Rdeplacing the spindle on a Craftsman mower deck

stuartyMarch 25, 2008

I own a Craftsman LT3000 42" and when using, the blade hit a rock and damaged the star mount at the bottom of the spindle of the deck mower. I see that there are forum members who are comfortable and have experience in replacing the spindle, which is what I think need to do, but my problem is that I cannot remove the nut at the top of the spindle that holds on the pulley wheel. My brother came over last Sunday and held the blade while we tried to turn the nut, but our combined strength wasn't enough to make the nut budge. If I could remove the nut I could (I hope) remove the pulley wheel, and then pass the spindle through the deck, and then reverse the process for a new spindle. Perhaps some members on the forum could chime in on my approach, and if it is sound, give some ideas on how to remove the nut. Maybe I am using the wrong tecnique or tools? Maybe I shouldn't be trying to remove the nut!

Assistance is appreciated.


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The top nut needs to come off. Pull the deck if you haven't so you can work at it. Without an impact, I would tighten the blade best as can and block it with a solid object and then go at it. Pay attention that the spline in the top pulley is still functional and not stripped when you get it off. You could replace only the shaft kit if the housing isn't broken at the mounts. Many times the bolts that retain the spindle to the deck housing will twist off- especially on the old 3 leg versions. The new spindles attach w/ self tapping bolts.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 11:56PM
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Don't know if this is applicable to a Craftsman deck or not but I changed all my spindles on my MTD 48" deck recently.

Didn't have to remove the pulleys to get the spindles out as they bolted on from the bottom and simply lifted off the deck when the bolts were taken out (and the blades off naturally :D )

And the spindles came complete with new pulleys.

Might be worth checking out to see if this is the same set up on Craftsman.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 1:42AM
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You might make sure they don't have left hand threads. I don't know if they are on Craftsmans or not, but they could be. If not spray some WD-40, PB Blaster, or other lubricant on it, let it sit for a while,and then tap the wrench with a hammer while putting pressure on it, maybe it will break it free. You can also try heating the nut a with a torch to loosen it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 11:26AM
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lefty-loosey/ righty-tighty!
And, ya can't do that job with a 6inch Crescent wrench! It takes some healthy tools for that job!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 6:33PM
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Stuart, I know exactly what you're talking about because I'm looking for an answer to the exact same problem. Mine is a 50" deck, Craftsman, and the bolt that holds the blade on is broken off.

You can't turn the big nut on top of the spindle/pulley assembly without the whole thing rotating, and there's no way to hold it place so it doesn't spin. The crappy star-shaped blade holder thing was worn out years ago anyway. Without the blade grabbing the other end, there's nothing to hold it. I've tried everything I can think of.

There are a couple of little holes in the top of the pulley. I've tried locking it down with different things...bailing wire, a board with nails, lodging different things in between...it's hopeless.

Can somebody at least confirm which way the big nut is supposed to turn? It looks like a normal lefty-loosey, but it's hard to tell for sure. The thing won't budge.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 9:07PM
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The top nuts are a normal right hand thread. See lefty lucy above. God I miss her. . .Anyways- if you have no way to hold the bottom you either a) get strong friend to hold top of pulley with the belt or b) throw the deck in the back of the suv, , put the wife in the drivers seat of the suv, have her look doe eyed at a mechanic at a tire shop or whatever and have them buzz the nut off with an impact wrench. As stated before, it is easier to replace the shaft kit than the whole spindle, especially without impact tools.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 1:02AM
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- Put the mower blade back on if you removed it, as it will help hold the spindle as you loosen that bolt.
- Cut a piece of 2 x 4 about 2 feet long or so.
- Stand the deck up vertically so that you have access to loosen the top bolt and hold the mower blade on the other side...left hand /right hand.
-Position the 2 x 4 , one end against the mower blade and the other against the inside edge of the deck so as to brace the blade from rotating.
- Next, spray the nut with some PB Blaster or something and turn it slowly until the 2 x 4 jambs the blade from rotating. Then apply force to the wrench to loosen it, or keep it tight and give it a blow with a mallet, if all eles fails.

Hope that is useful.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 2:17AM
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Did one yesterday morning. I usually impact these off, but you can use a breaker bar and a 15/16" socket. Once the pulley is off, you can tap the shaft down through the spindle with a hammer and punch. Check the bearings as a loose one will be noisy. Aftermarket kits are available with a shaft and new bearings for short money.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 4:35AM
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Thanks for the replies. It gave me the confidence to really go at it. I blocked the blade from turning with a heavy wood post, and stopped the mowing deck from moving by jamming it against the tractor. Then with my wife sitting on the post (too light really at just 120lbs!) and a good pull or two, it loosened.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 4:05PM
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stuarty, I can't believe you passed up a really good excuse, er, I mean REASON, to buy an air compressor and impact wrench! (My compressor is one of the handiest - and most-used - tools I own.)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 12:57PM
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Sounds like you need to use an Impact with an air compressor. Block the blade first. You can do this as a DIYer.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 7:45PM
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I too lost the star and had nothing to hold onto my 2001 LT1000-42 spindle. As without the star the blade will just spin on the shaft. So after some WD40 soaking, I removed all pins and cable to move the deck over so impact and 7/8 socket would get on pulley nut. I bet one can do it w/o removing the cable, but I thought it was going to be hard and may have to bring the deck out farther. I left the belt on to hold the pulley was the trick. It came off like a dream. Next step was I was going to heat it up but didn't have to. Maybe others who read this could bring their mower to a friends and drop the deck there if they do not have impact. Only took a few minutes to drop the deck and skid it over about a foot so the impact could go on the nut. I first tried a breaker bar before dropping the deck and couldn't stop the pulley no matter how tight I got the belt. With the impact wrench and pulling the belt tight it came off easy. Note it was a 7/8 and not 15/16 in my case and it was regular threads, so lefty-lucy. I hope others who are saying bad words will find this useful.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 8:29PM
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To: Mownie: Doesn't it give ya that warm, fuzzy feeling, when they finally take your or my, or somebody's freely given advbice, and it really does the trick of attaining their objective!?
MMMM! Rusty Jones

