I think I got my old Lazer back

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Keith, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,977

    Well, the mower never really went anywhere, but I think it is cutting like it used to.

    About 16 months ago I had to replace the mule belt. It was only the second time I've had to do it. I looked up my part number and off to the closest Exmark dealer to get one. I found out that they no longer made this belt. My mower had gotten stuck in a window of 30,000 serial numbers that used a unique belt. Apparently it was decided not to service this part number anymore. The new belt was sold as a "kit." All the kit was, was a belt with instructions of how to make it fit.

    The new belt 103-4092 was a little longer than my 103-3097. The instructions required you to basically extend the deck struts by turning out the spherical rod ends to achieve this. Let me first say this was one hell of a belt install. The three year old rod ends did not want to turn easily, requiring me to take them off the deck in order to do it. I think in all, I probably spent a couple of hours on it. But it was done, and in the future belt changes would be just like they were before. The new belt was supposed to give greater adjustability and should wear longer.

    Less than a month later the grass really took off. The 90+ degree days, regular rains and night time lows in the upper 70's make St. Augustine thicken to a dense mat that grows upwards of 6" a week. I noticed the mower was not cutting so well. It appeared to be leaving strips directly behind the front caster wheela and stringers over the whole width. I started really looking at the deck and noticed that the deck chains were no longer hanging straight down, but rather they were pushed forward. The deck also looked a lot closer to the casters than they should be. But I lived with it. When I used it in most thick lawns it required double cutting a lot of the grass to leave an acceptable finished cut. By late October the grass slows greatly and this double cutting was no longer needed on most lawns. To tell you the truth, I let it slide and kind of forgot about it. That's the "out of sight, out of mind" thing at work.

    Then around May, the belt I installed last summer broke with probably only 200 hours on it. So much for the longer life the new belt was supposed to give. But I replaced it with the same Exmark belt that had just broke. The heavy growth was late this year, not arriving until almost July. But when it did I quickly remembered that I had forgotten to find a solution over the winter when I should have. It seemed like it cut even worse than last year. Everything had to be double cut, and this was not the norm for this mower in the first three years that I had it. It always cut level and left a nice finished product.

    I finally got tired of it and decided I would go back in the direction I came from, rather than trying to work around it. I needed to find a 115" belt to match the original and get the struts back where they were. I finally found a Scag part number that looked like it would work. I ordered an Oregon aftermarket of this belt from Travis at TMP. I noticed the rod ends on the struts were again going to be impossible to turn in while on the mower. I took them off, actually used the trailer to brace them, and with a 2 foot pipe got one turned in, with a great deal of effort. The second one, I wasn't so fortunate. I wrenched the rod end right off in the strut :hammerhead:

    I ordered replacement struts, rod ends and pins from J Thomas. They came in on Wednesday and by this point the mower had been out of service for almost a week. I went to put them on, but it was a no go. I think they are sourcing the struts from China and the tolerances just were not close enough. If you put the right strut on, it shifted the deck so far to the left than it was impossible to install the left one. It looked as if they were 3/8" or more off. So I was back to Exmark for parts. We don't have a dealer anywhere really nearby so I ordered them from Brodner's. When I looked up the part number for the struts I noticed that it had changed. Exmark confirmed it was the same part, only black in color. I was pleasantly surprised to find they were a good deal cheaper than the original and even quite a bit cheaper than J Thomas' replacement parts.

    So after about two weeks, I finally had my parts to fix it. The struts went on without problem. The Scag belt fit perfectly. And most importantly, it seemed to cut right. We have had a lot of rain, and only 5 days out of the past 60 have been below 90 degress, so it's still growing like crazy. It cut everything I could throw at it for four days without issue, so I am pretty certain it's fixed.

    Sorry to write a book here, but I thought it would express my point better. This was just a belt! A belt that broke from wear, but was no longer made. My thoughts are that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. This was one heck of a ride for something that should have been a 20 minute fix. I don't blame Exmark for trying to keep parts that dealers need to have to a minimum, but I think just keeping this one would have saved a lot of headaches.
     
  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Holy crap.... what an ordeal over a belt.

    Glad you finally found out another way to make it work, and work right.
     
  3. Nosmo

    Nosmo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,216

    What a BOS to go through to get a belt to work. Just in case anyone else winds up with this problem getting a belt here are a couple of options. Tractor Supply can match several hundred types and if you have an Allied Bearing business in your area they handle many belts.

    Nosmo
     

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