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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I have a 2003 Conquest that I bought new and have been using the 2 stage blower for snow removal. Over the last couple years I’ve been having occasional issues with forward and reverse not wanting to engage when the blower’s sub-frame hitch is installed – no issues at all when no attachments or just the mower deck. I finally diagnosed the issue which is the sub-frame’s rear hook (it rests on top of the lift shaft / cross bar) is interfering with a drive belt / brake pulley.

What’s happening is when you release the brake the pulley isn’t able to go back to the neutral position because it hits the sub-frame hook. I can get it to go to neutral by quickly grabbing the drive belt or push up a bit on the pulley.

When it’s working properly the pulley sits just above the hook and there is very little to no clearance between then. There appears to be a small amount of wear on the pulley but hardly noticeable. With the setup working fine for about 13 years and only appearing the last 2 or 3 something must have changed. The shaft and hook position is pretty much fixed so I’m assuming the pulley is lower than it was. Does anyone have any ideas what might be going on? Maybe just wear and tear, or putting on a new drive belt caused it to drop down?

Any help is much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Finally got it fixed up. There was some definite play in the idler assembly in that it could slide up and down the pivot pin. When everything is working as it should there’s only about 3/16” between the pulley and subframe hitch hook, so the idler sliding down just a little causes problems. I ended up removing the idler assembly and replacing most of the parts, so here’s some details.

It wasn’t too difficult to remove the idler assembly. First you need to remove the pulleys, belt, engage the parking brake, remove spring, then take off the clip at the bottom. It has 3 rods attached - the brake rod (front one) needs to be detached at the idler assembly. The others can be detached at the rear of the tractor and left on the assembly, then remove them after you’ve taken it out.

I ended up replacing the 4 nylon bushings, both pulleys, main idler assembly/arm, and brake rod. Nothing seemed worn enough to account for why the assembly was hanging lower and hitting the sub-frame hook. The bushings were in pretty good shape with 1 worn a bit. The pulley’s were only OK with their rotation slightly rough.

I replaced the main idler assembly because the pin the brake rod attaches to was worn about a third of the way through. The brake rod was also severely worn where it attaches to that pin. The new assembly differs in that the spacer on the pin is welded to it, and there’s no grease fitting. The lack of the fitting concerns me because if the pivot pin wears out it will be a huge pain to fix. The wear on the brake rod was severe so I added a washer underneath it.

The pin where the brake rod attaches to the brake pedal is nearly impossible to get to. There’s a plate underneath it that holds the brake and gas pedal linkages. It’s held on by 4 bolts and will drop down just far enough to get to the brake rod’s pin. I think I also had to remove a couple other pins on some linkages.

After all the above the assembly still dropped more than it should so I ended up adding a washer at the bottom of the pivot pin. Adding this washer could be a quick fix but due to all the wear on other parts I recommend you tear it down and replace as needed.
 
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