We were leaving on a trip to visit family for a couple of weeks, and I really needed to mow. It snowed both days that I had to do it, and I needed to keep the snow removal gear on the tractor. When we returned, it was a jungle. I got the tractor converted from snow removal to mowing and planned to mow the next morning. I checked out the mowing deck and everything was working perfectly.
The next day was a beautiful day for mowing. I started the tractor and as I moved out of the garage I went to raise the mowing deck. Nothing happened. As I continued to move forward, I happened to look back and I noticed I was leaving a trail of hydraulic fluid. Crap.
I stopped and cleaned up the mess. I determined that the only time fluid came out was when I operated the SCV. The deck was at mowing height (down), so I decided to go ahead and get it mowed. If I'm careful, I don't need to raise the deck to get it mowed. I checked the hydraulic fluid level first and added a little bit. I also locked the SCV just in case I forgot.
After mowing, I figured that I needed to get the mowing deck off in order to see what was leaking. We also had a big storm forecast and I needed to reconfigure again for snow. I borrowed a floor jack from a neighbor so that with my floor jack on one side and his on the other, I could lift the deck enough to relieve the pressure on the height selector. Once I could get the selector set to INSTALL, I took out the jacks and the deck went down almost to the ground. I also had to operate the SCV to get it all the way down. Then I backed off it as usual.
Today I took apart the tractor to get to the cylinder and hoses for the MMM lift. You have to get the floor boards off, and those of you who have done this before know how much has to be removed.
The leak was on the cylinder. Fluid was coming out of the air vent. I believe this means that the seals are shot inside.
Before I found where the leak was, I think I found out why the leak occurred. On one end of the cylinder, the large pin was missing its small retaining pin and the large pin was out of one hole and sitting at an angle. I suspect that this created lateral forces inside the cylinder which damaged it.
On the other end of the cylinder, the large pin still has its retaining pin, but it's a hairclip pin. It's not that hard for one of those to get knocked out, and this cylinder is not something that gets removed frequently. When I re-install the cylinder, I will be using cotter pins that won't come out unless I want them out.
Getting the problem pin out was challenging. The big spring, which appears to be there to add force when the mower hanger is going down (it's probably not heavy enough on its own to clear the cylinder of fluid), fights you from putting the back end of the cylinder connection high enough to get adequate clearance to remove the pin.
Using the part of the mechanism for the mechanical lift, I added a pin and used a pry bar for leverage to overcome the spring, turning the assembly high enough to get the pin out. Because I needed the hand that was operating the pry bar, I used a ratchet strap to pull and keep it into the right position. The other end of the ratchet strap is connected to the horizontal bar on the ROPS.
Even with that elaborate setup, there is still an "interference fit" between the pin and the left fender assembly. I had to tap the pin to force it over the plastic edge on the fender. There will likely be a mark, but not visible with all the covers on.
The next time you have the floorboards off your 1025R, it would be good to check these pins and replace any weak ones with cotter pins. The best price I could get on a new cylinder was $282 from GFP with the discount and free shipping. I also got a phone quote from a local shop on rebuilding the defective cylinder. They wanted $250, but were not sure they could do it until they opened it up. You don't know if the damaging forces just got the seals or also gouged the metal parts.
My tractor is scattered all over my garage awaiting the new part. I hope it comes fast.