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  1. #1

    Default Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    Could someone educate this newbie on this issue? If a transmission gets turned by a belt or by a shaft what does it matter as long as it turns? I understand there would be maintenance issues in commercial applications, but I am talking about the average homeowner who can take the time to adjust/change the belt him or herself. Of far greater importance it seems to me would be actual transmission itself. Is there anyway to know the strength or durability of the various brands in the popular lawn tractors?

  2. #2
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    139
    Location
    NE Ohio
    Tractor
    Toro WH 520XI

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    I've owned both a belt driven and a shaft driven GT. I currently own the shaft driven GT. IMO, based on my GT experience, I prefer a shaft driven tranny for operating ground engaging attachments and plowing snow. I've experienced the use of more torque for pushing and pulling with the above mentioned attachments. A belt driven tranny LT or GT should be sufficent if you are just mowing grass. Other people may not agree with my post, but like I said it's my opinion.

  3. #3
    Elite Member Cliff_Johns's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
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    2,697
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Tractor
    JD 4110

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    There is a difference if the belt is driving a hydrostatic pump for the transmission or driving the wheels through gears.

    I wouldn't hesitate to use a belt for a hydro transmission. It's lighter, cheaper, and easier to fix and it's an appropriate application.

    For a gear transmission, it's still lighter, cheaper, and easier to fix , but slippage is much more of an issue if you're pulling heavy stuff up hill or doing tilling etc. Still, belts have been used for that purpose for a long time and have worked fine.

    Cliff

  4. #4
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    248
    Location
    newport michigan
    Tractor
    TC-30, fel

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    To me this is the difference between a lawn tractor and a garden tractor.
    My Cub Cadet 1529, 19hp kawasaki, belt driven hydro with electric clutch. this is a lawn tractor.

  5. #5
    Platinum Member Fordlords's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
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    951
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Tractor
    Cub Cadet 682

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    Great topic!

    Does it matter if its driven by a belt or shaft?

    For a real tractor, it definitely does. The true heavy duty hydrostatic transmissions are shaft driven. Why? Because they can handle a LOT of torque. The torque their pumps can produce and their gears can handle for maximum relibility goes well beyond what a belt and spring tensioner can supply to the transaxle. It is the reason why they are driven by a shaft and not a belt. How many real farm tractors have transmissions driven by rubber belts?

    -Fordlords-
    1980 Cub Cadet 682 with 18 HP Honda GX V-Twin engine
    2008 Ariens 624 Snowblower
    2007 Craftsman by MTD 4 Cycle Weedwacker




    Check out my TBN photo gallery for B4 and after pix of my CC 682 Restoration! http://www.tractorbynet.com/photos/s...cat/500/page/1

  6. #6
    Elite Member Cliff_Johns's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
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    2,697
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    Northern Illinois
    Tractor
    JD 4110

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    Quote Originally Posted by Fordlords
    For a real tractor, it definitely does. The true heavy duty hydrostatic transmissions are shaft driven. Why? Because they can handle a LOT of torque.
    Well, this being the lawn and garden section, I think we're talking lawn and garden tractors where a LOT of torque is unlikely, and where if you're putting that much torque on your Hydro transmission, you probably WANT your belt to slip. My opnion, but for a lawn tractor, I find a belt to be perfectly fine. If I was pulling a plow or a tiller, I might prefer a shaft driven model.

    My point is, depending on the application, more expensive and heavy isn't always better. Sometimes, it's just more expensive and heavy.

    Cliff

  7. #7
    Platinum Member Fordlords's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    951
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Tractor
    Cub Cadet 682

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    Very true Cliff.

    Shaft drive can be a key feature for longevity too, but does not necessarily cost a fortune as is the case with Cub Cadet's 2500 and 3000 GT lineups. Most manufactirers have dropped this platform based on the market in order to keep things as inexpensive as possible from the build standpoint or replacing heavy duty components for features like 4 wheel steering to give the machines more sales appeal to those who don't want to know about the inner workings of their tractor.

    For just cutting the grass or light work like pulling a cart or such, a belt drive hydro is fine, I indeed use a small Craftsman hydro LT for those tasks. If one intends on bigger jobs with their tractor such as snowblowing, aerating, dethatching, tilling, or mowing on sharp inclines, or maybe just hypothetical peace of mind, one will appreciate the IMHO better shaft driven hydrostatic transaxle.

    I sometimes look at things in an oddball way, but with some reason. Like with a car, the wheels often determine the overall look of a car, the powertrain and suspension determine its performance. With a tractor, the word to me is traction, which will ultimately come down to having a good means of power transmission where the key is more concentrated on the transaxle than the engine or anything else. I guess it all comes down to wants for the needed application, and what kind of money one wants to spend, and what an individual likes. And if that logic does not intrigue the wife, you get the most she says you can have

    -Fordlords-
    1980 Cub Cadet 682 with 18 HP Honda GX V-Twin engine
    2008 Ariens 624 Snowblower
    2007 Craftsman by MTD 4 Cycle Weedwacker




    Check out my TBN photo gallery for B4 and after pix of my CC 682 Restoration! http://www.tractorbynet.com/photos/s...cat/500/page/1

  8. #8

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    Fordlords, Cliff, I think both points of view are valid, and I agree with both. But I think that unless you have some information about the transmission itself, you are still in the dark. Seems to me you would need a heavy duty shaft drive ONLY if you had an upgraded transmission that produced a LOT of torque. If you had the same tranmission on a shaft drive as on a belt drive, you wouldn't necessarily get more output from the shaft drive, would you? In fact, just guessing with no evidence to support my opinion, couldn't your shaft drive actually do some damage to an undersized transmission precisely because it can not slip? So what about some information on the specification sheets about the transmission? Like some number that gives a maximum torque output or some such? Sort of like h.p. for engines. Any manufacturers reading this?

  9. #9
    Platinum Member
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    Nov 2004
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    552
    Location
    North Central Md.
    Tractor
    Kubota L3130 HST

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    Both work fine for different applications. My 325 JD mower is belt driven hydrostatic and it gets a new drive belt every 6 years, need it or not. Never been a problem and I pound it pretty hard (Maryland standards) on a very steep 400' drive plowing snow and pulling loaded utility carts and dethachers around. Mowing doesn't tax the hydro trans in any real way. I'd probably put one on every 10 years if that's all I did.

    Did some cutting and clearing work with the front blade (before I owned the Bota) that would have impressed just about any observer given that machines size. It definitely got pounded way beyond factory intended use during that period. Never a complaint from the drive belt.
    Chris

  10. #10
    Veteran Member Volfandt's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
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    1,879
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    TN
    Tractor
    2004 Kubota BX23, 1966 WheelHorse 856

    Default Re: Belt drive or shaft drive transmission

    It depends on the make and model of L&G tractor. In very heavy duty applications such as tractor pulling a shaft drive is prefered.
    That said it's ironic in that the two main brands used in garden tractor pulling are shaft drive Cub's and belt drive Wheel Horses.
    I've estimated I've got well over 2000 hrs on my 1966 856 WheelHorse and I've only changed the belt 7 times in over 25 yrs of service.
    While that would indicate I had to R&R the drive belt every 3.5 yrs, the belt was less than $20 and took about 20 minutes to change.
    I've pulled some pretty heafty weights with it too
    Attached Images Attached Images
    BX23 w/60" MMM & thumb.
    1966 Wheelhorse 856, Gear drive.
    1966 Wheelhorse 876, HST drive.
    w/50"sickle mower, 36" RDM, snow/grader plow, Alternator welder.

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