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 1:16PM
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To rustyj: Yeah, it is good to know you helped someone through a snag by giving them advice. I hope that my advice is accurate, I have been called to stand in the corner a few times.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 1:27PM
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I just replaced the spindle unit on my Craftsman 42 inch rider the trick is to spray all the bolts with Blaster hit them with a hammer. All I did was put a piece of wood to block my blade from turning used a breaker bar to break the nut on the top of the spindle took it off then took the blade off then took the screws out holding the spindle in place. Installed the new spindle. Did the same on the other side took about an hour to do both sides. Very simple if have any Questions feel free to call me Don at 239-246-3001

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 11:52AM
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It's a regular lefty loosey remember to spray all bolts and nuts with Blaster. Let if sit for 5 mins then hit all the bolts and nuts with hammer to help loosen nuts and bolts. I did not even remove the unit to replace spindles.
Just block the blade with a piece of wood to keep it from turning. You have to really tighten the blade bolt. My star was worn off completely. I used a breaker bar to break the nut on top of the spindle. Took it off then I took the blade off. Next I removed the bolts holding down the spindle. Installed the new spindle. Did the same on the other side. Took about an hour to do both sides. Very easy if anyone has any questions feel free to call me at 239-246-3001

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:10PM
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***"if have any Questions feel free to call me Don at 239-246-3001"***
Is that phone number from the Dominican Republic?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:21PM
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I just discovered that AYP makes a heavy duty line of spindle housings. Refer to Discount Online Parts. The spindle housing on these mowers are the weakest part of the machine. I am going to try one of the HD versions. I have a mound of the regular type (broken) ready to go to the scrsp desler.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 1:14AM
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Be sure you compare ALL the details of the physical dimensions of the spindle housing and the quill shafts between the standard and HD versions that the measurements are an exact match.

I'm just recounting my own experience of trying to find (locally) spindles for my MIL's Troy Bilt deck last year.
I went to several different OPE dealers in my area and more than once was told that the spindle was on hand (but a different brand). Taking the spindle out of the box and doing a direct comparison disclosed differences that would affect either "blade height" or "belt pulley height", or both.

The differences would probably not matter if all three spindles were being replaced, but having one or two out of three would likely be unacceptable.

Just be sure you get a good match.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 11:02AM
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All of these posts have been helpful but I'm still bunked. I'm looking for the schematic for my mower, a Craftsman zero turn zts7500. It used to be on the sears website but my model # won't bring anything up.
The lower pulley on the spindle for the middle blade had come loose from the spindle shaft. Does that require a new spindle assembly or can the pulley wheel be reattached?
If it can be reattached, does the bottom nut on the spindle, above the blade, loosen left or right?
Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 2:46PM
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It may be best to start a new thread hopperman. At least, we will need the specific model # from the tag and even possibly what deck this has. It is likely different deck than described in this thread.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 8:14PM
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hopperman - try this link:

Here is a link that might be useful: 7500 manual

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 9:56PM
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My spindle bolt housing broke off after hitting large rock, and the two other bolt securing housings quickly broke after vibrations. Spindle was completely loose, but I could not get it out of deck because of pulley on one end and the size of the spindle base on the other end. Since this spindle was useless, I had to take a ball-peen hammer to the base of the spindle until enough pieces fell off that it became small enough to fit through the deck hole. After removal, I reattached the blade, put the blade (with spindle now attached) into a large vise, squirted the nut at the pulley with Blaster, and then used a 7/8-inch socket and breaking bar to remove the nut.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 4:31PM
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i have been reading the spindle replacement info and think it might be what i need to do as my steering is wacky.

Both front wheels turn out Would this cause that problem?
Weird driving with one wheel turning, one sliding.
Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Sandra, this thread pertains to a problem with the mowing deck blade system. It is in no way related to your steering problem (in your recently posted thread on your steering problem).

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 12:39PM
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Still need help on this because my star that holds the blade locked in place on the bottom of the spindle is missing. The other pulleys have already been removed so I'm not sure how to use my belt to stop the pulley while I break the nut loose on top. Looks like I'm not the first to be doing this project but wonder if there is any other ways to block the spindle from turning to get the nut loose on top.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Squeeze the belt tight right next to the spindle gripping the pulley. Or have someone w/ an impact wrench and a 7/8'' socket break it loose.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 1:36AM
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mmc95(7 - 8)

Mine is Lt1000 also, top nut off, blade off but cannot get the pulley off. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 8:07PM
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If you can't work the pulley up and down slightly to loosen it, drive the shaft down and the pulley will come loose. If you are reusing the shaft, take steps to protect the threads.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 10:12PM
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