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Mule Drives

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    I just wanted to try to get the pro's and con's from those of you that use/used mowers with mule drives as well as an additional pro's or con's associated with horizontal shaft engines.

    The engine is a 23 hp Kohler Pro matched to a 52" deck which will be used for mulching and maybe even a spindle driven bagger someday!
  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Not even one pro or con?

    I'm falling asleep here :sleeping:
  3. Farmboy

    Farmboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 145

    My bladerunner had one on it. I was told that it would not stand up as good as the belt system used on my gravely260 but it did. I do not see anything wrong with the system.
  4. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,846

    My 332 JD 16 HP Diesel - 50" deck has a mule drive - It is the quietest drive system there is - Has 5000 hrs on it and all is well. - Gear boxes wine and are louder - Do have to admit i revamped the pivots of the mule drive pulleys so they did not wear and rattle though.

    Thanks, Brad
  5. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Humm...So am I just asking a stupid question? I would think more folks would think about this with the various choices available.

    For example - 52" Lazer Z and 52" Lazer Z HP

  6. accuratelawn

    accuratelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 922

    The mule drive belts on my Lazers last 500+ hours.
  7. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,846

    I think MFG's shy away from horizontal - mule drive systems, because the average customer can't figure out how to put a flat belt on, let alone one that makes bends around pulleys. (Not talking about the commercial guys on this site - just the average homeowner that turns the key all summer - sends the mower to the dealer in the winter for its annual oil change, blade sharpening etc.)
  8. weve

    weve LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Central Illinois
    Posts: 381

    I put 870 hours on my first DC diesel with mule drive and never changed a belt. I have 439 hours on my DC XWD2600-60 with Yanmar diesel and have had no problems with this mule drive either.
  9. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    So there's no problem really with belt wear. Is there any power robbed from the deck with this drive setup?

    Maintenance looks a little easier on the H-shaft. The shaft drive to the hydros looks good too. But what about when you need to remove the shroud to cealn the cylinder fins and such? Any trouble there?

    Also is their any difference in engine life between the two shaft setups?
  10. Sam-Ohio

    Sam-Ohio LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 304

    We sell seven different brands of pro riding mowers and also lawn and garden tractors.
    Two of the seven companies use horizontal crank engines to drive a mower pto belt that is twisted around mule drive idlers, on some of their models.

    The other five brands use mostly vertical crank engines and run the pto belt straight from the engine to the mower deck - no mule drive.

    The difference in reliability is huge. By tracking our sales with the store computer, and allowing for the number of sales of each type of power equipment, we have found that a unit with mule drive pto is EIGHT times more likely to break its belt than one with straight belt pto.

    The difference in quality or price of the machines did not seem to have much effect on this either. We have some really low price, light duty units [Snapper rear engine rider] that hardly ever break a belt, and we have high dollar "Z" mowers with the mule drive, and we have some moderately high buck garden tractors with mule drive that will break several [3 or more] in the same summer.

    None of these companies make all their models with with just one system, but I can tell you for sure that any model of any brand that we have experience with that uses the mule drive system will have much , much more belt breakage than the straight system does.

    Boy this spell checker is a great help !!!

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