So I was fixing my broken lawn tractor axle and I learned a few things. First the story a bit. I was using my tractor for mowing,  plowing, grading, hauling lumber etc. One cold day I loaded the tractor and trailer (4×8) with wood and popped the clutch on it. Heard a crack, but it was still going and then drove over a snow bank at which point it finally gave out, axle split in two, transmission guts (read: gears of all shapes and sizes) spilled out.

The first order of business was trying to find a replacement, this took a while as transmissions aren’t as prevalent as I thought since there are about 14 different models of trannies for the craftsman lawn mowers. They changed up the tranny design almost every year it seems.

I finally found a guy an hour away who had one, sounded like it would work but as he was taking the tires off his, he pulled out the right side axle, the wheel post came right out of the transmission. Oh well i thought, can’t be that hard to get it back in place  (should have at this point told him a lower price since he effectively doubled my work now that I have to take the tranny right apart – before all I had to do was pull one tranny out and plug the other in). I didn’t have any other offers so I went for it.

The tranny did turn out to work but my effort was trippled because the other guy pulled out the post 🙁 I had to take the tranny fully apart, I struggled with a number of things getting it back together, all the gears wouldn’t fit back in, it was uber greasy so my hands were covered, just generally a messy place. And then there were some parts I didn’t need to take apart and because I did I lost 1 ball bearing that was used as a shift guide, popped out somewhere on the floor, not absolutely required but frustrating.

I learned that there are many many wrong ways and only one right way to do things. For example, for the differential gears, I had to put the inner diff gears vertical before the whole unit would line up, hard to describe but once I change the orientation of installation, it just worked.  And then for the wheels,  I learned a bit more quickly but there is a key which locks the tire and the post, I think its meant, and definitely easiest to first put the wheel on, line it up then slide in the key, rather then putting the key in and trying to slide the tire down over top. Might sound obvious but wait until you have to figure it out for yourself 😉

This project is so far definitely one of the more frustrating ones :/ All that work that I shouldn’t have had to do completely disassembling the tranny. I’ll know next time I guess

So, I got it all back together, got the WHOLE tractor put back together, gears worked, tires spun, everything looked good. So I put my chains on the tires and tried and nothing. Tranny was spinning but wheels weren’t moving. It wasn’t until the next day in the light when I went to look at it that I realized what was wrong. The exact issue that I took the tranny apart in the first place for was the cause of the issue, the wheel post slid out, it didn’t like the clip that I had to initially replace which was the whole reason for taking it apart :S

Now I’ve got to take it all apart again, possibly even the wheels off which will be a pain, fix the clip again and HOPEFULLY have it stay in place, and put it all back together again. I shouldn’t have had to do any of that in the first place which makes it frustrating. Maybe I”m learning patience?  Well, not learning it but going through a process where maybe I should be learning it. I’ve spent probably 4 hours on it and it should have been an hour or 2 job to pull stuff apart, plug in the new piece and plug it all back together.

To sum up, I learned a lot of wrong ways to do things, seen as how I had never had a tranny apart like that, nor a back end off a lawn tractor. The second disassembly should go a lot smoother.

Now I’m looking forward to when I can get a stronger better quality tractor where it won’t break in the first place, and yep, they definitely make tractors like that, their called ‘garden tractors’. Built much more heavy duty for hauling, ploughing gardens, cutting grass. The best known of which is the Cub Cadet brand of garden tractors. Expensive though. Cheapest one I see there is 1800 and thats a 10 year old at least tractor. You can buy a brand new lawn tractor for a lot less than that 😛


Want to know how differential gears work? Check out this really good video on it:

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