X304 deck drive belt sourcing question
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    Chuckv's Avatar
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    X304 deck drive belt sourcing question

    The time has come for me to replace the deck drive belt on my X304 dedicated mower. I have the 42 inch X deck that takes the M154621 belt. I see that our sponsor GreenFarmParts sells both a Deere part and one made by Stens that is said to be equivalent. The latter is $13 less expensive than the OEM part, so I have to ask if anyone here has experience with that part.

    Any direct experience with the Stens belt equivalent for other Deere applications would be helpful as well. On my older Deere garden tractors I have always used factory belts due to the unique effective lengths and V angles compared to off the shelf generic belts, but this Stens unit is the exact specs of the original...so it might be worth a shot.

    Thanks in advance for your input.

    Chuck

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    T-Mo's Avatar
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    Chuck, you know the basic answer to aftermarket belts. I wouldn't waste my time and money on one for a JD, as you should know JD specs it's belts specifically for that application and that includes not only length and width, but the angle of the v-groove. Most have found that buying aftermarket belts incurs more time and money spent buying another too soon afterwards.
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    Chuckv's Avatar
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    Terry,

    Thanks for you input and I have always held those opinions for JD parts in general, but "consumables" such as oil, hydraulic fluids, filters, etc are made to industry standards and I have used quality alternatives for those in the past. Perhaps with the volume of Deere equipment out there, belts are moving into a similar 'targeted' set of alternatives...

    I agree that using JD belts is the best choice for vintage equipment like my 322, 318 and their associated attachments considering MOST over-the-counter belts have different working lengths and V angles than are designed into the JD pulleys and belts. However, this Stens belt has the exact same working length and the same Aramid (Kevlar) covering as the OEM belt and seems to be an application specific design...hence my open question to the members here on their experiences.

    GreenFarmParts.com is a respected sponsor here that I have used several times in the past to buy JD parts, and I suspect that they have done their homework in even offering such an alternative on their site.

    Chuck
    Last edited by Chuckv; 03-28-2016 at 09:16 AM.

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    Sorry I have no direct experience with an X304 to relate, Chuck. My vote goes to trying the less expensive belt. You have a baseline to compare with the OEM, so you get a reasonably good idea if the replacement is as good. I'm betting someone else has already tried one.
    While I would never, ever, ever, suggest using anything but the OEM belts for an old variable speed driveline, a mower deck is usually less complicated. It appears Deere has gone through 3 different material specs with the latest type supposedly better than the last. Cost keeps going up on belts but we the end user sometimes benefit, sometimes not. It takes a good belt to survive the twists, tight turns, and turn backs of the mower deck. I favor a primary and secondary belt design, but have to admit the single belt seems to work well.

    When the mower drive belt on my STX46 went up to $50 (now $75) a few years ago, I felt compelled to try something less expensive. If I got only one season instead of the 2 season max. with the OEM belt, all I'd have would be the misery of changing it every year. Turns out, the Gates Red Letter belt that is .520" longer than the original, slightly narrower, and unknown angle is ready to give a go at season #5. It cost $20 +tax. I do use other mowers during the season and would estimate about 40 hours per season on the STX deck.
    Being a tad longer, it goes on just a bit easier and tension is still fine. It never slips and shows no unusual wear marks. The OEM was always too tight, in my opinion, adding to it's demise. Results will vary, of course.

    So, let us know how the other brand compares if you choose to experiment.

    tommyhawk

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    Chuckv's Avatar
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    Thanks Tommyhawk,

    Yes the sticker shock on the JD deck belt for my 62c on the X495 was an eye-opener...nearly $90 for the M142997. It is an unusual cross section belt (hexagonal...) and I did not even look for a cross referenced one.

    I just ordered the Stens belt for my X304 from GreenFarmParts.com and got the GTT discount as well. I will let everyone know if it fails prematurely in my estimation. It might take a while, as the one it will replace came with the tractor in 2007 and has lasted 350 hours so far -- but is quite cracked now...

    Chuck
    Last edited by Chuckv; 03-28-2016 at 11:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuckv View Post
    Thanks Tommyhawk,

    Yes the sticker shock on the JD deck belt for my 62c on the X495 was an eye-opener...nearly $90 for the M142997. It is an unusual cross section belt (hexagonal...) and I did not even look for a cross referenced one.

    I just ordered the Stens belt for my X304 from GreenFarmParts.com and got the GTT discount as well. I will let everyone know if it fails prematurely in my estimation. It might take a while, as the one it will replace came with the tractor in 2007 and has lasted 350 hours so far -- but is quite cracked now...

    Chuck
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    If you want to experiment try these Replacement John Deere Belts just another option,don't know how the prices compare to what your looking at.
    Tom

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    Thanks for the second potential source. I did find my part number there, and it is marginally less that the JD part but more than the Stens offered through GFP at the top of this thread.

    Turns out I just came in from changing this belt for the Stens since it came in the mail this afternoon, and while they look identical, the section is ever so slightly smaller and the belt fits the deck at the limit of the tensioner and may be just a tad loose -- sure runs quietly though. We will have to see how long it lasts.

    If it is a bust/disaster you will hear about it right away...but if it lasts three or more seasons you'll have to wait for the verdict.

    Chuck

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