Toro personal pace grinding noise?

forreste01(Cincinnati)May 9, 2006

My dad has a Toro 20017 that the rear wheels slip and make a grinding type noise going up slopes. The pinion gears were worn a little so I got some new ones. What else should I look for while I'm working on it? Is some slipping common on slopes when the bag gets full?


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Do you mean the tires are spinning, or the drive is on-and-off? I kind of think you mean the latter, which would indicate several things. The wheel center bushings and axle bolts could be worn out, resulting in a loose wheel which could cause the ring gear on the wheel to come out of engagement with the spur gear. Or, the wheel ring gears are worn/broken. The tires are subject to slip and spin under various conditions, which is normal.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 3:29PM
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Replaced the worn gears in the transmission? of a personal pace the other day. Same sound and same complaint.

How common of a problem is it?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 11:23AM
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Interesting. Probably a lubrication failure. These boxes lose their grease out of the axle holes. To avoid taking the rear end apart, I drill a small hole in the bottom or side corner of the box and inject Sten's #00 grease. I always get a lot in, so the boxes apparently dry out every year. The hole is plugged with a short self-tapping screw with a small O-ring under the head.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 1:47PM
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It didn't appear to have lost its grease, but it had come off the gears and fell onto the pan.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 4:02PM
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I have the same problems with the grinding noise. I purchased it new in May 2006 and three weeks later had it repaired. I believe the wheel ring gears were replaced. I opened up the wheels and they were still lubricated but added some more and it is still terrible. The self-propelled feature is pretty much gone, forget using the bagger, and it grinds even on flat surfaces. I wear ear plugs now. To make matters worse, I haven't got my $30 refund sent over 2 months ago.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 12:54PM
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mewrighttr6-where did you buy your Toro? It HAS to be under warranty. If you got it at a big box, they will replace it no problem, small shop, who knows.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 9:32AM
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Unfortunately, I didn't buy it at a big box store or a local dealer. Home Depot didn't have any in stock at the time. I'm in Roch, NY and bought through the largest dealer in Illinois on EBAY. Otherwise, I would have exchanged it for another model. I may have someone else try to fix it soon, if that doesn't work I'll contact Toro because the noise is unbearable, just ask my wife. That's the chance you take when you buy items on-line. Thanks for responding.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 12:23PM
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OK, I know I'm a little late to jump into this thread but I have a Recycler 20031 that has been in the shop 3 times for the left wheel grinding and slipping. It still is not fixed. I took it apart myself and studied it very closely. It appears at least on my mower that a piece that is welded onto the deck where the wheel bolt mounts to is not located exactly perpendicular with the drive shaft. Therefore not allowing the gears to mesh properly. I tried to explain it to the service shop tech but he doesn't believe me. I have the 3 year warranty which is nice but about ready to expire. They keep just replacing the wheel and gears which help for a while but eventually the gears wear out prematurely because they still do not mesh correctly. I guess I'll have to demand a meeting with the territory sales manager from Toro or something. Other than that problem I love the mower. Any of you guys talked to a rep from Toro about this yet?



    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 1:54PM
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I swore off of this site long ago due to all of the popups and crap it throws at you (I can see that hasn't changed) but somebody emailed me about this one.

The drive systems on the steel deck units are problematic to start with and they can give you fits if you don't know what to look for/do. Put the unit on blocks and run a long straight edge over the face of the wheels on one side of the deck. If the front of the rear wheel is toed in, the gears aren't meshing correctly. As already noted, new pinion gears and wheels will fix the problem for a short time but the misalignment issue has to be addressed. The HOC plate, pivot arm or the deck is bent. This means the unit has been dropped on the rear wheels or it was damaged in shipping. If it's a warranty repair we replace the bent parts. I have repaired dozens if these things by pulling the bolt that goes through the deck, HOC plate and cross brace. Add shims between the HOC plate and deck to attain proper gear alignment and reinstall the bolt. Not a Toro approved repair but it does work. I can be reached VIA email if anybody has any questions. HTH


