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How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Posted by BriggsGalaxieman 10 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 17, 11 at 10:00

I have a Craftsman GT5000. The front wheel and axle look like this:

Photobucket

Most other tractors have a similar setup.

The ‘problem’ with my tractor is that the wheels seem to have excessive ‘endplay’. The wheels can move back and forth on the axles at least 1/4 inch. They are assembled properly with two thrust washers on the inside of the wheel and one on the outside. There is no wear on any of the components. This excessive ‘endplay’ naturally adds to a sloppy feeling in the steering.

My questions:

Is this much endplay normal and, if so, is there an engineering reason for so much endplay?

Does the endplay, possibly, make it easier for the axle grease to spread out between the axle and bearing?

Would it do any harm to add thrust washers sufficient to eliminate most of the endplay?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Do the wheels have plastic bushings or caged bearings?

If plastic bushings I submit that there is wear. I might go as far as having bronze bushings made to replace the plastic ones if it were my tractor.

I have not seen a spec for end play but I would add thrust washers to reduce, but not eliminate the end play. Then, if you have adjustable steering links, adjust the toe in to specification.

IMO 1/4" is FAR too much end play.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

justalurker,

Each rim has two 'brass' bearing/bushings like this:

Photobucket

They are in good condition.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Since you have the brass bushings OEM I'd order one new one and measure the flange thickness to compare to the installed ones then shim to reduce that 1/4" to a more reasonable end float. There is no sound engineering reason for 1/4" end float esp3cially at LT-GT speeds.

My JD X500 has caged bearings and just a slight amount of end float.

The Sears GTs I've owned have always had sloppy tolerances ESPECIALLY in the steering gear.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

BGM, you see that collar looking thing on the axle stub?
That is a sort of debris shield that also serves as the hub stop.
Those are sometimes just a pressed and staked fit. If so, it may have worked loose and is receding.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Mownie, good idea.....

I checked both of the collars on the axle stubs. They look just like the picture above and are made of a heavy gage steel. They are welded securely in place, not bent, not receded or worn at all.

Another possibility would be that the end of the brass bushings was worn. I have a new bushing and the collar looks to be the same thickness. In fact, there is a groove molded into the end of the bushing that is about .020 inch deep. That groove can serve as a wear indicator. Mine look the same as on a new bushing.

I added thrust washers to eliminate the endplay. Each wheel needed three additional thrust washers. Now, the endplay is very small.

But, I surely don't understand where all the endplay 'came from'.....


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

OK, if welded they are better than some cheap stuff I have seen elsewhere.
I don't have any other ideas where all that extra end play arose.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Don't want to pile on Sears but that is the level of engineering and attention to detail that we get at that price point along with steering links that are not adjustable and custom engine configurations that are featured down to meet a price point.

They who want more can pay more and get more.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Go ahead and pile on...Sears deserves it....

As I work my way through the sloppy steering on my latest 'Craftsman' (you have to be a 'craftsman' to keep it running) there are many more penny saving (customer enraging) designs...

For instance, the steering column and steering sector gear 'bearings' are nothing more than thin plastic bushings that are guaranteed to wear out in less than a year. The GT5000 steering column and sector gear has no less than 4 of these plastic 'bearings'....


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

It used to be a "conspiracy of planned obsolescence" theory.
I think the theory has been "proved to be true without a doubt".
I think it has been lately referred to as "price point engineering".
Same concept.....different euphemism.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Mownie,

interesting theory. I think reduced manufacturing cost was a side benefit of planned obsolescence.

No need to worry about that when, instead, you engineer it for a sufficiently low price.

I Have a theory on this topic. For many years you got a better product if you paid more. Then it go that all higher price was giving you was a "brand name". At some point people caught on and stopped paying more because they did not believe it was getting them a better product. Since then it has become a race to the bottom. Buyers no longer believe "you get what you pay for". Given that sense of skepticism no one is willing to take the risk of paying more. It becomes a self-fullfilling prophesy, one of the reasonb Toro stopped making the "classic series" Wheel Horses.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

"price point engineering" or you get what you pay for as our parents told us.

A dollar's worth for a dollar is the best deal you can get. Some people want to pay 75 cents and get a dollar's worth but end up paying 75 cents and getting 50 cents worth. What a deal!

All we can do is vote with our wallets.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

The sintered bushings that these use work fine for many years- that is until the dust cap is not reinstalled and excessive dirt gets in them. Side to side play is actually good for longevity. Keep them capped / lubed and you will have no issue. Deere uses the same bushing on their lower end models. Actually, several EHP changes that were made such as the improved steering sector, cast front axles (that don't break like the L series) and an improved 4 bolt deck spindles were great upgrades for the price point. Then of course , Sears then changed the base models to MTD...


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

"For many years you got a better product if you paid more. Then it go that all higher price was giving you was a "brand name". At some point people caught on and stopped paying more because they did not believe it was getting them a better product"

What people believe is as usual not true.

All one needs to do is look at the JD X500 garden tractor and notice the higher quality Kawasaki engine, the caged ball bearings in the front wheels, serviceable K72 TT transaxle with diff lock, adjustable steering links,higher quality tires, precise steering, and a 4 year warranty... now look at a Sears garden tractor. You want more, pay more and get it.

As I said above... "they who want more can pay more and get more" whether they realize it or not. If they are informed consumers and do their homework they get what they want... if they read Consumer Reports they get what they are told to buy.

I don't miss the classic Wheel Horses at all but I do miss the late, great, xi series... what garden tractors they were...


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

for the diff between 5.5k and 2.7k, surely would want a LOT of "better".


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

And having bought both... I can tell you that you get lots of better along with resale value.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Yes Lurker, those XI's were sweet. Dualies and Quickway loaders dress them up nicely! The piles of Cubs from Lowes, Deeres outta Depot and stacks of Craftsman tractors seem to take care of the lawn cutters of the area. People that may have had an old LX series Era Deere that go to the L / D series know that they traded down after a while. X series seems pretty well received by the folks that get out of their old Deere.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Just for a minute, let me get back to the question of endplay....

With 1/4 inch of endplay of the wheels on the axles, it seems that every time one turns from right to left or back again, the chassis of the mower will literally slide a quarter inch one way or the other before any 'turning' can occur. That cannot be good and only contribute to a less firm feeling in the steering.

Would the sintered brass bushings work better with more endplay? I don't think so, because the bushings are really designed to 'grease' rotary motion, not lateral motion along the axle. It seems, to me, that the bushings would wear more with a lot of endplay.

Removing ALL of the endplay cannot be good thing. If there is no endplay there will be no room for thermal expansion. The wheels certainly get warm with the load and rotary motion. Add to that heating from the nearby hot engine and muffler exhaust and there is probably a measurable expansion of the wheel assembly and therefore less endplay with use.

So, for now, I have settled on a small amount of endplay (about 1/32 inch when cold).


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

End play (float) is necessary but not 1/4". With that much float the toe in will change through the steering rotation and the bushings will wear prematurely or crack the flange.

It's just like the front end wheel bearings on a car without the load and the speed and temperatures that speed introduces.

1/32" = .03125" that's a good guess and I'd be happy with that. Grease routinely if there are Zerks on the wheels and once in a while jack up the front and spin the wheels for a smooth feel and check the end float to see that it hasn't measurably increased.


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RE: How Much Front Wheel Endplay?

Grease frequently.....Yes I grease through the Zerks when I do my regular oil changes (every 25 hours). I use an air powered grease gun and pump until the grease begins to ooze out both sides of the wheel/axle assembly. These designs 'live' on grease, so I use plenty.


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