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 Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle

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prancstaman
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PostSubject: No more busted knuckles!!!   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Jun 10, 2018 10:35 pm

Hay People,
I finally got the shifter made. No more busted knuckles for me, LOL. And was easier then I thought it would be to make something workable, I actually been dreading making a shifter because I thought it would be hard. K.I.S.S method applied and approved.

An added benefit of having a steel dash is you can weld to it. So on the side of the dash I welded a spacer to it for a pivot point. Then drilled the hole for the bolt inside the spacer.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180613

Next was the arm for the shifter rod on the transaxle. I drilled out a piece of pipe to slide over the shifter rod then marked and drilled a hole for a bolt to go through and lock the pipe onto the shifter rod. Then welded a flat piece on top for the linkage to attach to after I figured out range of motion.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180615

Made a shifter. Some deck linkage I found in the pile of mower parts. Bent it up to contour the dash and hold the linkage rod. Welded a spacer to the pivot point so it doesn't rock on the bolt and welded on a handle.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180617

Found a long heavy rod for the linkage with one end having an adjuster on it so I can adjust where the shifter stops, mainly when the shifter is all the way forward (which is reverse gear). The other end I welded a bolt to for ease of removal and used a nylock nut on it.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180618

I had to clearance the seat bracket some more for the shifter lever for the transaxle.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180620

Finally pieced it together. The linkage rod is out of the way which was unexpected and good. The shifter is in reverse now. I'll paint it black later, it was raining when I was making this.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180619

I shaped the shifter to contour the dash so it looks nice.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180621

And this is the shifter in 5th gear on the transaxle.
Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20180622

I haven't even tested it yet so I have no clue if it will hold up without bending. Pushing forward and pulling backwards, the shifter should hold up. But the shifter is easy to bend side ways because it is only 1/16 inch thick steel. Should be simple to reinforce it later or make a shifter out of something thicker and stronger later.

I'm still having a problem shifting the transaxle from gear to gear. I'm thinking that not having a way to release the pressure on the trans belt is making it shift hard because even though I have the clutch pushed in that only releases the engine belt pressure while the trans belt is still under tension. That makes the shifting forks not want to move in the transaxle. It's mainly hard to shift in reverse, neutral, and first gear on the transaxle. 2nd through 5th are always easy because I'm moving and there is no big pressure on the shift forks. Looks like I'll have to add a second clutch and have it going to the trans belt tensioner so I can shift into 1st, neutral, and reverse. Maybe have it on the shifter handle for the transaxle. Should be easy by hand since there are small springs on the trans belt tensioner.
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AllisKidD21
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Jun 10, 2018 10:45 pm

I LOVE that shifter setup! Looks super cool, really clean and almost factory looking. Should be much more comfortable to use. Also like you said it'd be pretty simple to reinforce that shifter handle if it started to bend too.

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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Jun 10, 2018 11:42 pm

Thank you. Yes, more comfortable!! I was planning on 1/4 inch rod stock welded to the inside of the shifter, the whole length of it, if need be. I forgot to mention in the post that I still need to make a pointer somehow, to show what gear the transaxle is in. Maybe a Z gate for the shifter to follow, since it is a little bendable sideways and would spring back without staying bent would seem fitting. But that might be a while. I only had a chance to work on this because it was raining and I did the work in the rain.
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MatthewD
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeMon Jun 11, 2018 6:38 am

Nice work on the shifter! The linkage looks like it should stay out of the way of your leg which is good.
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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeMon Jun 11, 2018 8:13 pm

@MatthewD wrote:
Nice work on the shifter! The linkage looks like it should stay out of the way of your leg which is good.

Thanks Matt. I kept the linkage on the inside of the shifter just for that. Everything seem to fit together without that much work. Took about 3 or so hours during the day while doing other stuff too. I haven't even sat on the mower yet to try it out, been too busy lately. I did this Sunday and tried to finish to where I could cut some grass but other things happened like running erins and such, Oh well, atleast I got it done. Smile
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Crazy_Carl
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeMon Jun 11, 2018 8:53 pm

Have you tried removing the belt going to the trans to see if it still shifts hard?  I don't understand the pressure of the shift forks.  If the tension were off that belt maybe the input shaft can wiggle just a little bit to allow the shift keys to move more easily back and forth?

I really like this column shift concept.  It should be easily to strengthen and refine it.
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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeWed Jun 13, 2018 12:06 am

@Crazy_Carl wrote:
Have you tried removing the belt going to the trans to see if it still shifts hard?  I don't understand the pressure of the shift forks.  If the tension were off that belt maybe the input shaft can wiggle just a little bit to allow the shift keys to move more easily back and forth?

I really like this column shift concept.  It should be easily to strengthen and refine it.

Well, how I came to the conclusion about the shift forks is- when the mower is sitting on level ground, it can move back and forth a little while in gear and engine off (driveline slop), this is when it shifts ok in reverse to neutral to 1st gear. It also shifts ok into these gears while engine running and on level ground with clutch pushed in and the driveline relaxed. Now when I had it on level ground with the engine off and in reverse and would push it backwards to create pressure on the driveline then I would not be able to shift into another gear like neutral, then stop pushing on the mower then I would be able to shift. The trans was ok when I took it apart so the conclusion for the not shifting right would be because of driveline tension.

Driveline tension would be defined for the transaxle as- when the transaxle input wants to turn but is held back by the output axles not moving. When this happens the slop in the transaxle is gone because of the pressure wanting to turn the input. All those clearances in between the gears are gone because they want to turn but can't, in other words. So when this happens it makes the internal parts hard to slide sideways like the shift forks which slide sideways to pick the gear. Now the shift forks slide sideways because there is space for the forks to slide sideways to pick the gear (clearance), but if the gear wants to turn and can't because the input wants to turn and can't, this  takes away the sliding clearance around the shift fork which is actually jammed up from the pressure (driveline tension).

So my theory of this gearbox is- when it was in a regular riding mower it worked fine shifting because when you pushed the clutch in it released the pressure on the input shaft so it can spin freely which released the driveline tension in the transaxle which opened up the clearances for the shift forks to move to the selected gear. My setup does this kinda which is why it is possible to shift while it is sitting on flat ground and no driveline tension. But when I am riding and am on a hill or drove into a tree I can't shift even with the clutch pushed in because the trans belt still has tension on it from the trans belt tensioner, but if I rock the back to lift one rear tire so it can spin free to remove this tension then I can shift. The key was always to lift one rear tire to spin free to remove this built up tension to be able to shift. So if I am able to free up the trans belt tensioner with a clutch lever to releave the driveline pressure in the transaxle this way then it should shift then.
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Crazy_Carl
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeWed Jun 13, 2018 10:16 am

Makes sense to me.

This reminds me of my buddy's MTD mower he had with varidrive and F-N-R.  The thing was a pain in the butt to shift into reverse on hills.
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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Little update   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Oct 14, 2018 6:34 pm

Hay People,
Getting towards the end of the season, getting cold and just a few more times of using this mower this year. I really just had one big issue that I took care of today so far. I just had to tighten the bolt on the transaxle shifter rod I made for the linkage going to the dash shifter. Plus adjusted the dash shifter for that too because it was hitting the dash before it would go into reverse.

Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20181010

Other then that, this thing just keeps running and running. I'll be using it for a couple hours each time and is set at full throttle the hole time. Doesn't miss a beat. Pretty much it for now.
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AllisKidD21
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Oct 14, 2018 6:47 pm

Nice to see this rig still working good! It'd be cool to see some videos of it in action on your channel.

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"This'll either wake you up or put you to sleep forever!"- Red Green         "Just took a center punch *Wham!* Oh that's close enough." - TheBeal
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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Oct 14, 2018 11:11 pm

Works real good still. I'd like to do something on my channel too, been busy working on my cars and other peoples cars that I have no time. But I see some spare time coming up though to do something, maybe.
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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeThu Nov 22, 2018 9:04 pm

Hay People,
Well, it's the end of the season, no more cutting the grass, thank goodness, LOL. I packed it up for the winter and pulled the battery so hopefully the battery don't die sitting in my basement for next year. This thing was running pretty good for the most part. Last thing I did was the shifter adjustment, probably because the linkage bent a little, still have the issue of the transaxle not shifting when under a load. I expected that which is why I made the linkage adjustable. A next year fix, definitely, because the issue is getting old real quick, I'm thinking a clutch lever on the shifter handle should do it.

Still need a front bumper and mount some new lights on it too. The belts held up great for the vari drive. And the deck belt needs to be adjusted so I can turn the blades off on the deck, would be nice and be easier to start and idle too with the blades off. It starts and idles fine now as is, but still. Worry about painting this way later because I need to pull it all apart and want to do a good job painting it since I got all the gear for that.

Well, that should be it for this project for this year, till next cutting season when I pull it out again and start using it.
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PostSubject: A new season begins!   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSat Apr 27, 2019 11:15 pm

Hay People,
That time of the season again, LOL. Yup, I got around to pulling this thing out of storage, (covered in a plastic tarp and shoved up under my Jeep hood). Looked it over real quick. Seemed good. Only one flat tire, the rear left one, LOL. Nothing was froze up rusted or anything like that.

Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20190425

I kept the battery in my basement all winter. Not the best place to store a battery but seemed ok at that moment. Threw in the battery. Forgot how tight of a fit it was. After struggling with the wires from under it it feel in. Put on the battery ends. I should replace the negative battery terminal because it is cracked but this will do for now. I dought it even draws 100 amps to start this thing. And everything is cleaned and snugged up.

Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20190426

I then pull out the dipstick. You would think that this motor has been sitting for atleast 5 months untouched that when I pull out the dipstick you would get an exact reading of how much oil is in the motor. Nope!! The red arrow is the reading and the light blue arrow is where it's suppose to be. For some reason beyond my state of thinking, got a false reading on the dipstick. Atleast there is oil in it, LOL. Sniffed it to make sure there is no gas in it, NOPE!! Shoved it back in and moved on.

Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20190428

Was a 1/4 tank of gas left in it over winter. Oops. I grab the gas can and top it off. Hopped on, locked the clutch, made sure the deck was up, turned the gas on, waited about 10 seconds, and turned the key, LOL. Waw, waw, waw, Vroom, LOL. After 3 strokes, it started right up. Love me a flattie, LOL. I know, headlights.

Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20190429

Let it run for a minute or two. Put it in gear, low/low, it doesn't move. No sweat, I try 3/low, and it moves. Shift linkage was stuck from rust. Shifted it up and down on the vari drive to free things up. Try low/low again and it works, cool. Drop the blades and cut the grass. Worked great. No big issues to complain about. I tried the higher gears on the vari drive just for kicks. Doesn't seem to be going into the higher gears too good. Plus switches gears very slow too. I finish cutting the grass for now.

I pretty much just threw the battery in, checked the oil, filled the tires, gassed it up, and started it. Not to bad. Very reliable for the most part. I got done what needed to be done for right now, and I'm happy.

After cutting the grass, before I turned it off, I wanted to check the vari drive. I put the transaxle in neutral so the belts can spin while out of gear. Pull off the tunnel cover to see the belts. Put the vari drive in first and pop the clutch. It spins fine. While it is spinning I drop the shifter in 7th and everything changes like it should, all the way to 7th gear but seemed slow.

Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20190431

Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 20190430

That will be my first fix. Making sure I get all the gears and it changes gears faster on the vari drive. This is the spring for the clutch pedal. Need to pull it tighter. I been thinking about it and I think I can use a piece of threaded rod to make an adjuster for this spring to pull it tighter. Should shift faster and will make sure I get all the gears on the vari drive.

Next will be a second clutch for the trans belt. So when there is tension on the driveline, hit this second clutch to release the tension and be able to shift gears on the transaxle with no problems, well I hope anyways.

Next will be the headlights. I bought a set of cheap LED's from Walmart but they are the long skinny ones and won't fit in the round holes, LOL. I can make them fit but won't look right. So I'll just buy another set, round ones this time.

Readjust the deck belt so the blades turn off and I can idle the engine.

My to do list for now.  Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 2731072446 Later
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Crazy_Carl
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Apr 28, 2019 10:36 am

You'll love LED headlights.

I'm pretty sure I'm seeing a couple rusted out holes in your deck. What kind of shape is the rest of the deck in?
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Apr 28, 2019 6:03 pm

Yup, those are holes Carl. I just noticed them too. Should be the worst of it in the pic. I pieced this deck together a year or 2 ago. Everything was used when I put it together but good. I think I went as far as taking the bearings out of the spindles to regrease them and put it back together. I need to find the original blades for this deck because the blades on it now are a couple inches smaller and leaves a line of grass uncut in the middle, LOL. Very annoying. Need to level the deck too. A bunch of little things to do still. But it works.
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Apr 28, 2019 7:36 pm

Did you cut out a bigger space for the battery? I know that allot of those MTDs had "less than average" battery space.

Yeah, a little rust ain't gonna hurt nothin'.
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PostSubject: Re: Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle   Vari drive with 5 speed transaxle - Page 6 Icon_minitimeSun Apr 28, 2019 7:43 pm

Yes. I cut out alot for the car battery to fit in there. I think when I did it, I cut out the most I could. Any more and I think I would have to relocate the shifter for the transaxle. I did the mod on page 5, in the middle of the page. Fits in there pretty tight. The battery is out of my Ford Escort. The original battery was like half the size, if not smaller.
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