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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This forum was a great help recently for issues I had with a Craftsman trac drive snowblower I bought this fall, and an old Gilson snowblower I found along side the road during the summer. I got both running and wanted to post here to describe the Craftsman project to help others who might need the advice.

After the winter of 2015, and a heavy snow that delayed our regular snow service from getting to us for three days, I decided that could not happen again. So decided to purchase a snowblower. Money is tight for us, so I went to Craigslist and shopped around. I settled on a Craftsman 10/32 trac drive unit listed for $250 as I assumed the trac would be better than tires.

I went to look at the snowblower and it started, and everything worked, but it was VERY slow forward and even slower backing. I just assumed it probably needed new belts or the friction disk wheel was worn. So I bought it and hauled it home. The belts were fine. Friction disk fine. Then I discovered the tracs were loose and could not be adjusted. And even set up on its chute, the tracs would not turn. Something was binding them.

The Craftsman trac drive system is the best example I can think of, of a great design on paper, implemented horribly.

So here's its problems. Number one is, where the main axle shaft runs through a plastic trac bushing, that is bolted with four bolts to one side of the trac steel side plate. There is no way to grease the steel shaft, so it was rusted and not completely stuck to the bushing, but could only be turned with great force applied. Ideally there should have been a SS bushing over the steel shaft so corrosion would not cause binding between the steel and plastic. Number two is, the four small steel shafts that are inside each of the four plastic trac drive wheels, are again, plain steel, that rusted and bound to the plastic drive wheels causing the wheels and shafts to rotate, making trac tension non-adjustable, and causing great wear to the steel axle shaft ends where they contact the steel side plates. These four little steel axles should have been made of SS.

How I solved the problem. I removed the trac's entirely and installed wheels with tires. Removing the trac parts was a chore. After you get all the main trac parts off, you are left with the chain sprockets and the bushings attached to them. These are held on to the main axle with bolts through the axle. But mine were rusted so badly, they would not come off with the bolts removed. Even using PB spray and a handheld air hammer with a gear puller, one side came off with difficulty, but it came off, using a Snap-On gear puller. The other side was so badly bound to the axle, I had to cut if off with an angle grinder and cut off wheel, very carefully so not to damage the main axle.

The axle shaft of the Craftsman is 3/4". Since money is so tight, I searched for a solution among my own things. I have an old Troybilt 6 hp rototiller I only use in the warm season. It had large tires, and its axle shaft is 1". I removed its wheels, purchased four 3/4" to 1" steel axle bushings at Tractor Supply for $2.30 each, four 3/4" set screw bushings for $2.50 each, and two 5/16 x 1 1/2" axle pins. I drilled a 5/16" hole in each side of the axle, through one bushing each side. (drill halfway from each side of the axle using the wheel to guide the drill bit, then ream the middle.) Attached one set screw bushing against the existing Craftsman bushings, lubed everything well with moly grease. Installed other 1" bushings, the Troybilt wheels, then the last set screw bushing to the end of the axle.

Result, it works great. Got to use it yesterday after we got over 8 inches of wet heavy snow, and it ran like a champ.

Edit: Added pics. Hopefully they'll show up in the same order I uploaded them. But if not, each pic has a descriptive title.
 

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That's great that you got it working! It's nice when some ingenuity can help get you around a problem. Even better when it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Nice job!

If you have any pics, either of the "before" situation, or the "after" with your fix, that would be interesting, and might help someone else.
 

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A co-worker of mine had a Craftsman 5/23 Track Drive with the exact same issues. My own personal feeling was the tracks were unique and very cool; so I pulled all the rusted stuff apart, cleaned, greased and put it all back together. It was a tough fight and I used some pullers that most guys aren't going to have lying around in their garages; (plate-type, inboard boat propeller puller, similar to this rig: Boat Propeller Puller New 3 and 4 Blade | eBay) but I think it was worth the effort. You can push the machine around now, even when it's not running and the Track Drive seems to work great. How long the rubber tracks will last is anybody's guess; but for now, they are looking just fine. I do agree that those plastic axle bushings could have been a lot more thought out....but the pencil pushers at Murray won that battle!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I agree, the trac is cool. But poorly implemented. So you got yours back together! Good job. But ofc you'll have to disassemble it entirely every few years to grease everything again. Unless you added a few zerk grease fittings, but even then, since the system is not designed to be greased in that way, it's hard to say how effective that might be in the long run.

Here's the gear puller I used, tho I got mine at a garage sale and likely paid less than $50.Snap on CJ2002 Gear Puller Set CJ2002 Combo Set CJ85 1 CJ86 1 | eBay

Using this puller, one side of the axle sprocket came off, but with great force. The other side, the axle actually split. There's a hole in the end of the blower axle for a retaining bolt that is only like 1/4" from the end. I put so much force on that end that the steel broke through to that pin hole and split the steel for a couple inches in. So then I tried the slide hammer attachment instead and that didn't work either. So out came the angle grinder and cut off wheel. I had to destroy that sides chain sprocket to remove it, so would have had to find a used one somewhere as they are no longer made. Thus the transition to tires was the way to go.
 

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Holy smokes and I thought the one I worked on was tough.....I did have to use heat to get those sprockets off. But as far as the plastic bushings that the whole machine pivots on, they just pulled off, right over the rust balls! With difficulty; of course.... but they were reusable. Good thing, as they are $91 a side, if I had wrecked them!!
 

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If you have any pics, either of the "before" situation, or the "after" with your fix, that would be interesting, and might help someone else.

I would like to hear the audio feed of what was said while trying to get the rusted bolts out of the axle. :D
 
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