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Two questions:

1) I can shift between gears without pushing any pedals down, the gear holds but it does not feel locked in like other gear tractors I have. The tractor is not running so hard to tell at this point if its stripped. Should this be a concern?

2) Does any one have any pics or diagrams from the 70 manual on the belt routing on the underside for the drive belt? Thanks!
 

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1) No you can NOT shift without the clutch or moving. Technically you could but you would soon be buying a new transmission.

2) Belt routing is the 70 owners manual and I have found it in a few other manuals. Unfortunately JD copyrights its manuals so you have to buy used or order one through JD. If you are friendly with your JD dealer he/she might make a copy for you. Otherwise E-bay or possibly a want ad here. JD also has a bunch of lawyers that like to enforce this copyright thing. You might also look in JD parts but I don't think the drawings are detailed enough for the routing. Roger
 

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You can NOT change gears without damaging the transmission. The gears are straight cut and non synchronized. The newer lawn tractors (108 and up) use a lighter transmission that the gears are in constant mesh similar to what a motorcycle uses. The gears in those do not move but in a 70 the gears move in and out of mesh with each other. Yes the belt has a 90 degree twist in and goes over the bigger of the middle pulleys and the upper engine pulley. There is a idler that pulls against the belt in front off the big pulley. You need to hold the idler out of the way to get the belt on. Belt comes off the right side of the engine pulley bends at the idler and goes up and over the big middle pulley and then back to the left side of the engine pulley. You have to put the back belt on first and the front on second and the mower belt on last. Roger
 

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JD, Below is an illustration of the internals of the Peerless model 1206 transaxle as found in John Deere parts catalog PC1187 (complements of JDParts). When shifting, the end of the shift lever will engage one of two forks (key #3 below). One fork controls reverse-first, the other controls second-third. The fork in turn will slide the appropriate gear(s) into mesh. Shifting with the tractor input shaft in motion and under load is ill advised for the reasons Roger already noted. However, after having logged hundreds hours using my JD 100 (which also has the same transaxle model as the 60/70) I can tell you that my experience with the 1206 transaxle is that it is considerably more tolerant in shifting with slight input shaft rotation than the 2300 series transaxles that was used in the 110/112 and original 200 series JD garden tractors. You should be concerned if either of the detent balls/springs (key #1 & #2) are failing to keep the forks (key #3) from freely sliding on the appropriate shifter rod (key #4 & #7). If this is the case the transaxle can either freely jump out of gear or, even worse, attempt to put the transaxle into two different gears at the same time.

 
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