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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This has probably already been a topic on here hundreds of times, but I recently picked up a John Deere 110 for $150. Has the 10HP Kohler cast iron option. Hood was shot so I'm picking a new one up soon.
Tractor needed some carb work but got the engine running with little trouble. Tractor drives but variator acts up. This is my first JD with the variable speed control so not really sure where to start. I've worked on the MTD variable speed drive things, and I hate them.

In 4th (or any gear for that matter) with the engine at full speed the variator only allows the tractor to accelerate from slow speed to full speed occasionally. Most of the time you have to pull back the pedal by yourself. This is very hard to do as well. Pedal seems very stiff when pulling it back. Depressing it to release the clutch works fine, however. In the slowest "range" setting, the tractor won't move at all, or sometimes it does. It changes from day to day it seems. Also, when you push the clutch pedal down, occasionally it'll have a really nerve racking "metal-on-metal" sound, as if the variator clutch is bottoming out into the frame of the tractor or something. I've heard multiple things that it could be. Variator spring, locked up sheave, bad bearing, weak or stretched belts, misalignment (even though I did the setup procedure multiple times), but I can't seem to get a definitive answer. I'm starting to lean more towards bad belts and the variator needing to be cleaned and re-lubricated, but not entirely sure. I did pick up some dry graphite lube in case it is the variator.

Was wondering if anyone out here has ever had this same problem and if there's a good way to fix it other than deleting the variator clutch entirely which I may do. I'd rather not change the configuration but I do prefer a straight belt setup as opposed to the CVT type setup it has. I've heard this can result in belt "whipping" however.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 

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There could be a number of things to fix. The center sheave of the variator must slide side to side.. the belts need to be JD and the right length. the variator pivots on a pipe sleave that may have not been greased in a long time. Get under the tractor and look up thru the frame to see the grease fitting. I got a 72 112 that the variato pivot was frozen and the PO just ground the tranny into gear. Another important part is the belt guard loop around the primary belt mounted on the engine block.:welcome:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A pair of new belts for these things is king thats true as is a shot of lube. Kind of sounds like the helper spring for the pedal is broke or missing.
I thought this might be the case but the spring is under there and connected. It may be weak, I'm not sure, but it's definitely not broke or gone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There could be a number of things to fix. The center sheave of the variator must slide side to side.. the belts need to be JD and the right length. the variator pivots on a pipe sleave that may have not been greased in a long time. Get under the tractor and look up thru the frame to see the grease fitting. I got a 72 112 that the variato pivot was frozen and the PO just ground the tranny into gear. Another important part is the belt guard loop around the primary belt mounted on the engine block.:welcome:
So the variator has a grease fitting? I've heard of it but I've never seen it. I looked under there when I was changing the transaxle oil and didn't see a grease fitting but then again I wasn't exactly looking for one. How important are new belts for these? I've heard they don't wear out very fast but then again I wouldn't be surprised by the color of the oil that came out of the trans if they weren't original belts from '72. Whoever owned this one, well, didn't exactly know how to maintain it. The trans was grinding in second and didn't want to lock into gear, so I decided to change the oil as I do whenever I get a new tractor, and what came out was an off-white mess. Obviously full of water. With the new oil it's much quieter and the trans pulls like it's brand new. No more grinding.

Thanks for the welcome by the way! I'm part of ATLTF, Sprocket's Garage and the other groups but since I'm getting into older John Deere tractors I figured I'd join this group too.
 

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Ok sounds good. Not a big deal to change but you do have to pull the transmission pulley off with just 3 bolts. I dropped my pulley size by one inch and then run a 2 inch shorter belt. Thats just me. I dont change them very often (after 25 years) but now it just comes right off.
 

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There are 2 springs on the variator system and both need to be there and the short one in the middle can be adjusted to work faster. It is held on on one end with an eye bolt. If you shorten the bolt by tightening it the variator will react faster. Roger
 

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Interested to see what the fix is, I have the same problem right now with a 1973 110 with the Kohler 10 Hp we're restoring. Have bought all new Deere belts and springs, adjusted per the manual at least 10 times, took variator out and took it all apart, cleaned and greased the pivot, Dry lubed the center sheave, slides great like it should, still can't get it to drive right. Have worked on many other deeres with the variator and never had these problems. I have to wonder if deere gave me the wrong belts; but the numbers stamped on the belts match up perfectly to the online parts catalog. I have another machine of the same vintage and two pedal setup that works flawlessly, but it's never been apart. My next step is to take the old belts off it and put them on the newly restored machine, just to see if it helps. My helper Buddy is stumped as well.
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:canada: I went through similar troubles with my 1974 112 inside the past year.It got to the point where the variater would only work in one notch, and even then i would have to pull on the peddle to make it go.No amount of adjustment would fix it.I finally took the whole assembly out, and found that the pivot bushing was seized inside the tube.It was pivoting on the bolt, and not willingly!By then my not very old primary belt was quite worn from slipping a lot.I freed up the pivot, installed a new tension spring and new belts.Did the set up as per the manual, and bingo,it works better than it has since i have owned the tractor. It is not a complicated system, and is so nice when working,but needs to be maintained and all moving parts must move without being sticky or binding.On the restoration project, i would check the assembly again, and actually measure the new belts and compare to others you have, in the event there was a screw up on length right from the manufacturer. GOOD LUCK
 

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My 1974 112 had problems with the variator slowing the tractor down under a load such as pulling an empty trailer in forth gear up a slight hill, or plowing dirt in 3rd gear. I had installed new belts, lubed the pivot and graphited the variator movable pulley, but the problem persisted.

I finally solved the problem by installing a SECOND variator return spring. The clutch pedal is harder to push down, but it works perfectly now.
Hope this helps.

Don B.
 
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I figured since I bought a brand new spring I was in good shape but I'm going to give that a try. I still have the old one somewhere. Thanks!
You may need to use an "S" hook on one end and a ratcheting tie down strap to stretch the second spring into place. Good Luck!
 
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Welcome! I have a 110 that has similar issue with the variator. I put new belts and springs on it but still won't change speeds. I bought it a couple months ago and the weather (snow) has me at a stand still. I was wondering if you have any of the manuals? I have a technical file I could email you if you need one! The manuals are not cheap and alot of the reproductions are low quality, but they are a must in my opinion if you are going to own and maintain one of these fine machines. The variator is a pain to work on sometimes especially if the machine has been outside over the winter. The speed control the variator allows is very handy especially for snowblowing and to a lesser extent rototilling. I hope you get it figured out, sometimes it takes alot of patience and perseverance! You joined the correct forum to get spot on info!
 

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So the fix for us ended up being an s hook from an old rubber tie down.

We first tried the extra spring for more tension and that didn't work out, so we thought we'd try LESS spring tension by using an s hook between the rod link and spring.

Bingo it drives like it should. Who'd a thunk it.

I think the valuable takeaway is once you've replaced/greased/graphited everything, is to play with the small upper spring tension between the tranny and variator. Next time I'll use a turnbuckle for more adjustment.

Many thanks to everyone for your help and ideas, especially Mr. Don who got us looking at the small upper spring.
 
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