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Mower Belt Won't Engage

Craftsman 20 hp 42'' riding mower model 917.272911. Mower blades don't engage. Hand clutch seems okay - notice extra tension on belt when engaged, so the wire is intact. Sure the belt seems 'loosish' but it is tracked correctly and not off any of the pulleys. I can move the belt by hand and all the pulleys spin normally. Perhaps the belt stretches with age? Perhaps there is a 'tension or clutch spring' that I am not seeing. Should I remove the mower deck and then re-install, ensuring that all the springs are reset? Should I buy a new belt on the premise that belts stretch?

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  • Kenny Suchet Sep 26, 2009

    Belt is precisely 1/2"

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The fact is that belts don't stretch. They wear down on the sides, causing them to ride deeper in the pulleys and they APPEAR to be longer. Check belt "width" to see if it is less than one half inch. Most craftsman riders use half-inch (AKA: "A section") belts.

Posted on Sep 26, 2009

Testimonial: "I removed the mower & checked everything - pulleys, bearings, mandrells, springs. All OK. Re-assembled and it works again. Thanks for your feedback."

  • Daren Ingold
    Daren Ingold Sep 28, 2009

    The proper AYP (American Yard Products) part number for this belt is 144959 and is a VERY popular part in the outdoor power equipment world. The going rate seems to be $34.95 and it might be fruitless to throw that money at it without being certain that it's the fix you need.

    To see an illustrated parts breakdown of your ENTIRE machine, click here.

    On the left of the page, under the heading "Browse Subcomponents" you will find the link to the mower deck section. Be certain the engaging rod and movable idler pulley (the tensioning side) are not worn and sloppy which reduces travel during engagement and therefore will not properly tension the belt. Hope this helps!

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