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 Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?

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mistavp05
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PostSubject: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:15 pm

Hey guys!

Short story:
Can I use Automatic Transmission fluid in my stock Murray Garden Tractor Peerless 820? It is purely a utility tractor for me, and at this point I don't plan on doing any modifications to the drivetrain to make it faster or to lock it, etc. I just need it to plow snow and putt around my property.


Long story:

First time posting here. I have been searching a multitude of subjects recently while trying to get my Peerless 820-028 to shift perfectly in all weather. This forum has popped up numerous times in my many quests. I know of Sprocket's Garage and Fearlessfront from their YouTube channels so I'm happy to be a part of this community.

My transaxle was stuck in gear whenever it got cold out, and I surmised that it must've gotten water in it somehow, causing it to freeze up.

Popped the little drain plug and saw a concerning amount of water come out, so I opened the case. Grease was light brown in color, and saturated.

I cleaned it out, then added a concoction of:
-8 parts 85W140 Heavy Duty Gear Oil
-1 part STENS "00" Grease (supposedly a more readily available version of Bentonite)
-1 part Lucas Oil Stabilizer

I thought I was doing the transaxle a favor by ensuring full coverage of gear oil mixed with the grease and stabilizer...


Closed up the case with some gasket maker, and mounted it back onto the tractor.

I then went out in the 2° January weather and proceeded to snow plow half of my driveway. The shifter began getting very tough to shift sometimes, until finally it got stuck in 2nd gear and wouldn't budge. I was able to get it back to the garage and after sitting for a couple hours and warming up, the shifter now flawlessly moves between gears.

So I am seeking an alternative lubricant so this doesn't happen again. Unfortunately, very low temperatures are here to stay so I want something that doesn't run the risk of congealing. Any reason why I can't/shouldn't use ATF? This tractor is a dedicated snow plow vehicle so I won't be modifying the drivetrain (how many of you guys started out saying that  lol! )
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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:28 pm

WOW, still got stuck, I'm thinking there is something wrong with the shift keys or the shaft that has the shift keys on it, or you got water back in it somehow. As long as everything inside the case is in good shape, it shouldn't of mattered what you put in it for lube especially it being a stock transaxle. ATF is a good of lubricant as anything else, but I would get the ATF lube for a Ford trans (ATF type F) Just because it is a little thicker then the others. Maybe the linkage from the shifter handle going to the transaxle is going bad somehow? That would be outside in the weather too and froze up somehow, maybe.

Hope you get it going, and Welcome to the forum.
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mistavp05
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:08 pm

@prancstaman wrote:
WOW, still got stuck, I'm thinking there is something wrong with the shift keys or the shaft that has the shift keys on it, or you got water back in it somehow. As long as everything inside the case is in good shape, it shouldn't of mattered what you put in it for lube especially it being a stock transaxle. ATF is a good of lubricant as anything else, but I would get the ATF lube for a Ford trans (ATF type F) Just because it is a little thicker then the others. Maybe the linkage from the shifter handle going to the transaxle is going bad somehow? That would be outside in the weather too and froze up somehow, maybe.

Hope you get it going, and Welcome to the forum.

Thank you! Yeah I was pretty perplexed that it got stuck in gear again. Then I read about how thick gear oil really doesn't like cold weather so I assumed it was that. I was hoping it wasn't something mechanical.

Do you know of a good source for Peerless replacement parts or should I just use eBay? I found a set of replacement keys for $15.. Seems like a good price.
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prancstaman
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:17 pm

I couldn't tell ya where to buy parts, sorry. Shift keys for an 820 are pretty tricky to get since there are 2 kinds that was used. I learned that from reading posts on this forum. Here is a thread where the guy had to buy shift keys for his 820. He posts the part numbers too. Never mind, LOL you found it. Tourmax and his build MUT.
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CraftsmanQuad19
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:18 pm

I would’ve thought it was the heavy lube in the cold too.

Careful which shift keys you order, there are two styles and they don’t interchange
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TourMax
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:51 pm

Mixing bentonite and regular oils or greases is not a good idea. Bentonite is a clay based grease and when mixed with “oil” it turns very runny and will start working it’s way out of every crack, joint or seal.

Regular oils and greases are “soap” based,  Bentonite is clay based. When mixed, they essentially “attack” and liquify each other, effectively destroying the lubricating and protective qualities of each lubricant.

Trivia point:  Bentonite grease gets it’s name from the specific type of clay used to make the product - Bentonite clay.

You’re better off to either go with 80w90 gear oil (or 85/140 is fine, doesnt matter as long as its a gear oil) OR Bentonite. But not both. If you do switch over to something other than Bentonite, make sure you get ALL of it out of the case.

I would not use an ATF in these gearboxes. These are straight cut gears and the shearing forces are very high on the gear faces. ATF is spec’d in some modern automotive manual transmissions, but that’s more for fuel efficiency than protection. The loading in a modern manual gearbox is very different from these old relics. You need the robustness of at least a gear oil in these boxes. Something designed to stand up to the high gear face loading you will see in both the speed gearing and the differential loading. ATF is not going to like the internal environment of these transaxles and it will end up offering less protection. Not to mention, ATF is meant to flow, not hang on surfaces. Gear oil and greases like Bentonite are designed with “tackifiers” to aid them in clinging to the gear faces as they spin and be less likely to be “flung” from where they need to be. That also means they “cling” when stopped as well. Lastly, when you park it, ATF is going to flow off the internal surfaces and sit in the bottom, like it would in an automatic transmission pan. ATF is meant to flow back to the sump where the pump can draw it back up and operate the pressurized circuits in an automative transmission. Gear oil/Bentonite will cling to the surfaces and maintain corrosion protection on the bare steel surfaces while the transaxle cools and condenses water out of the air.

I have a preference for the Bentonite in the 820, because that is what is spec’d by the manufacturer. Some guys use 80w90, for various reasons: cost, availablity, opinion that it works better, etc. To each thier own, but for my money: it’s Bentonite baby!

Smile

But it’s not cheap, nor is it easy to find. I got lucky and my local shop had a full sized bottle on the shelf that had been hanging around for years. They let me have it for more than half off the price, just to get rid of it.

Bentonite is also pretty hard stuff to work with. It’s impervious to water, so it’s damned near impossible to clean it up. Thats what makes it so hard to work with: hard to clean or remove. It’s also what makes it so good for the 820: it’s super tenacious goo and super hard to wash away.

In my experience, Varsol works best to cut it and wash it away from the transaxle parts. Citrius HD hand cleaner (with pumice) works best to get it off your skin, along with a stiff fingernail brush or one of those plastic scrubbies they use for surgical scubbing up. If you do mess with the Bentonite, wear clothes you can throw away (or not care about) and either cover the floor (and the bench, and the walls, and the ceiling, and...) or do it outside somewhere. This stuff ruins everything as it sticks to anything and spreads everywhere. The same properties that makes bentonite great inside a transaxle are also the same ones that make it a major PITA when it’s NOT in the transaxle....lol!

I use my 820’d Murray for the same uses you describe in down to -20c with none of the issues you are having. My transaxle is still running the Bentonite grease from 1991 without issue, although it is time for a thorough clean out and refill. The Bentonite is still in decent shape, it’s just time to refresh it.

Shift keys that are worn on thier tips (triangle part in the pics below) will catch and drag inside the gears, causing hard shifting or potentially, a stuck gear. Depending on how (or how badly) they are worn, it may even jump in and out of gear when driving. Mine was doing that in 5th gear before I installed the new keys.

The only thing that engages the gears in the transaxle is that tiny triangle shapped wedge, so any damage has very negative effects on the transaxle performance/behavior.

Be aware there are at least two part numbers for shift keys: 792180A and 792123A. As mentioned, they do not interchange:



The three keys are the 123A, the lone different one is the 180A.

I was able to order them from my local small engine shop if I wanted, but it was more affordable to find them on ebay and order them that way. The local shop was expensive for keys (almost 25 cdn for ONE key) and it was questionable if they could even get them anymore. Perrless 820 stuff is getting pretty old, so it’s getting harder to find parts for them these days. My ebay keys were “new old stock”. Meaning: they were lying around somewhere from long ago.

I would recommend actually pulling the keys out before ordering. I have found conflicting info regarding what versions of 820’s had which keys. My 820 is an 820-018 and I have found both style keys listed for it, depending on where you look up the parts.

A quick tip to make installing your keys easier is fo put them on the shaft, zip tie them in place and then compress the ends to slip the shift collar over the ends. Push it all forward until the tips just go inside the first gear and the shift collar is on the shaft. Then cut the zip tie off and finish assembling the gearbox. Because there are 4 keys and they are spring loaded, it is near impossible to hold them in place on the shaft while getting the shift collar on. The zip tie is your third set of hands.

Also be aware that the transaxle bolts are steel and the case is aluminum. The threads often strip out if you live in an area where corrosion is a problem. Mine was really bad, but I also live in Atlantic Canada where the lifespan of unprotected steel can be measured in weeks....

If they strip out, they can be repaired with a heli-coil insert. A heli-coil insert replaces the weak aluminum threads with a steel insert so they will never strip out again. It’s an easy process: drill out the stripped hole, tap threads in the new hole, locktite red thread locker on the insert, screw it into the new hole, give it a minute or so for the locktite to set up and then it’s ready to go. Because you are no longer running a steel bolt in and out of aluminum threads, the holes will never strip on you again.  

Some have replaced stripped out bolt holes with a longer bolt with a nut on the other side. That works if the hole goes through the case, not so well if one of the many “blind” holes in the case strip out.

My transaxle is now heli-coiled in every bolt bole. I got tired of them randomly stripping out and when I only had a few left that hadn’t been repaired, I just went ahead and replaced them all.  

When replacing the case bolts, make sure you use a good quality in/lb torque wrench. Run the bolts in lightly by hand, then torque to spec (180-218 in/lbs). You want to use the right torque setting for several reasons: not warping the case, seating bearings and shafts properly and most importantly on something this old - not stripping out the aluminum threads in the case.

Here’s a link to download the Peerless transaxle service manual: http://www.wfmfiles.com/download/Tecumseh-Peerless_Motion_Drive_System_-_Transmissions_&_Differentials(691218).pdf

That will tell you everything to know under the “820” chapter.

The 820 is a bit unique in the peerless line. It’s one of the few aluminum cased Peerless’s that is rated for ground engaging impliments. Tough stuff for a “lawn tractor”.

The Murray Garden tractors are kind of a “foot in two worlds” Garden tractor. They’re not as heavy duty as a “real” garden tractor, but they’re tougher than the typical “ride on” tractor.

Good luck.

Smile


Last edited by TourMax on Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:42 pm; edited 9 times in total
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muddstir
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:37 pm

I had a transaxle that didn't like to shift at times too (wasn't an 820 though) but here's what I did to fix it. Maybe something to look into.

Problem #1 it had slight rust spots in the keyway where the shift keys slid.
I tore the transaxle apart and used a wirewheel to clean up the shalf and keyways. While doing that I noticed a lot of slight grooves and burs on the shalf and keyway edge so I also took care of those as well. Then tested the shift keys in the keyway to make sure they slid freely.

Problem # 2 the plate where the shift detent balls ride on had a few rust spots along with the springs that press down on the balls were packed full of dried up grease and rust. So i took a wirewheel to the plate and cleaned all the old gunk out of the springs. Relubed up that system and made sure it operated freely as well.

The transaxle was used the in the fall and remained under the mower all winter in a tin storage shed with a wood floor. I bought it in the spring and when I tore into it there was water in it not a lot maybe 6fl.oz.  So it wasn't like the transaxle was poorly taken care of Or not used for years.
 
Might be something to look at if u open it back up.  Good luck and WELCOME To THE FORUM
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Crazy_Carl
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:24 am

I’d run 80W90 gear oil because I think 85w140 is a little thick for a transaxle of that design. These other guys are right on point about tearing it down, thoroughly cleaning it, and inspecting for burrs, rust pits, and wear.
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Sat Feb 02, 2019 8:26 am

Here is my two cents!  LOL

I would not run ATF in the 820.

You are running a utility tractor, so if it is affordable I would replace the Bentonite if you can afford it.

One of the reasons the mud guys run gear oil 80/90 is because they are going to get water and dirt in the transaxle.  It is much easier to replace and cheaper, but would it handle a load over time?  I dunno, but my sears 633a, the 122 spec 30 weight oil and my murray with a peerless 2300 spec 80/90 oil and they are all ground engaging garden tractors?

One thing I do know, I would not run ATF in the 820.

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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:37 am

Hey guys thanks for the feedback. Very helpful.

Quick thought I had while I await my Bentonite grease in the mail:

Is it possible a new belt that may be slightly too tight could cause my shifting issues?

I replaced the drive belt since there seemed to be a ton of slack in the original. (Not sure if it was ever changed before.) The new one is much tighter than the one I took off. I was barely able to get it on. But once it settled in to the v grooves of both pulleys it SEEMS to have enough slack to not be constantly engaged..

Could this be my problem? Would really like to avoid taking my transaxle apart again if it's not needed. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:12 am

You probably don't want to hear this, but I'd say 90+% of the time an 820 that either has problems shifting or popping out of gear is a worn shift key problem.

It takes very little wear on the key faces to cause problems. Good thing is they are spring steel, so they are very resistant to wear. Bad thing is most older tractors with an are "shift by feel" instead of a positive stop location for the gear, which means many times an operator isn't always positively engaged in the gear, allowing the key to slip. Each time it slips, it incurs wear.  

If your shift pattern looks like this:



I'd put money on worn keys.

It's very easy to find a gear, yet not be fully engaged. Most lawn tractors are built like this, where the shifter is really "ambiguous" and you kind of have to "feel" for the clunk. Most of the time you get it, but sometimes you don't get it just right and tit slips out, this is what wears the keys.

Shift keys are pretty lame, I wish they were designed with gear dogs and forks. Much more postive engagement. Oh well, one can dream....


Last edited by TourMax on Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:36 am; edited 2 times in total
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TourMax
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:30 am

Here's the keys I pulled out of my 820:



The little triangle piece is all that holds your gears in the selected gear. Some of those it's pretty ovious they're worn, but even the second key in the picture is worn enough to cause issues with shifting.

Sorry to say, but I'm betting you're going to be pulling that box apart again.....
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Crazy_Carl
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PostSubject: Re: Low Speed Tractor w/ Peerless 820 + Automatic Transmission Fluid = ?   Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:59 am

Another possible issue that I have seen cause a similar problem is the lack of a clutch/brake. Your belt was really loose before so when you pushed it the clutch the engine was completely disconnected from the trans. With the tighter belt, the engine is perhaps applying a tiny bit of torque to the input shaft making it very difficult to shift with the engine running and the clutch pushed in all the way. I've seen that issue alleviated with either an adjustable idler pulley or adding in a clutch brake.
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