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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

First day on forum. Forgive me if this is the wrong place for my post or it has already been addressed (although I couldn't find it).

I have a Yard Machines (MTD) 611 series 24" Snow Blower Model #31AS611E352

Just replaced (from MTD directly):
1. 712-0116 Lock Jam Nut 3/8-24
2. 756-0178 Flat Idler
3. 784-5632B Auger Idler Arm
4. 710-0459A Hex Cap Screw 3/8-24 x 1.50
5. 738-0281 Shoulder Screw
6. 736-0167 Wave Washer
7. 732-0611 Extension Spring

And got a new 731-1324 Belt Cover (which I modified, because I am tired of having to buy a new one every time a belt breaks). FYI: When the belt breaks, it cuts a long hole through the top since it is cheaply made of soft plastic. So I got a piece of sheet metal and cut it to fit inside the cover so that the next time the Auger Belt breaks, the cover won't get ruined (see attached). I also think it will keep the belt from falling off as often.

Anyway, back to why I am on here in the first place.

I have read a lot of stuff both on this forum and in Google searches about getting the Auger Idler Tension Pulley adjusted properly. However, these all seem to address whether the pulley is too tight or too loose, which generally gets fixed by getting a new un-stretched Auger belt or adjusting the cable's tension, so that it is loose enough to not turn the Augers when not engaged, and tight enough to turn the Augers properly when the handle is down and the Idler Tension Pulley is engaged against the belt.

My problem is that when the handle is down fully engaging the Idler Tension Pulley against the belt, it seems to be too tight and the belt actually starts smoking. Which I assume is not good and will quickly wear out the new belt.

Here's the difference: The belt is brand new along with the other parts that I mentioned above. The cable is properly adjusted so that the Auger doesn't turn at all when disengaged, but starts the Auger great once engaged.
The problem however is that the movement (or swing) towards the belt is too much if the handle is pressed more then slightly down, and smokes the belt more and more the more the handle is flattened. I literally have to loosen the cable all the way so that it has a couple of inches of play in it so that it doesn't tighten the pulley until the handle is almost all the way down. Which is obviously not good as the cable might fall off or get damaged just hanging like that.

So my question is, how can I regulate the amount of movement that the Auger Idler Tension Pulley is allowed to move, so that it doesn't continue to press any harder against the belt and stops once the belt is tight enough.
Is there a "stop" or other adjustment that will prevent it from moving such a big distance when engaged?

BTW: There are 2 holes on the new Auger Idler Arm that can be used and I have it in the outer one which would allow it to move close to the belt the least.
 

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Perhaps you could post some pictures of the belt, idler and pulley assembly. That's where the problems are and maybe somebody will see something out of the ordinary or misplaced.

The cover photos are not much help, but that fact that you go thru that many belts and the blow the cover apart when they go leads me to believe something is put together wrong in that machine, maybe from day 1
 

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One other question, are you replacing the belt with an OEM or equivilent belt, of something else?

Snowblower and other power equipment belts are not the same as automotive belts.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I find that the OEM Belts are not very strong, so this time I got Pix Snow Blower Belts made with Kevlar replaces MTD Belt 754-0430A, 954-0430B. They claim to be stronger?
 

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I find that the OEM Belts are not very strong, so this time I got Pix Snow Blower Belts made with Kevlar replaces MTD Belt 754-0430A, 954-0430B. They claim to be stronger?
I dunno about Pix belts. They are made in India. Are you sure they are Kevlar? Does your machine have dual auger belts, seems I saw a picture showing two belts for auger replacement. Did you MTD belts smoke or just break?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Honestly I don't know if the OEM's smoked or not since they were always covered before they broke. However, I have replaced at least one per year when using them.

Regarding the Kevlar Belts, it says it is, so I can only hope that they are being truthful. They actually are cheaper then OEM, so I figured it was worth the try.

Here are the images that you requested.
 

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I have found out the hard way that belt alignment in critical. First, check that the engine mount bolts are tight. then look at the pulley alignment when you have the drive lever engaged. That way you can see the belts tension and alignment when it's in operational mode. It needs to be straight and have decent tension on it. If you need to loosen up the motor mount bolts and adjust them accordingly. Having belts that are designed for th machine is critical since they must be able to hold up to pressure in 2 directions (against the tensioner as well as the pulleys)

Test it by running it without the cover on and watch it - then stop it and feel for heat on the belt right way...... shouldn't' be overly hot
 

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Does the driven pulley turn over by hand fairly easily? Are the pulleys lined up? they cannot be out of line more than 1/16" of an inch. The idler / pressure pulleys must be inline also.
Sid
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, after replacing the Idle Pulley and it's parts, everything looks good. It seems to be working good as well as long as I don't pull the Auger Handle down all the way. Then it starts to smoke.

The only fix so far is to leave the belt so loose as not to have it engage the Idle Pulley too tight against the belt. Other then that, it seems o be working fine so far.
 

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Does the driven pulley turn over by hand fairly easily?


I agree with Sid. Are you sure there is no extra drag on the auger belt because of a bad bearing(s) on the auger or impeller shafts? Have you tried spinning the impeller with the belt off and check for resistance ( remove spark plug wire for safety)? The belt shouldn't smoke with tension on it unless something is amiss with the auger\impeller. Feathering the drive handle to stop the smoking is just allowing the drive belt to slip and burn into the belt. It looks like you actually have to much slack in the auger belt the way it is adjusted now.
 

