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Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Posted by mtheaded Virginia (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 23, 10 at 9:06

Hi, everyone!

I have a 6 year old Craftsmen Garden Tractor, model 917.275287 and yesterday while mowing, the mower deck disengaged. No weird sounds, no odd smells, etc. I removed the mower deck and all the belts and mandrels are fine (and now, nice and clean!) so it was off to the Internet to search for possible answers when I found Garden Web and this looks like the place to be!

After reading through some of the posts on PTOs and similar problems, I see that the most likely culprit is probably the PTO switch, then maybe the ignition switch (the fuse is fine). I'm thinking about ordering both parts as, at about $50, it's still a lot cheaper (and probably faster) than trying to get it serviced. I don't mind having a few spare parts lying around anyway. Does this make sense? Are there any tests or inspections I should be doing first? I have 5 acres to mow so I can't dilly-dally around too much - just grateful that it did this in August and not May!

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Before you spend $50 dollars on a lottery you may not win, test the wire that feeds the clutch. Test with engine not running. Unplug the wire pigtail from the clutch and check for 12 volts on the wires when the key switch is on and the PTO switch is engaged. Only one of the wires will be hot (the red wire).
If this wire shows 12 volts, plug the pigtail back up and listen for the clutch to click. If the clutch does not click into engagement when the wire pigtail is reconnected
it might indicate a defective clutch.

But, if you can't get 12 volts on the red wire, your PTO switch is the most likely culprit but you still need to check for 12 volts being present at the input side of the PTO switch. The terminal on the PTO switch to check for 12 volts when the key switch is in RUN position is labeled "B".
With the key switch on, you should be able to detect 12 volts at terminal B on the PTO switch. Next, engage the PTO switch, now you should be able to detect 12 volts at PTO switch terminal E.
If you detect 12 volts at B but not at E when the PTO switch is engaged, replace the PTO switch.
If you DO NOT detect 12 volts at terminal B on the PTO switch or at key switch terminal "A1" when the key switch is at RUN position, replace the key switch.

I have included a link to the Sears direct site for your owner's manual.
Click the link to go to the website, then click "view manual" to download it.
I suggest you save a copy to your computer for future offline reference.
The manual includes the wiring diagram for the tractor.
Refer to it when doing the testing above.

Here is a link that might be useful: manual 275287


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Mownie,

Thank you! I will do just that. Unfortunately, it will have to waiytt until the weekend due to my work schedule this week, but I will post again when I check it out. I still have my hard copy manual, but it's nice to have a PDF version, so thanks for the link!


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Mownie,

So I guess I better start with the basics! I assume this is the pigtail to unplug below:
Pigtail
Can you tell me how to unplug this without damaging the wires? I assume it has a catch release or something. Just pulling on it didn't work and I don't want to make matters worse!


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Mownie,

Strike that last post! I had t get under the tractor to get enough leverage to get the pigtail apart. Now on to the next step. I am getting 12 volts from the from the switch red wire and I heard no click when I reconnected the pigtail with the power still on and the PTO switch still engaged. Next I had my wife start the mower and engage and disengage the PTO switch while I watched the pulley under the clutch. It does not spin, but the bolt and shaft it is mounted on spins constantly (PTO switch engaged or not). Does this narrow it down to a bad clutch?


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Yes, that pretty much means the clutch itself is bad.
If it had failed to engage when you tried to use it last time, I would have suggested testing and adjusting the air gap on the clutch.
BUT........you said you were mowing along when the deck quit mowing. That fits a failed clutch or PTO switch, not excessive air gap.

Photobucket


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Mownie pretty well laid it out. When you have exhausted all tests and it comes down to clutch, I have a brand new Warner for $100 plus shipping. Address below for picture and specs, put in proper format and remind me what we are talking about.

Walt Conner
wconner5 at verizon dot net


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Unfortunately, that's what I figured. So, next question: How much trouble to replace myself? Any special tools or access needed? Any directions anywhere on this forum or someplace else? Walt, depending on the answers above I'm probably interested in your clutch. Beats paying Sears over $200 for the same thing!


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Before you remove the clutch, pay close attention to how the clutch is arranged in regard to the "anti-rotation bracket" that keeps the clutch stationary parts from rotating. If you fail to align the new clutch properly with the anti-rotation bracket, it could cause the wires to be ripped out of the clutch the first time you engage the PTO switch. I already know you have a camera, so take some pictures of how the clutch fits into its anti-rotation bracket so you have a reference if needed later.

