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So this project started out as routine maintenance but turned into a real PITA and not sure if the problem will persist with other 60 MMM but perhaps a heads up. While preparing my 60 auto connect MMM off my 1025 for winter hibernation I noticed the belt had spots of irregular wear. Upon inspection of the pulleys I noticed severe rusting in sections of the 3 spindle pulleys and a small amount on the right angle gearbox pulley and almost none on the tensioner pulley. Since purchase I keep the tractor and all implements in a heated shop. The options were fairly simple, replace the pulleys or try and clean them up. I went with trying to clean them up for now.

Unusual belt wear Belt.jpg

When I removed the belt, in order to remove the pulleys, I noticed that the blades spun easy, but definitely sounded dry, although I just greased them prior to noticing the belt wear. I needed to remove the spindle nuts and the right angle gearbox to so I could work on the pulley. When I tried to remove the spindle nut it was beyond tight. This is s 30mm nut on the top of the spindle(opposite end from blade) I tried a ½ drive air impact with no luck, tried a ¾ electric impact, no luck, switched to a 30” breaker bar with a 2x cheater and managed to budge the first one loose. But unfortunately one spindle nut would not come off using any non destructive measures and I did not want to use the heat wrench yet. I am going to borrow a ¾ air impact from my buddy to hopefully get the last nut off.
The pictures show the severe regional rusting on some several pulleys. I am not certain of the cause of this, but have two theories. One is there was an issue with what appears to be cadmium plating or the rinsing of the acid wash used in that process both unknown. Or, is the fact this tractor was purchased in mid 2015 as a leftover 2014 and was sitting outside for 6 months, hence causing issues with where the belt was against the pulley with trapped moisture for months. Really though with my knowledge of cadmium plating and some extreme applications we have spec’d it, the second scenario would not occur if the plating were good. Basically I have no idea why this happened.

Condition of mower is like new, no reason to see severe rusting anywhere mmm hanging.jpg

Severe rust on pulley pulley rust 1.jpg

Pulley after using a wiz wheel on it to clean up rust Pulley cleaned.jpg

Added a coat of paint for some protection Painted.jpg

Next big concern, lubrication:
After removing the center pulley I buffed the rust off with a 2” wiz wheal and they came out pretty good, there are still some pits there but I don’t want to remove much material from the pulley. Now is there things get really concerning. I pulled the spindle out the bottom to take a look at the lower seal and bearing and I discovered NO fresh GREASE is at the bottom. After some inspection I see there is only one grease hole to get the grease to the bearings, and that hole is above the top bearing between the bearing and seal, where it should be for the top bearing. However, in order for grease to get to the lower bearing it must push through the upper bearing (forcing through small areas between the ball cage) and travel behind the spacer several inches and then get to the lower bearing. If any pressure develops it will push out the upper seal. I wondered if I just have not been adding enough grease so I reassembled the spindle and pumped 15 pumps of grease in... I took the spindle back apart and as you can see from the image grease pushed out of the top everywhere but nothing came out the bottom. I put it back together and decided to pump until I got back pressure indicating it was full and pushing against the seals. I put in a few more pumps in and the grease gun handle was tight, I forced a couple more pumps in and took it apart again. This time I noticed the top seal had pushed out about .05, as one would expect, but still no grease at the bottom bearing.

After removing pulley this pict shows the grease has come out around the seal in the top but still no grease showed up on bottom grase out top.jpg

Picture showing all the grease pushing out the top and pushed the seal Top bearing grease.jpg


Picture of lower bearing after adding max grease you can see there is only some original grease present. Bottom bearing.jpg

I considered putting the spindle in the lathe and drilling the grease hole and a new cross hole at the bottom to get grease out at both ends. However, after measuring I discovered there is not room to get a cross hole between the bearing and the seal where it needs to be because the seal sits tight to the bearing. All spindles demonstrated the exact greasing scenario where I could not get grease through them. With all this I ended up packing the lower bearings by hand. It’s really not a bad job to pull the spindles on this deck providing the nuts come off. Maybe it’s not worth trying to do anything with eh spindles but rather changing the service to pull the spindles once a year. I also wonder if the factory grease has turned to paste and it’s all packed up behind the bushing too stiff to push fresh grease through all the small spaces?

I removed the other pulleys and dressed them up as well, but unfortunately one spindle nut would not come off using any non destructive measures and I did not want to use the heat wrench yet. I am going to borrow a 1” impact from my buddy which should get something moving. I will remove one seal and bearing after I get the last spindle off and have a look at the grease inside.
 

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Interesting. My 60" MMM is brand new and never run except to test. I think tomorrow I will go push some grease through it and check the lower bearings to see if it is making it down there. This should prove/disprove if the original grease turned paste and is preventing flow. I'll post my results here.
 

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I wonder if the heat from normal use would allow the grease to migrate to the bottom bearing? As of yet, we've never heard of a spindle going bad on any 1 series here on the forum that I know of. I've seen the gearbox go bad, have a bad seal, etc., but never heard of a spindle issue. :unknown:
 

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I remember when I owned a 345 with 54 deck that the manual stated to grease the spindles until an audible cracking sound was heard. I used to witness grease escaping above and below the spindle shaft. I looked for and did not find the same language in the maintenance section of my 54D manual I got with my 1 series. So far I have only been introducing a couple of pumps per spindle with no evidence of grease escaping the assembly. I wonder how "fresh" your deck was when you got it. That pulley rust was pretty deep where the belt was not covering it when it occurred. All that hardware was originally zinc or cadmium plated and the belt contact area is quickly worn through to the bare steel at the first use. You will have to let us know if you learn more about proper grease procedure for these spindles.
 

