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 Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual

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PostSubject: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:14 pm

So I decided some time ago to modify my 2003 MTD Yard Machines by converting it from Vari-Drive to a 5 speed manual.

First, I grabbed a Foote/Dana/Spicer 5 speed from my local junk yard. Cleaned it out, and welded the spider gears solid. Changed the drive pulley to 4" and added 90w gear oil and RTV sealant.


Then, as I'm prone to do, I just jumped in and started stripping down the machine and prepping it for the install without really knowing what I was getting into. I ripped out the Vari pulley and all the mower deck hardware. Next, I mounted the tranny to the body just to see if everything lined up.

It didn't.
The drive pulley was 1.25" to high and would not line up with the engine pulley. :doh:

Solution: Put the tranny on blocks. I took tube steel and cut them to size, and then drilled holes through for the mounting bolts.

After all this, I put the blocks in place only to realize that the mounting bolts on the tranny didn't line up with the body! The tranny was too wide. LOL

Ok, so I'm batting 1000%

Solution: Make adapter plates. I took some plate steel from the old bagger attachment I had and made two square adapter plates.


So, with the height and width adjustments made I was ready to start the process of creating a drive line.

First, I cut out a slot in the body in order to install a piece of angle iron. This angle iron was going to be used to mount the clutch, and adjustable idler pulley.

Then, I built the clutch. I bent up a rod to connect it to the foot pedal. Installed the tensioner pulley. Then I drilled 7 holes in the angle iron for the adjustable idler pulley. This would allow me to adjust the tension as the belt stretches.


Next, I welded a eye hook onto the clutch for the spring to grab on to. I attached the spring to a turnbuckle for tension adjustment.

After that, I reinstalled everything and it's been great!


Here's a video:

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Chunk
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:21 am

Looks good! Not sure why that video didnt turn up in my subscriptions though. Tranny's can be a real pain.

Im still dreading building my clutch. I want to move it to the left side (like a car) and have the foot throttle on the right.

Pretty cool that you can just pick up mower parts in your local scrap yard. Wish I had that!
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:37 am

Yah same here, at my scrap yard you havta pay for any thing there. It sucks cause you gotta bargin for somthin worth lke a dollar. Thats why i just post adds on craigslist saying that i will pick up scrap mowers running or not
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:59 pm

Even then, your both still better of than me. I dont have a problem with bargaining, in fact Im quite good at it cheers
There is just a total lack of lawn tractor of any kind in my area. If people do have them, they'll try to charge you stupid amounts of money for something not even worth £50. That or they'll hang on to it and let it rot into the ground. It annoys me. Got my eyes on another possible freebie though Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:41 pm

Its always good to have spair tractors Razz My dad has ne that he bought causer he thought he could fix it and cut the lawn with it. i checked it out and the mower deck is busted. Im just waiting for him to realise that he cant fix it and im gonna turn it into a off road machine. Its a craftsman LT4000 too like my other one just a different year. Craftsmans are great and easy to convert to a off road machine.
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:48 pm

Hey MowerModder- seen your build at the ATLM site ( i check there for ideas - im not signed up cause i think thier rules are stupid) - its a cool setup y made there.


Free stuff is good- i have a bunch of tractors that were freebies- i try not to pay over $75 for a lawntractor. Down here theyre strict about taking stuff from the transfer station ( yeah because THEY want it) - i havent asked about stuff at the scrap yard a couple towns over.
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:23 pm

What is the ATLM site(not that i want to join it just curious)
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:39 pm

http://offroadmowers.com - i watched a couple threads on there and i didnt agree with the responses of the forum creators- turned me totally off from joining.
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:22 am

@dangeroustoys56 wrote:
http://offroadmowers.com - i watched a couple threads on there and i didnt agree with the responses of the forum creators- turned me totally off from joining.
Its exactly the same for me! Dont agree with some of their rules, its nothing personal. Their site seems pretty dead

I think too many strict rules has turned people away.
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:44 pm

Eh not to sound stupid but..I've been hearing alot about Vari-Drive,and people converting to regular transaxles. What is a Vari-Drive?
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:46 pm

definatly,they have wayyyyy too many rules.
I tried to join a few months ago.
They denied my application lol!!
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:16 am

Vari drive is MTD's drive setup ( i think dynamark did that breifly but anyway) - the transaxle is a forward/nuetral/reverse only trans- the real shifting is in the varible drive pulley located almost in the center of the tractor - the front n rear drive belts attach to it, depending on where the shifter is placed ( which moves the varible pulley forward/backwards ) it also moves a center part of the vari pulley up and down as well while it spins - i sorta say its like a snowmobile clutch setup- higher the belt is on the pulley- slower it goes, lower it is, the faster it goes.


They aernt really designed for any speed applications- a manual shifting peerless ( or any other type) is better for modifed and speed applications.
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:05 am

Its quite a cool design, for lawn mowing. Going backwards the same speed as forwards is pretty cool.
It sort of works like a centrifugal (snowmobile) clutch. Except for instead of the pulley sliding with engine speed, you control it with the 'gear' shifter. I do like the design of it, alhough alot of people have problems with them!
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:29 am

Yeah, They do work well, you just have to build a couple of spring tentioners (1 for each belt) and make sure there really tight! We JUST did a bunch of work on my friends green MTD to try to cure the belt slippage. We tested the new design and it work increadibly well! We cant just change out his tranny because its'a heavy duty, and it has a hi-lo range. I don't have any extra trannys that would turn his massive 25" tires without snaping like a toothpick. It's not totaly done yet, but he was able to ride it, and there was ZERO slippage, and we tried to make it slip! lol! We also changed his exaust to a side exit straight pipe, put in a new solenoid, put a plug in his rear tire so it would hold air, and of course the tentioner mods.

Edit: I can't seem to find his build on that other site... Can someone point me in the right direction? I'd like to see it.
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PostSubject: Re: Converting a Vari-Drive to a 5 Speed Manual   Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:46 pm

http://www.atlma.us/index.php?PHPSESSID=eec48da778baaff2da2ee1a88afb28f4&topic=507.msg4237;topicseen#msg4237

Oddly enough my 97 that ive been working on for a mower- even after swapping the vari drive with a working one- it STILL hauls! Well, the brakes work- so ill just use lower gears to mow.


yeah they tend to seize up if water gets on em - the center part rusts in place ( couple good wacks with a hammer will free em up usually) - Ive got quite a few spares lying around .....ive seen those vari drives go for around $100 new....
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