    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 6:29PM
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Thanks towrench. I have been dealing with this problem for a while. It helped for a while to swap the wheels after replacing the left pinion gear (it still slipped before switching). I didn't even think about wheel alignment. Again,
Thank you!Thanks towrench. I have been dealing with this problem for a while. It helped for a while to swap the wheels after replacing the left pinion gear (it still slipped before switching). I didn't even think about wheel alignment. Again,
Thank you!Thanks towrench. I have been dealing with this problem for a while. It helped for a while to swap the wheels after replacing the left pinion gear (it still slipped before switching). I didn't even think about wheel alignment. Again,
Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 10:45AM
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Is there an echo in here?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 11:48AM
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What echo? What echo? What echo?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 12:31PM
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Has anyone tried changing the handle spring that causes the wheels to engage in gear or changing the rear tires to better grip models? My mower has been doing the up hill grind for the last six months and is only two years old.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 7:34PM
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I too have a grinding noise on my 2002 model 20018 Pers Pace - drive just stopped engaging unless pushing over high grass. This spring, after it started dog-tracking, I replaced pinion gears, the little wedge in the axle shaft, as well as one wheel assy - this worked well until last week. When I lift the wheels, grinding still occurs, but not as loud -- sounds like the transmission to me. I pulled the trans apart and the gears look a bit worn, but no chips or chunks. The trans was packed with tons of grease that had a bit of liquid (water??) in it.

What do you folks recommend? Replace trans or gears? Or Pack with wheel bearing grease, re-assemble and replace the belt? Have never replaced belt, but I doubt that would yield grinding noise...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 10:25PM
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Okay, I know I'm late too. 20017 personal pace. Horrible dealer response to this problem. Long story short - toro is sending me a part because the local dealer was so crappy. The tech didn't even know what wheels went on my mower.

Now the mower will not be pulled backwards when running along with the typical grinding noise. Seems like the drive will not disengage at all. Looked at the L side drive gear and it's now concave. The R side drive gear is fine, but that's the one that never stops pulling. Also, it appears that one side has way more washers, retention springs, etc., than the other. When it works right, it's great. When not, it's not. Anyone know why the drive won't let me pulling backwards? Any help is appreciated.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 2:19AM
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you will need to get a parts diagram from the Toro website and confirm that your wheel clutches etc are assembled correctly as per your comment about them looking different. Inspect, replace worn parts , clean and lube and re-assemble properly. Be sure to inspect the shaft itself for wear. Also, reflect on the above post by torowrench.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 12:52PM
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deserttex I just bought a 20056 and heard about the complaints about backing up. I discovered that there must be sprague clutches in it. Try this. Stop drive and pull back there will be resistance in the wheels. Now, stop drive and then push forward not even an inch is necessary just some minor push forward. Pull back on it and there is no resistance. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 9:07PM
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eagleman35(5b MO)

My PP quit while wife was mowing. what happened is the thin cover over the BEARING-BALL come off and gotcaught in the gears. 20017 used pretty heavy for five years. Have the bearing on order, Toro part
# 100-1048....cost $6.92. Wasn't much grease in the tranny. Will pack solid wih 00.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 7:39PM
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eagleman35(5b MO)

Replaced the bearing-ball cover plate.filled tranny with lithium BUT, PP doesn't work(?) Have 2 20017s

Will compare belt tightness and drive cable to see if there is a difference. Can't find a way to replace the belt....what's the secret on removing that plastic cover?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 12:05AM
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I finally solved the grinding noise problem on my Toro personal pacer. Under load the the spur gears on the wheel and drive pinion try to separate. This is caused by the outer bearing wear and elastic deflection of the wheel support plate. I cut a very shallow angle wood wedge and drove it between the wheel support plate and the frame. This prevents the wheel plate from deflecting under load. It works fine and it is great to have two wheel drive on this mower again.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:20PM
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My 20018 with PP just quit working - the PP part that is. Curiously, no grinding noise. It just stopped 'pushing'.