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I wonder if the heat from normal use would allow the grease to migrate to the bottom bearing? As of yet, we've never heard of a spindle going bad on any 1 series here on the forum that I know of. I've seen the gearbox go bad, have a bad seal, etc., but never heard of a spindle issue. :unknown:
Good possibility Jason.....^^^^^^^

Another may be the internal bearing housing may be shaped to "pump" or move the grease downward into the lower bearing when in motion. I've never had a spindle go bad. Did have to replace some spindle bearings on my old 420 L&G 60" deck over the course of about 25 years though. Those were supposedly permanently lubricated.
 
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I have an old 102 ride on which I regularly greased the cutting head bearings on from new, three pumps. Did not want to over grease and push the seals out. Eventually the bearings failed, I disassembled bearing assembly and found little to no grease in the bearings, big lump in the middle of the housing. I was not happy, Designed to fail, the housings should have been filled when they were originally assembled. So I felt I had 2 choices one was fit new standard bearings and prepack the housing while installing the bearings and risking pumping the seals out, or fit sealed bearings and not have to grease the bearings again. I went with the sealed bearings, they lasted a lot longer.
I also had the bearing housings come loose, I broke the hold down bolts while trying to tighten them or while removing the housing, I replaced the self tapping bolts by drilling the holes out to 5/16" and installing bolts nuts washers and spring washers made it easier to tighten or remove. I had no more trouble with the housings coming loose again.
Now that I have a 1025R with a 54D auto connect deck, looks like I should check the bearings.
Regards John
 

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I like Jason's theory about the heat too. I think I will keep and eye on my 60d, I have always thought the spindles have taken a lot of grease before I see or hear the grease. I have never noticed any grease under the MMM when cleaning either.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Sleeve removed

I removed the spindle, seal and upper bearing to see if grease was between them. Good news is that there was some OEM grease in the cavity, not packed but it was on the bearing. The cavity is a straight bore, basically 3/8" larger than the sleeve, leaving a fairly large area to fill with grease. That said, filling that much area out of a small zurk fitting hole takes lots and lots of pumps of a grease gun if the cavity is not pretty full of grease already.

Further noted, I use waterproof grease that is blue or green and that grease was not even down to the OEM grease suggesting my couple pumps now and again was not getting grease pressure to the bottom. I plan on cleaning out all the factory grease on each spindle, its clearly not water proof as it was watery brown slime and pre-pack the bearings, and stuff the cavity with grease prior to putting the upper bearing in hoping that the standard few pumps every couple mows will then suffice to move grease down. Incidentally there is no way to add grease manually to the cavity or see it unless you remove a seal and bearing because of the cavity is hidden behind the bearing. I would think unless the seals leak that you should hardly every need to add much grease once its full. Of course keeping it juiced tight will help displace moisture that breaks down the regular greases into an ugly slurry.

I am headed to dealer later today to grab a new upper seal (figure it will not stay in the housing tight now that I removed it) and will talk to the service guys. My concern with pumping until you hear a pop or see grease out the top is that is forcing the seal to open or lift the seal up out of the housing. I noticed that if the seal raises even .06 it then rubs under the cap causing more issues.

Looking down through the housing to the lower bearing without the sleeve in Housing.jpg

You can see the area around the sleeve that needs to be filled with grease to transfer to the other bearing. sleeve.jpg
 

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Today I talked to the JD service manager when I picked up parts. I asked if he has seen issues getting grease to the lower bearings with the grease fitting on the top. He instantly said hat the spindle grease fitting will only push grease in the top bearing it wont get to the bottom bearing. The lower bearing only gets grease if disassembled. He said that some of the mowers now call for a different lower bearing and if the part numbers are different for top and bottom the bottom one will be a sealed bearing. He checked the part numbers for the 1025R 60 MMM and said they are the listed as the same top and bottom so both are open cage bearings. He said that most of the spindle bearing issues he has seen are on the bottom, of course it depends on how well the factory grease was, stating its hard to keep water out if you wash your deck and especially if pressure washed. Depending on the amount of use he suggested disassemble yearly to repack would be the best PM and check that lower bearing.

Additionally, I asked about the rust on the pulleys. He said he has seen this before but not consistent and to all different degrees. He is unsure what the real cause of this is but has not been a warranty issue as they do not consider rust warranty because of environmental variables.

So all in all sounds pretty normal although not comforting to me. For now I am proceeding as stated previously, however, I will not force grease in to try and get it to the bottom as previously thought. In the future if I have any bearing issues, I will source a sealed bearing from the local bearing house, pop off the bearing seal cover, clean out factory grease and pack the bearing with waterproof grease then push the seal cover back on the bearing and go with it.


I mow about 7 acres with my 1025r is this about average for others? The time depends on my mood.... but I would guess the mower is on about 4-5 hours each time, if family is visiting mowing can take me all day. Also with the info on the potential grease problems, I would be interested if others find some lower bearing grease issues as they perform service in the future.
 

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Thank you for telling us the dealers feedback.
Geez, how hard would it have been to design the housing to accept grease to both bearings? When I take mine apart later this year I will look for ways to modify the spindle and bearing spacer to work better.
I can't see from your pic where the grease exits the shaft but I think a side hole in the shaft centered between the bearings (even if I have to drill the shaft deeper and plug a non centralized hole), and put a corresponding internal groove in the spacer with a cross hole to the cavity.
 
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