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Discussion Starter #1
I had a mower deck belt come undone on my X354 at 12-15 hours. My dealer jumped on it and got it done in three days. Now today at 20 hours it happened again. The belt is in pieces. I did not hit anything or do anything I can tell. Why would this happen again and why is the belt in pieces? I sure hope they can fix it as fast as last time because the grass is getting deep again. I cut at 3.75 inches so there is not much room for days going by with out cutting. I am haunted by the ghost of my LT155. I never had this problem on that tractor in 20 years. Any idea what would do this. I have the mulch attachment dealer installed. Help!!
 

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Belts

Unless you got a defective belt, which is pretty unlikely since it happened twice I would say look for one or more of the following:

Pulleys misaligned and the belt isn't tracking straight

Bad bearing on a spindle or tightener pulley

Belt rubbing against a bolt or other sharp object

Rough spot on pulley/ bad weld etc. on pulley

Debris hung up and flipping a belt off the pulley which is then mangled.

I'm sure there are other reasons but those come to mind first. Don't discount the debris issue- it doesn't take much of a stick to flip a belt off.

Treefarmer
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank You

Thank you for your help. I will have all these things checked. I do not hit anything. I was just mowing my lawn and did not see any sticks. I look close for objects after it happened last time. It is really weird that two belts went in 5 hours of use don't you think? And totally in pieces.
 

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Probably not a stick

Thank you for your help. I will have all these things checked. I do not hit anything. I was just mowing my lawn and did not see any sticks. I look close for objects after it happened last time. It is really weird that two belts went in 5 hours of use don't you think? And totally in pieces.
It's probably not a stick but I had to throw it in as a possibility. If I was guessing out of the list it would be a misalignment or a rough pulley. A little nick in a pulley will take a belt out in a hurry. You can look at a pulley and it will be fine, run your hand over it and start bleeding because it had a sharp shard. (I'm not recommending you risk your hand, if you check take an old T shirt or soft close and rub it around the pulley. If it's rough, it will snag.)

Other possibilities?- possibly the deck had a wrong size pulley or tightener installed, wrong size belt etc. The dealer should have checked all that stuff the first time but in a rush may have just slapped a new belt on and leter go.

Treefarmer
 

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You are cutting your grass pretty high @3.5". That is only 1/2" from transport level. How much length are you chopping off every time you mow? Also how thick is the grass? Lastly how fast are you mowing/moving? How sharp are the blades? These 4 factors along with deck size will dictate how much load/stress is put on the belt drive. It's always possible to overload any type of drive system.
 

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2 belts in 20 hours?

I would also check for free movement or misalignment of the spring loaded idler pulley. If it's not tensioned properely it can "bounce" on the belt allowing it to come off. Also a loose pulley arm pivot can cause the same problem.

What would I do with this new machine? I'd hand it to the dealer and tell him you don't want it back until he can guarantee they found the problem and it's "really repaired"... AND, have him GIVE you a spare deck belt for your annoying troubles.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, the tractor came back from the dealer last week and they replaced an idler wheel. Mowed once and all is fine. Mowed yesterday and it started smelling like something burning. When I engaged the deck it screams for 10 seconds. Called the dealer and they are coming for it again today. Maybe the third time is the cure. I can only hope.

The last comment suggested I was cutting the grass too high at 3.75". I don't get that as being a problem. Yes, I have nice fertile grass but I do not let it get too long. I would think that is well within the capabilities of a $3,700 tractor.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You are cutting your grass pretty high @3.5". That is only 1/2" from transport level. How much length are you chopping off every time you mow? Also how thick is the grass? Lastly how fast are you mowing/moving? How sharp are the blades? These 4 factors along with deck size will dictate how much load/stress is put on the belt drive. It's always possible to overload any type of drive system.
I cut at 3.75" in fertilized grass. I do not let it get too long. Maybe 4 inches as recommended by my lawn treatment guy. I mow at speeds at the low range of the indicator recommended speeds. I cannot believe this is above the capabilities of a $3,800 tractor. Thank you for responding. I would think the dealer would know what to do.

Best,
 

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Here is my thought. The reasoning about cutting at too high of a HOC isn't that the lawn mower isn't capable of traveling across a yard with grass that is 4" deep but rather a matter of angles. When the deck is raised to a high level the drive belt and pulleys may not be in line very well. This could put additional stress on the belts. These belt systems work better when things are relatively in line. On my X585 it wouldn't really matter much because it is shaft drive from the tractor to a gear box on the mower deck. Then coming off the gear box on the mower deck is a drive belt. Then compare that to my ZTrak which is a commercial mower and that is all belt drive but it is rated to cut from 1"-5.5". H-D Dealer Dude mentioned you are only 1/2" from transport level. I don't know what your cutting range is but it isn't likely that it is as much as a commercial mower.

I guess I would ask the dealer what the recommended Height of Cut (HOC) range is for this machine. I tried to look it up on JD's website for you but the specs just took me over to a general info PDF with not enough info. For what it is worth, I cut at 3.25". However that doesn't mean much. There are lots of varieties of grass out there in different parts of the country. I would consider a X3xx machine heck even up to the X7xx machines to be residential which are more designed for typical HOC found in suburbia. For the most part I think people do closer to 3" than 4" for their setting. At least around here with the grass type that we have. The X7xx is more like my X585 in that it is a shaft drive deck so it would do better at cutting at those extreme limits. Again, I don't know that it is an issue with how much of a load unless you are cutting to 3.75" when the grass is 6" long but you stated this isn't the case. I would consider that a better job of a much bigger machine with a brush hog though.
 