Where do i go from here?
I was looking at exploded-view diagrams on a website, and saw 2 different drive/transmission setups. Am I right on this? Mine has the small rectangular box underneath with the 4 bolts in it.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 3:27PM
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If you have confirmed input into the trans, but no output and you know the trans is inop- most would just replace the assy. If you decide to service the gears- replace the bearing too.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 8:56PM
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I've owned this mower for 10 years and this is the first problem with rear wheel grinding. I have the same grinding noise as everyone else. I noticed the left drive wheel, behind the gear assembly is broken and causing the wheel to tilt out of plum.This is the only problem I can find. I'll replace the wheel and let you know how I make out.
I feel TORO has a problem and should fix these mowers with a recall at no expense to us. The Auto industry does it !!!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 3:10PM
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Left rear wheel makes grinding noise on slope. Noone knows the problem. Cogs have been replaced. Lft wheel keeps breaking! Has been told to keep buying wheels at $25 a piece!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 6:53PM
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The likelihood is that the housing is bent- assuming this is a steel deck mower. When the housing is bent, or damaged pivot arm the wheel can't be held square.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 9:48PM
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Same issue. Started hearing occassional grinding, like when wheel got to certain spot. Adjusted cable, no change. Lift rear wheels, rotate fine with no noise. Put on ground and under load, hear the grinding. Took trans apart and while gears look a little worn, don't seem that bad. With belt and trans cover off, holding trans in place and spinning pulleywhile holding axle, seems solid and can't get to slip. Put cover on and do the same and will occassionally get it to slip. Almost like tightening trans cover does not allow gears to mesh totally. Does this seem possible?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 9:45PM
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Spinning by hand really isn't an equal thing if that is what you are doing. It may be best to start a new thread w/ model #s. These steel decks can have lots of drive issues.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 11:04PM
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My personal pace is only 3 yrs old- has been grinding for about 1 yr. When I removed the rear wheels, I found one gear missing a cog which allowed the slippage and grinding. I'm ordering new gears to replace the old ones, but I think Toro has a BAD DESIGN here. I will never buy another Toro product! They were good once, but not anymore!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 1:25PM
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I have a 20092 (not a steel deck) with the can't-pull-backwards problem for a couple of years and lately the grinding-noise problems. I gather the general approach is to take everything apart, see what's worn or broken, and replace a bunch of parts? Are there any kits available containing the commonly-replaced parts in what they call the "Transmission Assembly" (everything between the 2 rear wheels)?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 4:30PM
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You may have 2 conditions here really. Normally I just replace the transmission on Toros when they eat themselves internally. The drive clutch parts all are serviced separately. You will want to be concise when remove the wheel clutch pieces and lay them out in the orientation in which they came off.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:23PM
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Thanks, Tom. The parts diagrams I've got from the Toro Parts Viewer call just about everything under the deck the "Transmission Assembly". I assume you're talking about just the 108-8140 "Gear Case Asm" when you say "Transmission"?

Yes, I've learned over the years to lay out a towel or sheet or something and place the parts there, in order, as I remove them. For something like the "transmission assembly" I'll use a 1/4" dowel or piece of coat-hanger wire and slide all the parts along it.

