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I have a 1980 version of the Toro 724 2-stage snowblower.
1. It makes a ton of noise in neutral; does not matter if the auger is engaged or not. I pulled the bottom plate and the main drive shaft (belt pulley with drive surface for forward, bolted on disc for reverse) has about 1/8" of end play and some side play at the back end bearing. It appears as though there are two thrust washers and a spacer held in place by a cotter pin that secure the shaft lengthwise in the bearing. Is this play normal or is it the cause of the noise? How much play should there be, if any? Likely cause of the play? FYI, the spacer is no longer available - thoughts on replacement? What is the length spec for the spacer?
2. I lost 3rd gear, but was able to get it back by adjusting the friction disk clevis. Still have reverse, although the friction disc in neutral is now closer to the forward drive pulley than the reverse disc. Why would one gear disappear when the friction disc shaft and front drive pulley are parallel?
I won't disassemble it until the threat of snow is gone.
 

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Sounds like maybe you have a few things going on - possible bushing wear and maybe a worn disc. Take a close look at the shaft driven by the pulley and see what the bushings and bearings look like. I see most of them are NLA though..... you can search ebay with the part numbers listed here: https://www.jackssmallengines.com/jacks-parts-lookup/manufacturer/toro/snowthrowers/1978/38040-524-snowthrower-1978-sn-8000001-8999999/traction-assembly if needed. Sometimes you find NOS parts there.....



Also take a look at the chains/tension and the related bushings on those shafts.....
 

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Post a vid of this problem that is presenting itself on to us here. ALOHA from the paradise city.:smiley-rpg027::smiley-rpg027::smiley-rpg027::smiley-rpg027::smiley-rpg027:
 

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:welcome: to the forum DinosaurMike


Usually if you're loosing the higher gears 3,4,5 ... it's due to the bushing/bearing that the friction discs shaft rides on (11) is well worn and the further out the disc moves the less pressure if applies to the drive disc.

It might also be the "H" shaped frame that holds the friction disc is broken or out of position too.

That and or the bearing that holds the drive plate in place (46) is worn, noisy and allowing the drive plate to move out of it's position at a right angle to the friction disc. IF it's bad it would explain it being noisy in neutral.

"the spacer is no longer available - thoughts on replacement? What is the length spec for the spacer?"
What is the part number ??

https://www.torodealer.com/en-us/Pages/PartsLookupResults.aspx?searchTerm=38050&BasicSearchFilter=equipment

 

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This sounds like a spring/summer job. If the noise is always there even in neutral, then it's probably a bearing in the drive disk, which should be the only part moving in neutral.

If you get a set of additional noises when you engage the traction clutch, then you get to follow the trail to every other bearing and bushing in the drive train.

Since you have the machine in pieces anyway, might as well check the rest of the bearings and bushings in the auger drive so that you will end up with one tear down and a more or less new mechanical drive train.
 
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