Unless you have an impact wrench (electric or pneumatic), getting the PTO mounting bolt out (and tightened later) can be a bit challenging.
In lieu of an impact wrench of your own, you may want to try the "poor boy's" impact method as follows:

Safety glasses or goggles should be worn when doing this, or any time you are under the tractor messing around.
Hold a "6-point" boxed end wrench on the PTO mtg bolt with a gloved hand by putting the hand (or just a thumb) over the end of the wrench where the PTO bolt is. DO NOT hold the wrench by its handle end. Take careful aim and smack the free end of the wrench with a hammer, hitting it in the direction to loosen the bolt. Keep the wrench pressed tightly in place on the bolt head when you strike the wrench. When the bolt has loosened, you can spin it out with the wrench or your fingers.
BEWARE! The clutch is fairly heavy and if you are not careful you might get a surprise when the last thread of the bolt is turned.
When mounting the new clutch, use the same "wrench & hammer" technique to secure the mounting bolt.

Or......ask a friend to use his impact wrench.

A third option is that you could remove the "fan & flywheel" cover from the top of the engine and hold the large flywheel mounting nut to keep the engine from turning when you loosen and tighten the clutch bolt, but that means it will be a 2 person job, and with bigger tools needed. I don't know if you have the tool or personnel resources.


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

"BEWARE! The clutch is fairly heavy and if you are not careful you might get a surprise when the last thread of the bolt is turned."

OR if your are even more unlucky, the clutch may have grown fast to the crankshaft.

You can hold the engine from turning by removing the spark plug and threading in a ft. or so of 1/4" or so nylon rope making sure to turn the engine where the valves are closed first.

Walt Conner


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Well, I don't have an impact wrench, but the price difference in buying Walt's clutch would be enough to pay for one! Doesn't sound TOO awful with an impact wrench but certainly nothing I've tried before. The 'poor boy's' method sounds like quite the knuckle buster but it wouldn't be the first time for me. So the entire unit is held in by the single bolt?

Yes, I do have a camera and learned to use it often when messing around in the garage. Saved my butt when I rebuilt a carburetor and tried to remember how to get it back on the snow blower!

I'm checking with Walt on the clutch and that'll give me time to decide if I want to take it on myself or get someone else with the right tools to do it. I also don't have anything to jack up the tractor on. Do you think I can do this without getting it up in the air?


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

"Do you think I can do this without getting it up in the air?"

Yeah, but easier if front of mower lifted a ft. or so.
Since my clutch wouldn't fit, check on eBay, SOMETIMES there are good prices on clutches there, sometimes not.

Walt Conner


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

All done!

Actually, it was a piece of cake. I didn't need an impact wrench at all but I did borrow a set of ramps from a buddy and that made putting the clutch back on a little easier. I used the third option suggested by Mownie and just had my wife hold the flywheel with a wedge while I loosened the bolt. It came off very easily and took just a few minutes to swap the old one for the new one. While I had it part I replaced the drive belt too and that actually took longer than swapping out the clutch!

Another benefit was I found an online source for parts for my tractor that runs about 30-50% less than what Sears charges. I can't believe how much I could have saved over the last 6 years on maintenance parts alone!

Thanks so much, Mownie and Walt! The repair was minor but I might not have tried it without the confidence provided by being able to 'consult' with you guys when I had a question.


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

***" I might not have tried it without the confidence provided by being able to 'consult' with you guys when I had a question."***
Always glad to help and always glad to hear of success in solving the problem. Thanks for the update.


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Here's my situation similar to the thread above followed by my plead for guidance.
I have a Craftsman model 917.273221 Garden Tractor.
The PTO is not working. I have 2.4 ohms of resistance across the clutch on the clutch pigtail. I am not getting 12v from the red wire coming from the PTO switch where it connects to the clutch pigtail. it seems to vary but at most I get 4v from that red wire when the key is in the on position and the PTO switch is pulled out (on). I am getting 12.57v at the B terminal of the PTO switch when the key is in run and the PTO switch is off. I also get 12.57v on the E terminal of the PTO switch with the key in run position and the PTO switch on (pulled out). Where am I loosing my voltage from the PTO switch to the pigtail that plugs into the clutch? What can I test next? Thanks!


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RE: Possible Craftsman PTO Problem

Don't know where you would be "losing" the voltage to the PTO pigtail, BUT-

The ground circuit for the PTO is switched.through the Operator Presence Relay.
The ground lead connects to pin 87.
Pin 87 is switched to ground when the seat switch is closed (occupied) and 12V delivered to pin 85 of the relay.

You might check to see if the ground lead of the PTO pigtail is being grounded when the seat switch is operated.
(Key & PTO ON)


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