Electric Clutch Repair

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Mar 21, 2005
Elderly County, Florida
Greetings and good evening to all in the land of Bitog, the great and powerful. So . . . . I have been "elected" property chairman at my Church. Went over this afternoon to cut the grass with our John Deere lawn tractor. I am happily cutting away under the Florida sun when the blades stop turning. It has an electric clutch and I pulled and pushed the knob repeatedly with no luck. The motor runs fine. The transmission works well. The blades simply will not engage. They are not stuck or jammed in anyway. What could be wrong. Could it be the switch? (The little yellow knob on the dash that engages the electric clutch). Could it be the clutch itself, and if so, aside from replacing it, what might it be in the clutch that I could repair? Is there a fuse somewhere along the way that might have burned out? If so, where does this fuse live? Said mower is a John Deere LX 188 FD501 with a water cooled Kawasaki Motor, 48 inch deck. In a word - HELP!!!
It could be a number of things. You need to get your multimeter out and start working backwards from the clutch. If you have power to the clutch and it doesn't work, then you have your answer. If you don't have power to the clutch, then check the connections, wiring, and the switch-simple common sense troubleshooting. To my knowledge there's nothing in the clutch to repair, at least the one that I did a few years ago on my old 325 wasn't serviceable. It was only about $50 or $60 at the Deere dealership, and it's easy enough to replace.
I've helped several friends/family members with an electric clutch issue. 1st-If the clutch will work after it cools down then it's an simple fix. The clutch is out of adjustment. There is 3 nylock nuts on the assimbly. To find the clutch follow the deck belt towards the engine. It's on the end of the crankshaft. There is 3 windows that feeler gauges slide into. Turn the nylock nuts till you get the clearence around .010-.015. Shouldn't take more then 1/4 turn. If that dosen't solve the issue then your in for checking all the interlock switches, wiring, and switches. Not fun at all. My bet is the clutch is out of adjustment.
What is the voltage of the battery when running? It should be something like 13 to 14 Volts. If the alternator is not working properly and the battery gets ran down (battery Voltage will be less than 12 Volts, and may be very low like 9 Volts or less), the clutch will not work.
Yep, like said, OPE E-clutches are not user serviceable that I've found. I've seen owners run over big sticks and whatnot and tear the wiring clear out of them. Like Jim said, I'd start by measuring voltage across the battery on an idling engine. Should be ~14VDC this way. The clutch won't hold reliably below 12VDC.
I disagree about the clutch not working below 12volts. I had my rectfier go bad and i dropped my bat voltage down to 10. Only way i knew i had an issue was headlights were yellow (was mowing @night). It can still work below 12volts.
It can work below 12v if it is not worn or the coil is weak. I vote that it needs adjusted if it works when cold. Replaced mine last year on my JD F510. 16 years old. It also started blowing fuses too.
I think the first place to check would be to apply battery voltage directly to the clutch itself and see if it locks up as it should. If not, then clutch work is in order. If it does, then further electrical snooping is indicated. IF the clutch is bad, and as mentioned, alignment is not the culprit, I've seen instances when they can be soaked with WD40 and allowed to set for a day or so, then blown out with air as well as possible, and begin working again. Sometimes it's junk, rust etc that keeps them from properly locking up. It's not a common problem, but I've seen air conditioning clutches and mower clutches benefit from this treatment. In some cases they continued to work for years, others failed again in a short time.
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