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Honestly I don't know if the OEM's smoked or not since they were always covered before they broke. However, I have replaced at least one per year when using them.

Regarding the Kevlar Belts, it says it is, so I can only hope that they are being truthful. They actually are cheaper then OEM, so I figured it was worth the try.

Here are the images that you requested.
Is that new idler pulley the same diameter and width as the old one was? Like others have said, the drive pulley and the driven pulley must be in line with each other when running. If they are out of line, there may be a large amount of friction being generated, = heat = smoke.

It would be safer to check this out by splitting the machine and then you can really check what goes on with the front end mechanicals.

With the spark plug disconnected, is there any back to front slop in the impeller shaft, like from the gearbox backward to the impeller pulley which the belt rides on? What about side or up/down slop in the impeller pulley at the back where the bearing hides behind the pulley. Any grinding or grating sounds if you turn the pulley manually, or is it difficult to turn? Have you checked the impeller gearbox to see if its full or oil or whatever lubricant is supposed to be in it?

Same question for the auger bushings on the ends of the bucket. Does everything run reasonably straight and true, or is there side play.
 

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I just re looked at the pictures, are the belts rubbing on other parts near the pulleys ?
It might be an illusion, but it sure looks that way.
Sid
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I was just thinking.

Do you think that this might get more people who have experienced this issue to share their experiences if this was in "Snowblower Repairs and Maintenance Forum" instead of in Yard Machines Forum?
 

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I just re looked at the pictures, are the belts rubbing on other parts near the pulleys ?
It might be an illusion, but it sure looks that way.
Sid
I looked again too, and in the Right Side Loose photos, it looks like the auger belt is riding off the side of the idler pulley too far, like running against the ridge on the edge, or even overhanging the edge of the pulley?

Also looks like the top right picture in the smoking belt sequence, that the auger belt front edge is riding too high on and seems a bit off centre on the pulley.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
To answer some of the questions that you have asked:
All of the parts that I replaced were OEM from MTD (except for the belt). So yes it is the exact same size idler pulley as the original one.
I see what you are saying about the belt looking like it is very close to or slightly off the edge of the idler pulley in the photos. However, you need to realize that these photos are showing how loose the cable and belt is in order to avoid it from pushing the belt too tightly to avoid it smoking. So the belt is too loose and floppy when not engaged, so it makes it look like it is not aligned with the idler pulley. I would not normally keep it that loose if it didn't have this issue. And I think when the cable is properly tightened it will not look like it is off.

Actually if you look at the top picture on the photos "straight aligned" you can see the mark left on the idler pulley is properly centered on it.

I can adjust the cable to the proper tension and take some more photos.

Although these pictures are with the unit together, I did have the machine separated when I put the belt on and replaced the parts, and everything seemed ok.

When I had it apart, I also greased all the parts in the machine with Marine grade grease (that I also used to fix my washer and dryer).
It was a bit stiff prior to replacing those parts and lubricating everything, but now moves freely.
I am not sure if there is any rubbing sounds from say the auger, but I wouldn't be surprised if the auger is not bent on any part of it since my home is in a more wooded area and my driveway is gravel. So even though I have it high off the ground and on plastic slider type feet, gravel and branches have gotten caught in it at times and may have caused some damage. But I don't think it is too bad since it does still operate ok.

I didn't actually specifically try to move the auger, pulleys, etc. side to side, but I don't recall feeling anything being loose when I was working on it. But I guess I could re-check specifically to see if there is any movement.

Too me the smoking on the belt seems to be directly related to the amount of pressure that the idler pulley puts on the belt. The harder I pull the lever, the more it smokes.
And the amount of pressure that it is putting on the belt when fully engaged is more than is necessary to get the auger to function properly.
That is what is confusing to me.
 

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If you've been replacing belts every year, something is wrong with the way it's assembled.

You're expected to change the oil once a year . . . . but not belts ?
 

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I was just thinking.

Do you think that this might get more people who have experienced this issue to share their experiences if this was in "Snowblower Repairs and Maintenance Forum" instead of in Yard Machines Forum?

That might not be a bad idea. I generally look in the NEW POSTS category, but perhaps you could PM KissaFrog and ask him to move this thread for you.

Can you also take a few photos of the bottom end of your auger cable, where it attaches to the machine. Is there a spring there, or an internal spring that applies the pulling force to the swing plate?
 

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"perhaps you could PM KissaFrog and ask him to move this thread for you"‎

Sorry, but I am not really knowledgeable about Forum lingo.
What exactly do I need to do to move it?

Regarding the end of the cable, it is a spring attached to the top of the idle pulley's plate (see attached).
There is another spring at the bottom to pull it back (which I replaced with a new one).

Although I don't think that I really needed to, I did replace the cable about 2-3 years ago.
 

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"perhaps you could PM KissaFrog and ask him to move this thread for you"‎

Sorry, but I am not really knowledgeable about Forum lingo.
What exactly do I need to do to move it?

Regarding the end of the cable, it is a spring attached to the top of the idle pulley's plate (see attached).
There is another spring at the bottom to pull it back (which I replaced with a new one).

Although I don't think that I really needed to, I did replace the cable about 2-3 years ago.
Private message Kissafrog, who is a moderator on this forum. Ask him to move this thread to the Maintenance section. Only moderators can do that.

Those photos are a bit fuzzy, but do I see bits of rubber on the idler pulley bracket around the point where the spring hooks to the bracket? Is that open end of the loop on the spring maybe digging into the belt and causing the smoke?
 
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