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Sundstrand hydrostatic transmission

Sundstrand hydrostatic transmission

Cub Cadet, Simplicity, Alles Chalmers, Ariens, and John Deere have garden tractor models that have hydrostatic transmissions. If you have problems with a hydrostatic transmission normally you have to make a decision to:

a: Rebuild it. (somewhat expensive and can be done only if the parts can be found)
b: Replace it. (very expensive and only if the same or compatible transmission can be found) or
c: Get a different garden tractor.

Obviously it’s best if you prevent problems with the hydro transmission before they happen. One of the most common and preventable causes of the hydrostatic transmission failing is pulling/towing the garden tractor. Just don’t do it, not even a short distance. If we need to move a non-running garden tractor around the shop we will even skid the wheels rather than take the chance of ruining a good transmission. We specifically overhaul Sundstrand hydrostatic transmissions, there are other brands. These are a couple of e-mailed questions we have answered about Sundstrand hydrostatic transmissions. It will give you an idea of the symptoms of the hydrostatic transmission failing and a few things to check out before you overhaul or replace it.

Q: I have a question concerning a larger piece of equipment. I have an older Ford front loader with the Sundstrand hydrostatic drive. About a month ago while moving a load of horse manure the unit decided to not move anymore. I called a friend and he guessed that it could be the neutral switch just out of adjustment. Ring any bells for you guys? I don’t know anything about hydrostatic transmissions and am lost!

A: A few recommendations:

1. Check if the driveshaft isn’t stripped and slipping on the transmission.

2. Check the linkage going from your hand or foot control down to the transmission and make sure it did not unhook or fall off.

3. Also check on the arm that hooks on the shaft going into the transmission and make sure it is not slipping.

4. If you have a gear transmission behind your hydro transmission, make sure that it did not jump into neutral.

5. Then, did you check and see if you have a broken axle?

Q: I have a John Deere LX 176 lawn tractor, 38 inch mower deck, with a hydrostatic transmission. It has a few hours on it but is in good condition, with one small exception. It has slowly refused to climb the slope in my front yard. About half way up it simply gives up and makes a shuddering sound. This seems to also be aggravated by temperature. The colder it is the better it works and then as the tractor gets hotter it won’t back up even on a slight incline. I fear the hydro needs rebuilding, do you agree?

A: First check to see if your traction drive belt is not slipping or you have a locked up idler pulley.

Q: I checked both conditions as you suggested and both are to specification. It has a new John Deere belt. The condition as I described it before also gets worse as the temperature of the transmission rises. After an hour of use the speed in both forward and reverse slows with any change in grade. I have had several John Deere riding lawn mowers before and used them on the terrain with no similar results.

A: Yes, I agree, you are correct that your problem is a bad hydrostatic transmission. It looks as though there might be 3 different transmissions, so we need to start with getting the serial number from your lawn tractor. 1-800-618-8738

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John Deere 140 garden tractor

John Deere 140 garden tractor

The John Deere 140, In 1968, was the first hydrostatic garden tractor born to John Deere. It had a 12HP Kohler engine. In 1969 John Deere changed the engine to a 14 HP Kohler. The John Deere 140′s were manufactured with the Sundstrand high gear hydrostatic transmissions up through the serial number 30,000 or 1970. The garden tractors with the serial number 30,001 and above and built in 1971 and newer had the new style Sundstrand transmission. This transmission was used up through all of the John Deere 140′s, ending in 1974. That style hydrostatic transmission was used in all of the John Deere garden tractors including the 120, 140, 300, 312, 314, 316, and 317 ending in 1982.

The John Deere 140 came standard with one hydraulic lever and 2 hydraulic couplers up front. On the 140 H1 John Deere you could special order individual brakes, headlights, and oversize 23×10.50×12 rear tires. Another special order option was the John Deere 140 H3. The H3 came standard with the whole works; triple hydraulics, headlights, individual brakes, and a cigarette lighter. Individual brakes came as a standard option on the 318, 322, 332, 420, and 430 garden tractors and ended as an option in 1992.

I bought my new John Deere 140 H3 garden tractor in November of 1972, making it a 1973 model from J&W Boat and Motor. We bought a JDX8 snowmobile at the same time. We made good use of the “H3” triple hydraulics, as I had the front 54″ blade mounted on the front and bought the optional hydraulic angling kit for it. At the same time I had a John Deere model 33 roto-tiller mounted on the rear, making use of all 3 hydraulic levers simultaneously if I wanted to. One lever is used to raise and lower the blade and has hydraulic down pressure on that same lever, it is built similar to the John Deere farm tractor design. The second lever was used to hydraulically angle the front 54″ push blade from left to right and right to left. The 3rd lever is used to raise and lower the John Deere model 33 roto-tiller. This was a good combination to have together for tearing up and leveling ground. Two hydraulic couplers mounted on the rear of the tractor could be ordered as an option to run a 3 point hitch to use even more attachments.

I personally had a roto-tiller, 49 snowblower, the 48″ mower deck, and a Johnson Workhorse front end loader. Other attachments I’ve had are a sickle bar mower, thatcher with engine mounted vacuum system and trailer, 54 inch front push blade, 54C center blade, 3 point hitch, and integral hitch.

I wish they had come out with an hour meter, it would be interesting to know the great amount of hours on this machine. We use this tractor commercially to run our business. It has gone through three of the 1 cylinder, 14 HP Kohler engines and then in 1988 the Briggs Vanguards came into being. We installed a 14 HP, V Twin, overhead valve, Vanguard engine with an oil filter and oil pump. The repower ended all the engine headaches and this engine is running steady today with many many hours on it. I’m afraid this engine and tractor is going to outlive me! This tractor has been used in tractor pulling since 1973 and basically knew nothing but 1st place for years. I’m proud to let friends and customers try out my 140 to get a feel for the great sturdy tractors and the power of the Vanguard engines. Once in a while I even show off and do some wheelies with it. The price of my 1973 John Deere 140 H3 was $1745. $10,000 today wouldn’t buy you those kinds of options in a new John Deere garden tractor.

I once installed a 3 cylinder Geo engine in a John Deere 140 for garden tractor pulling, if you would like to read about it check out this page: 1-800-618-8738

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