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Belt issue on newer Cub Cadet


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Back in 2006 when I got divorced I bought a brand new Cub Cadet 2544 for my ex wife, since I didn't want her to get any of my IH Cubs.

Fast forward to last November, she called me and asked me if I wanted the old cub cadet, I said yes since it is the newest one I have! It was in better shape than I expected, not even a tear in the seat. Only has 300 hours on it, she said ran fine, just an issue with the pto and the shop told her it would cost more to fix than it was worth.

I went over it and noticed that the pulleys were a little rusty from non use. I bought a new belt and figured it would be a sacrifice to clean up the pulleys.

This unit has a reverse cut out switch that kills the pto whenever you push on the reverse pedal. There is a fancy key switch that you have to use to be able to mow in reverse that doesn't work on this machine. I need to address that issue sometime in the future to remove the switch on the reverse pedal.

The problem I am having is with the pto belt, you have to engage it every time you go from forward to reverse. These new engines habe the hp, but not the torque of the old engines, you need to be almost wide open to engage the clutch. A couple of times this summer the belt jumped the pulleys when doing this. The other day I was doing the last mowing at the garage, I had one last strip to mow and the belt disintegrated.

Picked up a new $60 belt today. I did a search on Google and there are all kinds of posts on this belt issue on this tractor model.

For what I need at my garage this machine worked great, especially since all the old cubs I used there have died!

I would like to get it running, but if it is a problem child, I will fix/clean it up and flip.

Anyone have this issue or any experience with what is needed to correct the issue?

Thanks

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I don't have an exact answer, but I believe those Cub Cadets are made by MTD and just put Cub Cadet name on them. I have a Columbia, made by MTD, and it is identical to many later Cub Cadets.   I'm only saying this to suggest you ask on some MTD related boards because they likely have the same problem.

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Some of those, and I can't remember if the 2544 is one of them, but I would put wider idler pulleys where the belt enters and leaves the deck, often when the deck is raised all the way up, or is close to all the way down the belt would enter on the upper or lower edges of the idlers and with the engagement the belt would jump, catch the edge and then roll itself off.  Make sure your spindles are not starting to go as well.  

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1 hour ago, CC_Ranger said:

 

This unit has a reverse cut out switch that kills the pto whenever you push on the reverse pedal. There is a fancy key switch that you have to use to be able to mow in reverse that doesn't work on this machine. I need to address that issue sometime in the future to remove the switch on the reverse pedal.

 

Thanks

my mom has a CC XT1 that you you just turn the key to the right position and then press the orange triangle by the key switch and then it will mow in reverse.

on my JD X310 i put a jumper wire into the wire harness plug, no need to take the connection apart or cut any wires.  it's the white wire with the blue ends on it, used spade ends and just push them in. to remove it, just pull it out.

IMG_20190821_200443738.jpg

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My x530 Deere I was whining about on here is temporarily out of commission due to some spindle issues.  The belt that drives the deck keeps running off due to the spindles being shot.  Fwiw I would check the spindles for bearing issues allignment etc.

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Spindle bearings. 

Deck out of alignment from hitting things, bending the wheels or lift bracket.

Front lift rod thing coming loose/bent and not letting the deck sit at the right angle. 

And the needing to be full throttle before the clutch engages, I’m not sure what you mean there. It’s electric. Should engage at any rpm, and not stall. Although low rpm engagement is no good for the belt either.

The reverse override/key switch thing needs to be fixed too. Although I’ve never actually seen one of those switches go bad myself. Not being able to mow in reverse seems silly, and in this case, s making your belt issue even worse 

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2 hours ago, Takn4aFool said:

my mom has a CC XT1 that you you just turn the key to the right position and then press the orange triangle by the key switch and then it will mow in reverse.

on my JD X310 i put a jumper wire into the wire harness plug, no need to take the connection apart or cut any wires.  it's the white wire with the blue ends on it, used spade ends and just push them in. to remove it, just pull it out.

 

This one has the same switch, it older when new, not sure why, but it doesn't work now.

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7 hours ago, stronger800 said:

 

And the needing to be full throttle before the clutch engages, I’m not sure what you mean there. It’s electric. Should engage at any rpm, and not stall. Although low rpm engagement is no good for the belt 

He's saying the throttle has to be close to wide open when the elec clutch is engaged or the engine stalls/dies.

