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O.T.--Riding Lawnmower Spindle Bearings Heads Up

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  • O.T.--Riding Lawnmower Spindle Bearings Heads Up

    Mowing season is here so of course I've been replacing mower deck spindles for friends/neighbors/customers.
    So far I've done about 4 sets of spindle bearings and sometimes I've had to replace the entire spindle assembly due to the extensive damage incurred. I think I've got two more to do.

    The reason I'm posting this is that I have noticed a disturbing trend in all of these bearing failures despite the spindles all being equipped with a grease fitting and the owners claiming to have greased them once or twice a season. So far these are all units that are several years old at least.
    Upon disassembling the spindles on each failed unit I find that they have so far been equipped with 2RS bearings top and bottom. In other words, with a grease fitting between the two sealed bearings any grease pumped into the cavity between the bearings has nowhere to go!

    Most decks are sourced from only a couple of manufactures so the problem is pretty prevalent irrespective of what brand and color you riding mower is. I'm not saying all decks have this glaring oversight but so far, (luck of the draw), all I've done lately are equipped with two 2RS bearings top and bottom and have failed due to water intrusion and debris contamination .

    In a perfect world totally sealed bearings would be great but for this application they just do not stand up to the harsh environment, thus the original spindle design and engineering requirement for a grease fitting.
    I looked into this issue a little last night and found a great and very recent video that corroborates my findings and gives a great explanation to this strange, or should I say idiotic, design or part selection flaw.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3eC2OIg85o&t=66s
    Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
    Bad Decisions Make Good Stories

  • #2
    That is kinda crazy Willy --- although a grease guns hydraulic pressure could easily override the seals ability to old it back - it would most likely distort the seals casing and then blow the other seal out on the other side of the bearing,,, probably not a welcome thing either as you would not have nay kind of dirt guard at all - im thinking shielded bearing would be the best way to go... ?

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    • #3
      Another reason I like my 1967 Cub Cadet. Cast iron bearing housings with taper bearings.

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      • #4
        It seems it would be a good idea to tear down the spindles of a new mower and check to make sure the inside seals were not there and if there remove them. Do these mowers have oil seals on the top and bottom? Or do they rely on the bearing seals to keep out debris and water?
        How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Black Forest View Post
          It seems it would be a good idea to tear down the spindles of a new mower and check to make sure the inside seals were not there and if there remove them. Do these mowers have oil seals on the top and bottom? Or do they rely on the bearing seals to keep out debris and water?
          So far pretty much as shown in the video, sealed bearing only. No sense building them to last. LOL

          I have recently built a a small hoist in order to raise the mower almost vertically in order to thoroughly clean the deck after each use. Not only to ensure the aerodynamics and vacuum effect remains effective but also to ensure that my deck does not rust out in a few years. I'll post a thread with photos next time I use it.
          Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
          Bad Decisions Make Good Stories

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          • #6
            I am thinking labyrinth shield bearings would work better than 2RS.
            Lets the grease in and still protects the bearing.


            -Doozer
            DZER

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Doozer View Post
              I am thinking labyrinth shield bearings would work better than 2RS.
              Lets the grease in and still protects the bearing.


              -Doozer
              And/or a slinger washer on the shaft just inder the bearing..... throws off water and grit, so it is not as likel to enter through the seals (which are never perfect).

              Regular greasing beats seals in many cases, since it carries the grit OUT in the expelled grease. Of course "that grease and dirt (potential hazmat) cannot be allowed out into the environment", so a tiny amount of grease inside the sealed bearing is "far superior"...... right.....
              1601

              Keep eye on ball.
              Hashim Khan

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              • #8
                I was recently, rebuilding two of the spindles in my old Snapper Zero, and put this same question to the Snapper dealer where I was purchasing my parts. He said the grease points are needed to keep water out of the bearing area.

                Sarge41

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                • #9
                  I have a 14 yo toro ztr and have never replaced the bearings on it or any other mower I’ve ever had. I think the primary reason is I do not hose off my mower and do not cut the grass when it’s wet.
                  I blow my mower deck off after each use but that’s it. FYI my spindles have no grease zero either
                  The only grease is the front tire spindles.

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                  • #10
                    I discovered this back in the mid 80's when I bought a Ford 100 garden tractor that came with a 36" snowblower and a 48" mower. These tractors were made from 1966 - 1968 so they've been building them like this for a very long time.

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                    • #11
                      Huh?

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                      • #12
                        For the people who don't know this yet, the seal is not designed to withstand any kind of water jet. So if you're in the habit of hosing down your spindle you should expect the bearings to fail quickly.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Willy View Post
                          I looked into this issue a little last night and found a great and very recent video that corroborates my findings and gives a great explanation to this strange, or should I say idiotic, design or part selection flaw.

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3eC2OIg85o&t=66s
                          I used to do a LOT of mower spindles.I quit because most are throw aways now.

                          Part selection in these comes down to cost,the cheapest bearing is a Chinese 2rs bearing,no kidding,2z shielded bearings cost more,only $.10-.15 more,but still more.
                          The shaft itself is made in a cold header in a similar process as the one used to make bolts.The better quality spindles have both bearing diameters and the blade flange machined after forming,the cheaper ones do not.

                          Basically there are reasons why those spindles can be had,complete on Amazon for $25 including free 2-day shipping,and quality isn't one of them.

                          https://www.amazon.com/Specs-mountin...gateway&sr=8-3

                          On my brother's mower I repleced the bearings with Nachi (Japan) 2rs bearings and threw the grease fittings away(he has a tendency to over-grease everything)so far they have gone four seasons on a mower that looks like it's been through a scrap shredder,so I am in the "better sealed bearings and don't bother with the grease" camp.Oh and those spindles have a thin steel washer that shields the bearing from seal damage,something the newer,cheaper ones don't have.
                          I just need one more tool,just one!

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                          • #14
                            Funny you started a thread on this. I just replaced a couple bearings on my 1964 Simplicity 42" deck last week. I was going to post some pics of it but never got around to it.
                            I always wondered the same. The factory original bearings were Fafnir. They lasted all of 10 years before any went bad. The first time I went to replace them the first thing I noticed was the bearings were shielded, not rubber seals. Each of the three housings had a grease fitting but since the bearings had the shield on the inside how is the grease suppose to get to the bearing?? The other thing is the housing where the bearings are pressed into are about 2 1/2" in dia. and about 3" long. You would have to pump at least a full tube of grease into each housing before the grease could push into the bearings and then it would have to get past the shield and it usually finds other places to ooze out. I removed the shield off the inside of each bearing so the grease could get to it. They are still going.
                            I replaced them with the original Fafnir bearings, no Chinese import crap because I didn't feel like doing this every year.

                            JL.............

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                            • #15
                              Wow. I retired my 72 Simplicity a few years ago but from the posts here it looks like I should have kept it going for at least another 10 years.
                              OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                              THINK HARDER

                              BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

                              MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

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