Tightening A Non-Adjustable Lawn Mower Drive Belt

Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 06:22 pm
I've got a self-propelled, non-riding Craftsman lawn mower that's a couple of years old, and which has performed well over the last several years.

Over the past two seasons, I've noted that the front drive wheels gradually seemed to provide less "drive". I replaced one of the front wheels which had shown some noticeable wear - not that I believe that the "tread" pattern really enhances the traction that much on this kind of lawn mower.

Mostly I've focused on the drive belt as the "culprit" of this problem. Consequently, I've replaced the belt with the equivalent OEM belt - but with little change in the performance. Visually, it simply appears as those the drive belt is not providing sufficient torque to the drive wheels - although the torque transfer is essentially constant (theoretically) when the mower is running, as there is no variable acceleration on this model lawn mower.

Short story is that I would like to tighten the drive belt to provide better friction against the drive wheel (either the one proximal to the wheels themselves or from the engine drive shaft directly. Neither of these drive wheels really has any mechanism that will allow the "throw" to be increased (no spring, no tension screw, no nothing, etc.), in order to increase the tension of the drive belt against the drive wheel(s).

Is there some little-known-trick that will obviously either increase the height dimension of the drive belt (exclusive of buying different dimension belt), or increasing the circumference of the drive wheel - either of which will ensure a better friction between the drive belt and the drive wheel?

I'll bet someone has experienced this problem before and has an "off-the-grid" solution.
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Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 07:26 pm
I got no idea. Here's some wisdom from the machine shop. If a flat belt, as on a Southbend lathe is slipping, get some belt dressing. They tell me honey works better.
Reply Mon 19 May, 2014 03:35 pm
Okay, belt dressing . . . not sure about this one. And as for honey - while it sounds like a sweet solution, a sustainable answer to this problem is what we need.

My current boss always tells me (pretty profoundly, I might add), that there are always two ways of doing something (and it's not the right way and the wrong way . . .).

Seems as though we're already barking up the two likely 'trees' however. The first being increasing the dimension of the drive belt and the second increasing the circumference of the drive wheel. Since the second 'tree' (the drive wheel) seemed like a better bet, I did contemplate applying/wrapping some kind of adhesive material (duct tape, etc.) around the drive wheel and then overlaying the drive belt - but the material never held up very well to the constant drive belt friction.

Would appear as though we need some kind of pliable material, which is sufficiently thin enough to fractionally increase the diameter of the drive, and yet be able to adhere to the drive wheel metal surface, and have a sufficient tactile/rough surface for the drive belt to transfer torque - all without tearing up the intermediary material being used.

Nothing comes immediately to mind - but I think we'll leave this out there and an "open" question, since I've got to believe there's some kind of solution "out there" - that's firmly in the: old wives tale, urban legend, off-the-grid category.
Reply Mon 19 May, 2014 03:45 pm
Yeah, just leave it open. Bet somebody comes along in a couple of years and provides you with a link to a new lawnmower site.

ETA: I just realized I've never come up with an answer to one of your questions. Quit that.
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