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Old 07-01-2011, 12:22 PM   #1
mercman1951
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Craftsman LT4000

Hi All,

Lurker for a while/first post here.... I've been researching the best all around tractor to purchase for a while. I came upon the older JD 316-318 series and have been looking for a suitable candidate to buy locally to work our 2 acre homestead. A 400 or 425 would be a dream, but anyhow....

In the meantime, we are being GIVEN (for free) a 1996-ish Craftsman LT 4000. See pic. I know these tractors aren't worth much, and I don't know much about it, but from the pic it looks decent and has been taken care of. We were told it has a V-twin 18 HP engine (Briggs?), and a 42" deck. It looks to have a 6-speed. The only catch - it has no reverse. It is being given to us by a friend, so I don't doubt he believes it will be useful to us.

I understand the Craftsman tractors are more for lawn cutting these days, but this unit seems to have been made before all of the offshore production started taking place, and I plan to plow snow with it too and tow a yard trailer.

I can find little info (good or bad) on this particular unit; I was wondering if anyone out there had a similar tractor that also had no reverse. I'm wondering if it would be a simple fix, or a problem with the transaxle?



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Old 07-01-2011, 12:31 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! I have a 316 and the series you seek are certainly desireable to the core, however, there are other good comparable machines out there, though the Deeres just look so much cooler with that green paint! Is the unit you have now geared or hydrostat?



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Old 07-01-2011, 12:43 PM   #3
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I don't own a tractor. In fact, technically, I don't own the house or land either. We are closing on our new home with 2 acres next Tuesday. The free tractor is being delivered then as well. I don't know for sure, but after studying the pictures, I believe the free tractor has the 6 speed (geared).

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Old 07-01-2011, 02:34 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum. Think your best bet is to find out who made the transaxle and which model. I'm sure you will find other makes that use the same unit. Might be easier to get help on the how-to if all uses of this transaxle are know. I'm sure parts are available from Sears.

If you are looking at a JD 3xx series tractor, be aware that the Onan engine used in many of these has been out of production for at least a decade. Parts are still available but parts for Onan engines are spendy.

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Old 07-01-2011, 11:01 PM   #5
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Welcome! From the pics,it looks like a vari-drive,which means it will have the single speed transaxle.Does it make any attempt to move in reverse,or any kind of noise(whining/grinding)? I would suggest checking the shift linkages,and make sure it's adjusted properly.Does it operate in all the forward gears,and when you put it in 6th,does the shifter sit in the 6th-gear position easily, ordoes it seem to feel like it has to be pushed in?

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Old 07-01-2011, 11:43 PM   #6
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WHoops! I stand corrected! That model has a peerless transaxle,model 930-054A,and I remember a tech telling me at one time that they some times broke the "shift keys",which woul cause some shift problems.A new trans is available,from Sears($280.00),or you can find a used one,($50-$100).First,though,I'd check the shift linkage for being out of adjustment.

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Old 07-04-2011, 06:31 AM   #7
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If its a manual, you should be able to open it up and see what the problem is - i cracked open my 99 weedeater's trans to find rust on the indexer shaft- caused the shifter to lock in place- some cleaning and greasing was good to go.

Mine is a 5 speed- only real pain was the small detent ball for the shifter and all the bennonite grease ( wear gloves if you attempt it) - since you say it doesnt have reverse- almost sounds like the reverse chain might be broken inside the trans.

Id say unless the yard is difficult to manuver around- driving it w/o reverse shouldnt be a real issue .

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Old 07-05-2011, 06:45 AM   #8
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Thanks all for the replies thus far. We'll be getting the tractor today, and I'll report back with any updates.

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Old 07-05-2011, 06:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey View Post
If you are looking at a JD 3xx series tractor, be aware that the Onan engine used in many of these has been out of production for at least a decade. Parts are still available but parts for Onan engines are spendy.
I thought one of the reasons these tractors were so desirable was because the engines shouldn't need any parts.
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Old 07-06-2011, 07:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhngardner367 View Post
WHoops! I stand corrected! That model has a peerless transaxle,model 930-054A,and I remember a tech telling me at one time that they some times broke the "shift keys",which woul cause some shift problems.A new trans is available,from Sears($280.00),or you can find a used one,($50-$100).First,though,I'd check the shift linkage for being out of adjustment.

If the shift keys broke, you wouldn't have any gears. I've replaced them from time to time. The only way you will be able to determine what's wrong inside the transmission is if you pull the transmission and split it (assuming there even is a problem with the trans). They are pretty simple affairs, just keep track of where everything goes and you shouldn't have any problems getting it back together. Before I did that, I'd check the linkages and make sure the lever is even able to make it into the reverse position. As was mentioned before, there are detent balls in the trans that sometimes stick and keep the lever from moving like it should. You should be able to access them from the outside of the trans, but you will most likely have to remove the trans to get at them unless you have clear access to the top of the transmission. There should be two screw plugs on the top of the trans near the shift linkage that you can unscrew (there's a spring behind them so be careful) and remove the spring and ball assembly for cleaning and lubrication. You may have to remove the pulley from the top of the transmission to get at the plugs.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
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I thought one of the reasons these tractors were so desirable was because the engines shouldn't need any parts.
Yes the engines were/are fairly reliable but design is quite dated, going beck to the 60's. They should last close to 2000 hrs in this kind of application. If you ever have to make repairs, be prepared to dig deep into the wallet. Lost the Gov on mine and I did all the work but still spent something like $150 for parts to fix it.
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:36 PM   #12
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Thanks all for the replies thus far. We'll be getting the tractor today, and I'll report back with any updates.

Well we've mowed our 2 acre yard 1 1/2 times so far. It works well in forward. It does not have reverse as mentioned, although it feels like the lever flexes in your hand before it fully engages into the reverse position. Like it's not going back far enough, blocked by something. I'm thinking the detent is full of crud and not letting the lever fully go backwards and allow the trans to engage reverse.
Outside of mowing with it and fixing a front end that was ready to fall off, I haven't had any time to dig deeper into the issue. It's amazingly clean for it's age. So clean, in fact, and the engine so new-looking, that I asked if it had been replaced. The answer was no. The 19 HP Briggs moves it along in 6th gear fairly quickly.

I plan to add a deck wash port or two, anybody ever home-make one? Been trying to come up with a setup from the hardware store I can bolt on. I've seen the 11 "kit" online.
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Old 07-28-2011, 11:54 AM   #13
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Don't think much of the wash out ports. Had one on one of my machines and IMO didn't get the job done. Matter of fact that's the only deck I've had that rusted out. There is no substitute for removing the deck and manually cleaning it. This is especially true if you have to deal with wet grass in the spring time.



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