When I first started having the no-backy-uppy problem I took off the gear case cover; everything looked fine inside and there was plenty of grease. Squirting some grease into the Zerks on the pivot arms helped, but it was probably too late. I never even noticed them for about 3 years. In fairness to Toro, they are mentioned in the owner's manual, but who reads those? :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 6:45AM
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One has to be judicious when adding grease to those arms. Too much isn't a good thing. If you end up doing a trans repair, you may want to verify those bearings are good- or maybe just replace them along w/ the immediate clutch pieces.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Just noticed while mowing today that there's a clear asymmetry between the left and right side. When walking straight ahead, I have to push harder on the left side, and when turning, a right turn is much harder to make than a left turn. Unloaded, both wheels turn at the same rate. So I'm assuming that I'll find some differences between the gazillions of washers, bushings, etc., on the left axle vs the right, and hopefully the $160 gearbox will be OK.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Replaced the wheel, pinion gear, and bushings in the pivot arm on the left side and the asymmetry and grinding noise went away. The pinion gear was very badly worn, as was the inner bushing in the pivot arm. The ring gear on the wheel looked fine, so I might have saved $33. The Gear Case Assembly (aka Transmission) looked good - no signs of wear anywhere. I assumed that both sides have worn equally, so parts for right side should be here shortly.

One question for the experts: The bushings on the Pivot Arm look identical, but have different part numbers (inner: 70-9760, outer: 47-2900) and different prices ($2.67, $8.24, resp.). Anybody know what the difference is? FWIW, the cheapo inner was very badly worn on mine, the pricey outer less so. There might be a lesson here...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:56AM
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I also had a grinding noise and loss of drive on my Toro 20333 Personal Pace mower. Reading these posts I concluded the problem was in the rear drive wheels. I removed the wheels and determined that the metal drive pinion gear was eating the plastic wheel gear due to poor alignment of the gears. The wheels appear to toe-in toward the mower deck due to wear in the wheel support bracket bearings and the general poor design of this wheel drive system.

I first replaced both wheels and the problem was solved for about 3 months, then it returned. I came up with a simple fix that after 18 months is still working great.

The fix is to position a 1/4-inch thick metal shim, or equivalent, between the end of the wheel support bracket and the vertical black metal plate that supports the rear of the mower. The shim will push out on the end of the wheel bracket, preventing the wheel from toeing-in that allows the drive gears to come apart inside the wheel housing.

I used two 2-inch diameter 1/8-inch thick steel fender washers that I got at Sears Hardware as my shim. You will need two washers stacked one on top of the other (1/4 -inch total thickness) for each side of the mower. The washers are placed between the end of the wheel support bracket and the rear mower support plate at the point where the lower of two 1/4-inch bolts mount the support plate to the mower deck. To keep the washers in place I added a small 1/4-inch washer under the lower 1/4-inch bolt head. This washer was just small enough to fit inside the hole of the fender washers, but not so thick that the head of the mounting bolt extended above the surface of the two fender washers. The washers are kept in place by pressure between and the end of wheel bracket and the mower support plate. The fender washers can be slipped into place by moving the wheel bracket via the wheel height adjustment.

When you change the rear mower height the wheel support bracket will move over the shim (or fender washers) so you have to be careful that you do not move the adjustment lever too far. Otherwise, the shim will fall out. In my case I do not move the rear height setting, so no problem.

Hope this helps someone keep their Toro Personal Pace out of the trash heap.

This post was edited by BCinDE on Wed, Dec 12, 12 at 17:12

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 4:38PM
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Glad I went with a Honda. Looked seriously at the aluminum deck recycler. Nice mower but seems to be many issues popping up with the personal pace. I like the simplicity of the Honda hydrostatic drive set up. Not much to it and seems pretty stout.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Reviving this thread:

Thanks all. I have been having the same trouble.
I bought new wheels and pinion gears. The wheels have metal ring gears instead of the plastic. I though this would solve the problem. The grinding on the left side returned on the 2nd cut.

I figured they were damaged a bad transmission that I just replaced so I bought another set of wheels, they started grinding again. (Left side.)

After reading this thread I checked the alignment and the play and the left side is towed in more than the right and there is much more play/flex in the wheel mounting plate.

I jammed an 1/4 inch block of steel under the wheel mounting plate in the front of the left rear wheel. While I cannot adjust the mowing height without moving it, it has solved the problem of the grinding. Even with a worn pinion.

I'll report back if it starts grinding again.

I spent a spit-ton on fixing a problem that really should not have occurred.

1 Like    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:40PM
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