With some help for the two handed requirements, a good set of extra eyes, some elbow grease, select curse words, and good old sweat, I added some of my blood to the grime removed to change the spindles on a riding mower deck. It was about a three hour task, which means a well trained mechanic could accomplish the task in about an hour. It was an interesting experience, and made me aware of some things I didn't know.
The mower is a Cub Cadet ZT 1 zero turn mower, with a 54 inch deck. It has three blades, so there are three spindles, two idler pulleys, one tensioning pully, and a really long drive belt. That's pretty standard, but what I really found to be odd are the spindles.
My earlier experience with mower decks was with spindles that could be rebuilt, if you had a good press. The housing were steel, the bearings were greased once a season, and the assembly was held on the deck with 1/4 inch bolts. The pulleys were easily replaced, if needed, and reused during a change.
This deck is different. The bearing housings are some type of lightweight alloy, the bearings are sealed, and the spindles are mounted with self-tapping screws. Rebuilding the spindles could probably be done, but realistically, it would requires more than I have available. Small mistakes could ruin the fragile housings, and remounting the spindle would require drilling out the mounting holes, and replacing the self-tapping screws with bolts. That, and removing the pulley would probably guarantee disaster.
It went well for a first time effort, and will probably need to be done in about three years. According to the experts, that's about the life of a mower spindle with amount of grass that's is cut during our season. I was satisfied, and the whine, with the uneven cut disappeared.
From my research, I determined the mower is one step below a commercial mower. That's understandable, since a commercial mower is around twice the price. I was impressed with the deck, since it's a welded deck, the condition is excellent, and will probably last the life of the mower. I've had to change stamped decks, which don't ever seem to last the life of a mower.
So, I have some new knowledge of mower deck repair, and old fart's remorse. Moving around under a mower deck is not nearly as easy as it once was, and muscle cramps lead to strange contortions, which spectators find disconcerting.