Craftsman Tractor Steering Replacement Question

dsearfassApril 29, 2008

Craftsman Tractor Model# 917.256580

The steering on my tractor is slipping to the point that I almost can't steer anymore so I've decided to embark on replacing the steering assembly. I've bought the entire unit pre-assembled (#167905) and now I need to figure out how to get the old one out, and the new one in. Does anyone have any experience and/or advice before I start tearing things apart that I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to put back together? :0 Any help is greatly appreciated. If more info is needed please let me know and I will gladly supply it. Thanks for taking the time to read this.


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If you have done any type of mechanical work--go ahead and try it! BUT!! If you do not have any more tools than a hammer, broken screw-driver, and a crescent wrench--forget it, and pay somebody to do it!
You will, in all probability, have to remove the steering wheel, the nut at the bottom of the steering shaft, that is below the gears that turn when you turn the steering wheel. And also remove any tin covers that keep you from getting your hand-s in there to work on it. The "horn" button in the wheel prys out, usually. The wheel is held onto the shaft with a locking nut and washer. There usually is an aluminum thing that looks like a gear wheel, that the steering wheel sets on, and that has to come off.
at this point, the steering shaft can be worked out of its place where it belongs, and with some judicious wiggling, it will come out. There should be a bracket near the top of the steering shaft, but behind the dash board, with several bolts holding it in place. Take those bolts out, too.
Since you probably got the lower gears too, the tie rod that goes to the lower gear must be removed. The inner sector gear is held on by 2 bolts thru a bracket. The worm is held onto the steering post with the nut mentioned before.
By the time you get into the job, and find out you must have arms like snakes, and the patience of Job, you'll probably wonder why you ever started on it!
Have fun and enjoy the fruits of your labors!
I want you to understand that these instructions are general in nature! You might find things a bit different when you get into the job. The one i did was the silver model, so yours might be a bit different! Hope this helps!
Rusty J.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 5:09PM
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Rusty has a point about whether or not you consider yourself mechanical or not being a good qualifier. Kudos for getting the sector assy. That's the only way. Yep- steering wheel, adapter, draglink come off. Pulling the deck will make it easier. If I remember correctly, deciding on how best to deal with the upper bushing is really the hardest part. Have fun. Count the cuts on your hands before and after and give us count. . . :)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 6:25PM
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This manual isn't exactly your tractor, but it has a much sharper picture than the Sears site and the part REFERENCE numbers are the same. Actual part numbers are different.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 4:59AM
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Thanks for the replies! I have a pretty good set of tools so I think I'm going to go for it. I just looked at it again yesterday and boy is it tight in there you guys are right. Bill, thanks for the manual. The pictures are definitely much clearer. I'm going to pring that along with the rest of replies and have them by my side during the "operation". I hope I can get it apart and back together, it sure would be nice to be able to steer again!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 1:28PM
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Done! And not nearly as bad as I was expecting. Just a brief follow-up DIY for anyone that reads this and is thinking about doing it.

I'm doing this from memory so ... I may miss a thing here or there. I'll try to break this down into a few parts. Removing the steering wheel. Removing the dash. Removing what I'll refer to as the battery tray. Removing the steering assembly. Installing the new assembly.

What you'll need:
New steering assembly
Socket set
10" extension for your socket set (not required but it will make things much easier)
Small hands
Around 4-5 hours of time, maybe more, maybe less. But I think this is a good guess.

Ok step 1 removing the wheel. Pretty easy. Remove the center cover of the wheel. This should just snap off. There is one nut holding the wheel on. Remove this. Remove the wheel. We're off to a good start haha. Under the wheel will be a metal bushing. This will need to come off. It may come off easy, it may require banging it with a hammer. But it should come up and off.

Step 2 remove the battery. Disconnect the negative terminal first. Then the positive. Take the battery out. There is a little tray that captures battery run-off that the battery sets on, remove this as well. There is a little tube attached to the bottom, just disconnect and set aside.

Step 3 removing the dash. Not too bad either. You may want to take some pictures of where all the wires go or label them with duct tape prior to removal. This will make things easier when putting everything back together. Remove the two wires running to the amp meter. Remove the two wires running to the light switch. There are two bolts holding the throttle on, remove these. Remove the little ball on top of the blade switch .. this just screws off. And remove the plug running to the key switch. Now, there are 4 bolts (2 on each side) holding the dash to the mower. Identify these and remove. Pull the dash off and set aside.

Step 4. Removing the battery tray. No, not the runoff tray that was too easy. The battery tray is held on by I belive 6 bolts (3 on each side) possibly 8 I don't recall. Identify and remove. Now, the blade height knob needs to be disconnected. Before doing this, ensure the blade is pulled up using the blade lever? The lever on the left hand side which you can pull the blade up with. Now, follow the blade knob. There is a spring, and then it screws into something. You'll see what I mean. On the very end of the knob, past the part it screws into there is a pin to prevent you from unscrewing it completely. This needs to be removed. I straightened and then removed mine with a needle nose. This will take a little patience but it will come out. Just make sure not to drop it once you get it out. Now, you can unscrew the blade knob until it comes out. It won't come out of the battery tray and it doesn't need to, it just needs to be unscrewed. Hope this makes sense. Next, there is an electrical cable which will prevent you from removing the tray. This gave me the most trouble. You need to get enough slack in the cable so you can manuever it around the tray, yes this can be done. To do this I first disconnected the cable from the headlight in the front of the hood. Next I disconnected a few wires right where the positive battery wire comes out. There was a very small red wire which I disconnected. And two small wires with clips that I removed. You'll just have to find these, I can't explain where they go. All I can tell you is it's right by where the positive battery wire connects to the tractor. Now, you should be able to get enough slack to get the tray out.

Step 5. Hopefully you've gotten the tray out and now should be staring face to face with the steering assembly. The assembly is held onto the base of the tractor by 4 bolts. This is where the 10" extension will make life easier. But first, disconnect the assembly from the rod that runs to the wheels. Again, unsure of the name but you can't miss it. There is a metal lever that runs out the bottom of the assembly and to the rod. This is held onto the rod by a nut and washer. Remove. This is where the small hands will come into play. Next, remove the 4 bolts holding the assembly to the tractor. Now, with some play, you should be able to slide the assembly off of the rod that runs to the wheels and off of the tractor.

Step 6. Install the new steering assembly. Before attaching the assembly to the tractor, attach the lever to the rod that goes to the wheels with washer and nut. Next, fasten the assembly to the tractor with the 4 bolts. Make these as tight as you can. In the event they come lose, I don't think there is anyway to tighten them without completely removing the dash and tray again. Position the steering column so that you'll be able to slide the tray on.

Step 7. Re-intall the tray. Slide it down the steering column, put the electrical cables back where they belong. Re-attach the little red wire, and the two other wires which were disconnected. Re-attach the blade height adjustment knob. Reinstall the pin on the end of the knob. Re-attach the bolts.

Step 8. Re-install the dash. Re-attach the plug for the key/ignition. Re-attach the amp meter. Re-attach the light switch. Re-attach the throttle. Screw the knob back onto the blade engage switch. Re-attach the bolts that hold the dash on.

Step 9. Attach the battery.

Step 10. Attach the wheel.

Step 11. Enjoy your tractor!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 2:05PM
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Glad to hear that you fixed it! And, you found out what i meant when i said you needed rubber arms to get inside the dash area! The one i did, i didn't have to take off the dash assembly, since i only replaced the steering wheel shaft, but it wasn't easy. Patience is the key to all of this kind of work.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 4:21PM
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... and two more things.

One ...
Cuts on hands before: 0 (I'm spoiled, I work in IT)
Cuts on hands after: a lot haha

The 4 holes on the base of the replacement assembly were too small so they needed to be drilled to the proper width (3/8 I think it was).

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 5:03PM
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