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How to put a belt on a craftsman riding lawnmower, step by step

Keeping your craftsman riding lawnmower maintained is necessary to keep it working perfectly and for many years to come. In your routine check-ups, one thing that you have to ensure is a properly functioning drive belt. The drive belt is responsible for engaging the mower blades by connecting them with the engine’s crankshaft. With time, the belt will wear and due to continuous use. Cracks may appear, it can get slightly longer, or the rubber may get damp, which causes the belt to slip. In these cases, replacing the drive belt becomes crucial to prevent the damage from spreading. Putting a new belt on the craftsman riding lawnmower is simple as it is relatively easy to dismantle. This article gives step-by-step instructions for putting a belt on a craftsman riding lawnmower.

How to put a belt on a craftsman riding lawnmower, step by step:

  • Step 1: Gather the necessary tools and disconnect the spark plug cable
  • Step 2. Position your lawnmower on a leveled surface
  • Step 3: Remove the mower deck
  • Step 4: Remove the old belt
  • Step 5: Put on a new belt
  • Step 6: Reinstall the mower deck and reconnect the spark plug cable
(CC BY-SA 2.0) by sub35089

The blades are turning from the momentum that the engine creates and is transferred by the drive belt. The drive belt matches the engine’s speed, so it is also rotating at high speeds. This causes the belt to get worn-out eventually. A stretched belt whose surface is full of cracks causes issues like power lag, less cutting power, and jerks. You should check the belt condition at least once each season and replace it when needed. A craftsman riding lawnmower’s belt can be changed and replaced quickly if the steps are correctly followed. Keep in mind that the craftsman mower does not contain any adjustments to tighten this belt if it gets loose. So when there is a problem, the only option is to replace it.

General Guide to replace Craftsman riding lawnmower belt:

The following steps should be followed to make the process as easy as possible. If, at any point, you feel that the job is beyond your level of expertise, consult an expert.

● Step 1. Gather the necessary tools and disconnect the spark plug

Working on your lawnmower is easier if you have the right tools at hand. Replacing the drive belt on the craftsman riding lawnmower is no exception. The first step will be to remove the old belt. When that has been done, you can check the condition of the pulleys and crankshaft. The most important supply you need is the replacement belt. Make sure that you have the correct one for your craftsman lawnmower type. It needs to have the correct length and shape. Ensure that the size is spot on. Slightly shorter or longer will not work.

To start the work, you should have the following tools at hand:

  • A pair of safety gloves
  • Set of Pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Woodblocks

● Step 2. Position your lawnmower to a smooth surface.

Place the craftsman riding mower on a smooth and level surface before you start to work. Leave the transmission in gear and apply the lawnmower’s parking brakes so that it does not roll. Before putting a new belt on your lawnmower, you need to disconnect the spark plug cables. This is a safety precaution to ensure that the mower can not unintentionally start while you are working on it. Where needed, protect your hand by wearing work gloves. Also, turn off the ignition switch.

Set your mower deck to the lowest possible setting if you do not want to remove the deck during the process. In some modern versions of the craftsman riding lawnmower, it is easier to remove the cutting deck. It makes your approach to the pulleys much easier.

● Step 3: Remove the mower deck

Removing the mower deck may take some time and patience. Move the deck height adjuster to lower the deck to the lowest possible point. A bolt is present on the deck’s rear section near the tire, and bow clips are present above this bolt. Remove these bow clips. After that, disengage the cutting blades. You can do this by pushing the drive lever towards you, which is present on the side of the steering wheel. A Craftsman riding lawnmower is special as the drive belt in it wounds over the mower deck and the crankshaft in a spiral. Now, release the drive belt from belt keepers by rolling the blade belt off the engine. Detaching the support from the deck is very necessary from both sides. In this case, you need to remove the pin and washer support for the drag links and suspension arms on both sides. Remove the left suspension arm retaining clip, washer and detach it.

Now, release the bracket from the deck by removing the left rear deck bracket clip. Similarly, the right suspension arm and right rear bracket can be removed by repeating the same process. After removing right and left suspensions, arms, and rear brackets, pull the deck out and access the blade cable attached to the deck.

