed it, Cheese. I'll spend a little bit more time with it over the weekend, but it's shifting good now. I didn't crank it and drive it yet, but it's doing a hell of a lot more than it was before. I greased all those linkages, I just didn't use a good penetrating oil. I think that was the trick. I'll update later this weekend, but I think I owe you one.
 
  #11  
Old 06-29-18, 03:02 AM
V
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,195
Upvotes: 0
Received 3 Upvotes on 3 Posts
And that upper Needle Bearing at the Shifter Rod may have been the first (only ?) moving part to come in contact with the flood waters.

How long was it submerged ?
 
  #12  
Old 06-29-18, 04:35 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 26
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
About a day or so. Everyone had to evacuate so we're not exactly sure.
 
  #13  
Old 07-01-18, 10:02 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 26
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Shifted much better. I let it sit longer with some more penetrating oil on it. I still had a few issues where I had to wiggle it a little bit, but I'll keep working on it. It is certainly 95% better than the way it was before. Thanks again
 
  #14  
Old 07-01-18, 01:01 PM
cheese's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 16,006
Received 146 Upvotes on 135 Posts
Nice, glad it worked out! ? Thanks for the update.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description: