Craftsman electric clutch problem 07-23-2013
I have a craftsman model 917.272420 with an 18 hp Kohler engine. It is about 11 years old. I was mowing and smelled some rubber burning. I thought it was a belt, but it was not. I noticed some smoke from the top of the electric clutch and a small piece of rubber sticking out from the top. It looked like some type of seal had broken and lifted up. I poked at it with a screwdriver to position it for grabbing with pliers, but it slipped back into a groove (?) between the clutch and the shaft that comes down from the engine. I started it back up and there was no more burning smell. I engaged the clutch and things were okay. As I mowed, I had to disengage the clutch for a minute and when I reengaged the PTO switch, nothing happened. It also seems like the PTO switch has lost some of its "click." The engine runs fine and the mower moves fine, but there is no cutting. I am about to spring for $100 for a clutch and another $18 for a PTO switch (I am not shopping at Sear's rip off parts direct having recently paid $400 for an on-site carb replacement by them). Any specific directions on troubleshooting and especially on removing and installing a clutch would be appreciated. If you suggest electrical troubleshooting, I can do it, but the PTO switch has about five wires connected to it so I need explicit info. I have the manual and it shows the red wire from the PTO powering the clutch and a separate wire connected to "operator presence relay #1" but no color reference. I've read other posts here on running power to the clutch from the battery to bypass the relays but it seems a little tricky. Any clutch work comes only after removing the deck and its drive belt! Thanks.