● Step 4: Remove the old belt

Release the locking tabs and pull the cable out of the deck bracket. A blade cable spring is present on the idler arm. Disconnect it and move the cable aside. Finally, free the old cable of any connections. Always keep in mind the safety precautions while repairing any machine as safety is essential. So you should avoid using the lever until the craftsman mower deck is reinstalled.

There are two pulleys on which the belt is being set. One is called an idler pulley, and the other one is a mandrel pulley. Now lose the pulley on which the old belt is already present. Use your hands to slip the belt off the pulley. A small belt guide is also present on the pulley. To remove the belt, shake the guide and the pulley. Similarly, remove the belt from the second pulley as well.

● Step 5: Putting on a new belt

When you are done with the previous step, we can start with putting on the new belt. The Craftsman riding lawn mower has two pulleys over which the belt has to be mounted. The size of the belt can differ according to the model of the lawnmower. It ranges from 42 to 50 inches long. First of all, take the new belt and slide it up and around the engine pulley. By slipping the new belt between the pulley and the guide, install it on the mandrel pulley with the large belt guide. Carefully use your hands to work it down onto the pulley. Ensure that the belt fits completely on the pulley grooves and has no lag. Now wrap the belt around the idler pulley in the same way. Move the pulleys by hands; they should move without any restriction.

● Step 6: Reinstalling

After putting on a new belt successfully, now you need to reinstall the mower deck. First of all, push the deck near the craftsman lawn tractor frame and connect the blade clutch cable spring to the idler arm. Now engage the locking tabs by pushing the blade clutch retainer into the deck bracket. Reconnect the front link support in the same way you disconnected it. It will be the reverse of the above process. Now, carefully reconnect the right and left suspension arms and deck brackets. Take the blade belt through the belt keepers and then roll it onto the engine’s pulley. This will be the third pulley. Always check the connections and lubrication of the blade belt. If adjustment is needed, adjust it properly so that the blade belt is routed well overall pulleys and through all belt keepers. Finally, reconnect the spark plug wire and lower the hood.

Push the drive lever to engage the blades. Turn the mower on and check if the engine sound is normal and the blades move freely.

Additional concerns:

Always keep in mind the safety precautions. They will keep you safe. Some of the precautions you need to follow are given below:

  • Use safety gloves: You do not want to get your hand all oily and greasy while fixing the lawnmower. So it would be best if you wear safety gloves to get rid of this issue.
  • Remove the spark plug first: You do not want to get an electric shock while fixing your lawnmower. So for that, you need to make sure that the plug is removed.
  • Have a first aid box near: You should keep the first aid box with you to treat any injury timely instead of rushing here and there at the moment of need.

Frequently asked questions

1. The belt comes off whenever I engage the blades. What to do?

If you engage the blades and the belt comes off, it means that the belt installed is not correctly adjusted. The belt’s size ranges from 42-50 inches depending upon the model, so if you don’t use the correct belt, the problem may occur. So, the only solution to this problem is using the right size belt with the proper and tight connections. If you observe that your pulleys have gotten loose or that the fasteners are corroded, get them replaced by the machine’s expert.

2. I have brought a new belt, but it does not fit on the pulleys. What to do?

You may have brought the wrong belt for your lawnmower. Check the model of your lawnmower from the user manual and always buy the belt using specific instructions. Its size ranges from 42-50 inches. Avoid buying the belts of other machines like automobiles. Where possible, try to use genuine parts.

3. When to replace the lawnmower belt?

If a lawnmower belt is broken or worn-out, it needs immediate replacement. If it is not replaced, your mower won’t run properly. Faults in the belts make the belt break randomly. Increased mower use shortens the period in which belts need to be replaced. If your belt gets loose, it needs an immediate adjustment or replacement. There is no fixed time to replace lawnmower belts, but you should check the belt condition at least once a season.

Final remarks

To conclude, we can say that a lawnmower is a machine that should be adequately maintained. If not, it always will cause issues and will not work well at some point. One of the important parts that keep the blade rotating is the drive belt. Mower issues like cutting power loss and jerks are indicators of belt issues. This article provides you with the simple, easy-to-follow steps to put on a new drive belt on your Craftsman riding lawnmower. If at any point you feel that the issue is beyond your comprehension level, ask a professional for help.