My old 982 with the Onan I could engage the deck just above idle with no problem, because more low RPM torque. My new Zero turn I have to have throttle around 2/3rds open,  mostly because the mower spins the blades WAY faster. My old Cub Cadet decks from the '60's and '70's barely tossed clippings over one mower deck swath,  the Zero-turn easily tosses clippings TWO swaths, and the quality of cut is great.

  The " No Cut in Reverse" is to prevent brain dead parents from backing over their little kids when mowing.  What's the problem with keeping the kids in the house?

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I always wanted to put a big Honda into an 982 style machine.  I have a ‘92 1440 with a 14hp Briggs that feels like it has 28hp. It can engage at idle. Toughest little rig we’ve ever had around.  1641 was 16hp, same chassis, I never felt it had as much snot. But it was 6” wider too.  

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2544 is 21 hp with 44" cut.  It dang well better have enough torque to kick on the deck at idle.  It has a v-twin CH Kohler in it. Those engines will kick a deck on at idle or possibly just above.  I'm betting it's dead on one cylinder.  Next you'll say it isn't miss firing.... no one ever thinks they are, and honestly it is hard to hear it because of the engine design.  Pull on spark plug wire off at a time.  I would bet money when you do, one side the engine sounds the same, other side it dies.  Assuming at half engine it makes 10 hp.  10hp will still pull a 44" deck.  Either way, even if I'm wrong, you have engine problems.

The belt is jumping off because the pulley it attaches to on the deck is bent.  It is a tall tower cheaply made thing and they bend easy.  Usually from people engaging the deck at WOT constantly, or hitting things.  Typically the first.  Too much power for such a small cheap made deck.  

Just for some clarity to other posters, yes this is an MTD built machine.  MTD has owned the Cub Cadet Corporation since 1981, so yeah, a 2006 model machine definitely fell after that date. 

It doesn't need a wider belt, that would only make the problem worse.

It could very well be that the deck isn't hanging level, that would definitely affect it.  Typically it is a bent "tower" pulley spindle/base.  

My advice is to take the engine out of the 2544 and put it in an older Cadet to make it run and use it.  CH engines are an easy swap into any machine of the 82 style series CCC tractors.  Examples: 5/6/7/982, 1710/11/12, 1810/11/12, 1872, 2072 ect, ect. 

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Once you get past the plastic hood, that's a pretty decent tractor. They don't have the frame of the old Cadets, but that is a solid hydro in a nicely laid out tractor. I would much rather run a 2000 series than the old Cubs.

Did you lose the belt between the PTO clutch and deck, or the deck belt?

I'm going to assume it was the belt off the PTO, as that is the problem child on those models.

First off, only a high quality belt will survive, the twisting & turning the belt takes going around the mule drive pulleys up front is murder. I don't know what the OEM belt is made of, but I have bought brand name Kevlar belts and had them explode within a hour.

Next to look at is the two mule drive pulleys, (the 2 up front where the belt is turned 90°.) These pulleys have to be in good condition and are a weak point. Not only do the bearings need to be tight, but the groove in the sheeve has to be good. If the belt rides low in the pulley, you need a new one. I mow in dusty conditions and only get 100 hrs maximum out of an OEM pulley, I literally have worn through one and had the sheeve break.

Pulley condition also goes for the PTO clutch. When the pulley wears down, it doesn't engage the faces of the belt properly. So, again, if the new belt rides deep in the groove, you need a new clutch.... not as big a deal as you may think, I bought an aftermarket unit from MFG Supply for $125.

As just mentioned above, the pulley on the deck could be bent and running out of alignment. A visual inspection would catch that, it would be pretty far off to cause issues.

As you guessed, the wide open engagement all the time isn't helping things. If your machine is anything like my older 2165, there's a spring steel tab on the linkage under the tractor that actuates the reverse switch... make that tab disappear and you can leave the deck engaged when backing up.

As J-Mech said, that Kohler should have plenty of torque to engage the deck @ low idle speeds. I have my doubts the engine being down a cylinder, maybe he has seen something I haven't... been 25 yrs since I worked at a Cub dealership. A common issue that I have seen, is a gummed up carburetor causing a lack of low end power. These newer engines are set to run very lean for emissions purposes, minor carb plugging will make them fall on their face. Try pulling the choke 1/2 on while engaging the PTO, just above idle.

