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Had the same problem with my MTD Yard Machines 5 horse tiller. I called MTD at 800-800-7310 and with the model and serial and such off the engine - which are stamped into it - a nice lady was able to narrow down my tiller year. From there with horsepower details she narrowed further to one of two models that I could look up on the MTD corporate home page and get a schematic.
Hope that helps.
click this link directly Customer Service Phone Center Hours are from8:00 To 4:00Mon. thru Fri. (Central Time) Click Here To See "US" If You Are Ready To Order, And Need Assistance, Please Call: Toll Free 1-877-70-PARTS (Orders Only Please)
either your tine shaft is seized to bushings which requires total dissassembly of unit or you have a failure of drive chain or gear i'm currently repairing one with the seized bushings if you are not a technician i would recomend replaceing unit very costly to repair in any case.
I found micro fiche on jackssmallengines.com . Click on the manufacturer's tab at the top of the page then you'll have the option to use an off-site tool to locate your machine. I used it and found my 1990 mtd rear tine tiller. I needed the cable that engages the tines - maybe the same as you. The part number for my 1990 model's cable was 746-0535. Dont know if it was still the same in 96 to 98. But look at the fiche and see.
the tines are usually connected with shear bolts designed to break away when u hit something as a safety precaution so that u dont break anything in the transmission. its common that people dont know this and replace them with normal bolts. if this was done and the tines are not moving now chances are uve got a snapped gear shaft