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Here is my thought. The reasoning about cutting at too high of a HOC isn't that the lawn mower isn't capable of traveling across a yard with grass that is 4" deep but rather a matter of angles. When the deck is raised to a high level the drive belt and pulleys may not be in line very well. This could put additional stress on the belts. These belt systems work better when things are relatively in line. On my X585 it wouldn't really matter much because it is shaft drive from the tractor to a gear box on the mower deck. Then coming off the gear box on the mower deck is a drive belt. Then compare that to my ZTrak which is a commercial mower and that is all belt drive but it is rated to cut from 1"-5.5". H-D Dealer Dude mentioned you are only 1/2" from transport level. I don't know what your cutting range is but it isn't likely that it is as much as a commercial mower.

I guess I would ask the dealer what the recommended Height of Cut (HOC) range is for this machine. I tried to look it up on JD's website for you but the specs just took me over to a general info PDF with not enough info. For what it is worth, I cut at 3.25". However that doesn't mean much. There are lots of varieties of grass out there in different parts of the country. I would consider a X3xx machine heck even up to the X7xx machines to be residential which are more designed for typical HOC found in suburbia. For the most part I think people do closer to 3" than 4" for their setting. At least around here with the grass type that we have. The X7xx is more like my X585 in that it is a shaft drive deck so it would do better at cutting at those extreme limits. Again, I don't know that it is an issue with how much of a load unless you are cutting to 3.75" when the grass is 6" long but you stated this isn't the case. I would consider that a better job of a much bigger machine with a brush hog though.
Checking the deck drive belt alignment at the cutting height you are using sounds like a good idea. However you would think that the deck should work correctly at any height.
 

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I cut at 3.75" in fertilized grass. I do not let it get too long. Maybe 4 inches as recommended by my lawn treatment guy. I mow at speeds at the low range of the indicator recommended speeds. I cannot believe this is above the capabilities of a $3,800 tractor. Thank you for responding. I would think the dealer would know what to do.

Best,
This doesn't sound like you are overloading the deck.

When you say that you mow at low range speeds. Are you talking about engine rpm or travel speed? Because low engine rpm and fast travel speed can overload the deck.

Odds are it's some mechanical problem. Surely the dealer will figure it out.
 

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Checking the deck drive belt alignment at the cutting height you are using sounds like a good idea. However you would think that the deck should work correctly at any height.
Yeah, I agree that on my ZTrak when I run the deck all the way up to the park position which is at least 5.5" or greater (not sure what it is), I can leave the PTO engaged but it isn't like I am cutting at that height so there is no real load on it. The only time I do this is if I am blowing off grass clippings from the driveway. Since I have the Z950R it has the hydrostatic deck lift not the foot pedal so if I want to hold the deck up, I have to press the button on the left control stick to lift the deck the spin the yellow knob to lock it in transport position. If I don't spin that knob, after 30 seconds or so the deck will lower down to the HOC even if I am holding the button for deck lift.

Based on the range of motion on my machine, I am sure the pulleys and belts are not in line but there is also very little load on the system as I am not actively cutting grass. It just saves me a trip to get the blower and I can have the job done in about a minute. I don't know that the X3xx machines have any adjustment for the pulleys but it is worth checking into. While technically you could park the deck in transport mode and the PTO will likely run so in theory you could use that for your HOC, I doubt it is recommended by John Deere. Again I couldn't find the specs on JD's website for what the HOC range was but if it is around that 4" limit, it probably will struggle a bit at cutting at that height.

I would imagine that in Pennsylvania that they have a variety of grass pretty close to what we have here in Minnesota. The climate isn't that different. We have a lot of Kentucky Bluegrass around here and like I said I have always cut 3.25". I do have to watch it though. I have a couple different blades for my Z950R (OEM High Lift, JD's Gator knock off and Gator G6). The bends on these blades are all a little different so while my HOC setting on my deck may be set to a given number it may be 1/2" off depending on the bends in the blade design. Sure I could bust out the deck leveling gauge and adjust the deck to make sure that 3.25" is 3.25" but that is too much work so I just bump the HOC setting and know there is a fudge factor. But this brings up another point. If using non OEM blades HOC might be different than the setting. I don't remember which ones have more or less bend to them off the top of my head but when I look at them I can see the difference and adjust my HOC at the time. I only say this because if it is an issue where running the deck at a level so close to the transport position that it is throwing off the pulley alignment then maybe he could get by with a blade that is tucked up higher in the deck so when running with a setting of 3" is really a HOC of 3.75" he might get away with it. The problem with this thought is it is going to be trial and error to see what blade have what bend profile. Also a blade that is tucked up in the deck more is going to reduce the volume of the deck. The yellow residential decks don't have as much volume (room between blade and top of deck) as the commercial 7 Iron deck that I have so I probably see less of a performance decrease in this change than others might on smaller machines.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Finally an answer

My dealer finally has an answer to my belt problem on the mower deck. First I want to say their service and support has been wonderful. When I called they were there the next day to pick up my new tractor. It turns out that a small bracket was mounted backward on the deck belt guide by the factory. Hard to see because it looked normal. Boy, I hope this solves the problem because it is no good to doubt if you are going to be able to mow the lawn when it is needed. I should maybe have keep my old tractor as a backup. Oh well, hindsight. The dealer is Littles in Zieglerville, PA and they have been great. I also asked about cutting at 3.75" and the manager said that was not a problem.
 

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Good to know and I wondered if it was something along those lines.

Mowing height should not affect the belt, hence the name mowing height, not mow only at this level adjustment.

I often mow with my deck completely up position. Wondering through high, unknown lawns or vacant lots, require that before I drop and grind. Never had an issue.

Sure is frustrating but you feel good when you find the problem and it is not an obvious one. Glad your dealer stuck with it.

isaac
 
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