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46 minutes ago, J-Mech said:

2544 is 21 hp with 44" cut.  It dang well better have enough torque to kick on the deck at idle.  It has a v-twin CH Kohler in it. Those engines will kick a deck on at idle or possibly just above.  I'm betting it's dead on one cylinder.  Next you'll say it isn't miss firing.... no one ever thinks they are, and honestly it is hard to hear it because of the engine design.  Pull on spark plug wire off at a time.  I would bet money when you do, one side the engine sounds the same, other side it dies.  Assuming at half engine it makes 10 hp.  10hp will still pull a 44" deck.  Either way, even if I'm wrong, you have engine problems.

 

I have seen this on many different brands of twin motors. Really hard if not impossible to hear it when it's running. Only Symptom is low power. Usually it's just a fouled spark plug.

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12 hours ago, Cattech said:

Once you get past the plastic hood, that's a pretty decent tractor. They don't have the frame of the old Cadets, but that is a solid hydro in a nicely laid out tractor. I would much rather run a 2000 series than the old Cubs.

Not picking on you.  Everyone likes different things...... but you are definitely in the minority if you like a 2K series better than the older machines.  I wouldn't call the hydro "solid".  It's ok, but the 2544 had a Hydro Gear hydrostat in it.  Not exactly a "bulletproof" unit like the UD15 in the "older" machines and the 3K series.  The 3K series was a fantastic series for a newer machine.  2K..... not so much.  But a lot in that series really aren't "garden tractors".  Your 2165 is not really a GT.  It also uses a HG trans. The HG trans just are not as heavy as the UD15. 

 

12 hours ago, Cattech said:

I mow in dusty conditions and only get 100 hrs maximum out of an OEM pulley, I literally have worn through one and had the sheeve break.

That sounds about right for a later machine.  I've got an 1811 with around 2200 hours on it.  Not all mowing hours mind you, but I only recently had to replace one of the mule pulleys. 

 

12 hours ago, Cattech said:

As J-Mech said, that Kohler should have plenty of torque to engage the deck @ low idle speeds. I have my doubts the engine being down a cylinder, maybe he has seen something I haven't... been 25 yrs since I worked at a Cub dealership. A common issue that I have seen, is a gummed up carburetor causing a lack of low end power. These newer engines are set to run very lean for emissions purposes, minor carb plugging will make them fall on their face. Try pulling the choke 1/2 on while engaging the PTO, just above idle.

Yes, I suppose I have seen something you haven't.  Many times apparently.  Very common for a v-twin to drop a cylinder.  Bent push rods, blown head gasket, failed ignition module.  VERY common.  I too have seen gummed up carbs on them, but usually from non use.  Don't typically see it from a good running machine.  I agree that the CH engine runs very lean and is easily leaned out when it gets "crud" in it.  Also there is an o-ring in the carb that fails and can make it hard to start and leak fuel.  The carbs on the CH are kind of "ticky".  

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12 hours ago, yellowrosefarm said:

I have seen this on many different brands of twin motors. Really hard if not impossible to hear it when it's running. Only Symptom is low power. Usually it's just a fouled spark plug.

I've found far more bent pushrods, valve issues, blown head gaskets and bad ignition modules than just fouled plugs.  I mean, fouled plugs happen.... usually after one of those other things goes.  But a new set of plugs is an easy thing.  I'd do a compression check while I had them out though. 

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The bent push rods and valve issues I have seen are almost all from overheating because the fins are stopped up.  Kawasaki seems the worst for that.  Not sure if it's still there, but in the op manual it said to remove the shroud and clean out the fins every 25 hours.  Only thing that was good for was for them to be able to deny warranty when one pushed a valve guide out.  Plenty of other brands could run a lifetime in the same conditions without ever taking the shroud off.  Not suggesting it isn't a good thing to do, but no average owner is going to do that.

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Thanks for the ideas on what to check. When throws the belt, it jumps the mule pulleys, so I will start there. I will check the motor when I do a oil change and tune up. I think it is a problem of being a lean running engine, I will try the choke trick.

While I agree it is not an IH design cub cadet, for just a mowing tractor, it is a pretty nice unit.

I need to look at the pedal linkages, it doesn't return to neutral as soon as you lift the pedal, the shafts probably need to be cleaned, polished, and lubed. Pedal controls for the hydro are one of the nicer modern improvements!

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i Have a 2544 I just traded in because the mule drive belt failed several times and he wanted a new mower anyway  I believe its the clutch pulley thats worn to a square profile instead of a v profile

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