Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Belts as Good As One

I didn’t make sawdust, but I did kick off some shavings of rubber recently.

My riding lawnmower was in need of some work this season. I charged up the battery, changed the oil, freshened the gas (a little was left from last winter), and checked things over. The tires needed some air and fix a flat, and then it fired up. I was actually a little surprised that it started so easily and it was ready to go.

When my wife engaged the drive belt, nothing happened. I got down and looked at it while she was sitting on it and nothing appeared to move. With a wrench I tapped the belt and saw the drive pulley was spinning, and the belt grabbed, but the lever that pulls over one drive wheel didn’t stretch the belt enough. After 5 or 6 years, I think this was something that needed replacement.

So I got a belt from Lowes, lay down and threaded it back in and started the mower. I made my way around the yard and as I almost completed a loop I started to smell burning and lots of white smoke coming up. At first I thought that the engine was low on oil from a leak, but I disengaged the drive belt and as I was about to turn off the engine, the white smoke stopped.


I pulled back to the garage and checked it and found strings of rubber hanging off and the belt loose. When I pulled the belt off, I noticed that there was one bent piece of metal near a pulley on which the belt had been rubbing. I realized that some pulleys have 1 metal guide to hold the belt on and some have two. Apparently I missed one when I threaded the belt around that pulley.

So it was back to Lowes for another $20 belt, and a pair of pliers with some elbow grease to bent the guide back upright. This time I double checked the threading, ran it for a minute, then checked it again. Things were looking good, so I left it on and my son cut some grass.

$40 and the belt is fixed, and I learned something. But it would have cost me more than that if I wasn’t willing to mess with the mower and took it to Sears to have them look at it. After replacing the starter last year and both blades by removing the deck the year before, I feel like I’m getting to know this beast pretty well.