My front wheels sit tilted on my Craftsman 917.272059 lawn tractor. I am thinking it is the flange bearings that need replacing. If so, what is the best way to get the old ones out and the new ones in?
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before you change anything, lift the whole front end off the ground and check the wheel bearings and the suspension bushings for slop. you cannot align it if there is slop in the system and those cheap plastic wheel bearings are usually the culprit. if the bearings are bad, replace both sides and you can buy new front wheels at small engine repair shops, lowes, menards, DIY. if the knuckle bearings are bad, then a sears parts location or a small engine repair shop is the place to be. and from time to time an entire knuckle is bent from where a woman hit something with it.
if there is no slop, then acquire an owners manual from sears, google it, and there will be instructions on how to align. very simple lock nut on a threaded rod type of task. not rocket science.
hello qp..... the belt is slipping because it is old and stretched. Replace it and you will be good to go. Regarding the deck... you must drop it in order to replace the belt. look under the tractor to see how the deck attaches. do this on a level spot so the tractor won't roll. generally you begin by undoing the belt from the drive wheel in the front and then dropping the front by releasing the mechanism that holds it in place.
there is a key keeping the wheel and axle in sync. make sure this did not fall to the ground when you removed the wheel. fits in the slot on axle and wheel. if you lost it you can buy another at a small engine parts store. another possible problem is that you slid the wheel on backwards and it is rubbing against the mower frame.
The wheels usually have a rubber cover in the center, remove that and there is an e-clip that can be removed with a flat blade screw driver, or pliers. The axle beam, spindles and wheels can all be serviced separately.
I've noticed this on other Craftsman and MTD mowers. The ones with the one main steering rod from the steering wheel to the left wheel and a connecting rod from the left wheel to the right wheel. I think that since we are advised to mow in a counter-clockwise direction, they design the mowers to turn tighter towards the left. It's in the design just like you suspected.
You can get replacement wheels from most decent hardware stores, either with ball race bearings, or just plain old plastic bushes. they don't cost much, I would take in my old wheel to get one that fits.
But before you go buying spares for the mower... you should read this