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  1. Sears Suburban Rearend Removal; Brake and Belt...

    This is a detailed tutorial on the removal of a Sears Suburban rear end/transaxle including brake band and main drive belt replacement.

    This tutorial is to give a step by step instructional on the removal of a Sears Suburban rear-end/transaxle, brake band replacement, and belt replacement. The tractor used in this write up is a 1977 16/6 with gas tank under the seat, but these general instructions should encompass 1966-1979 Suburbans with just a few minor differences.
    The following video link is from another member, MH81, who replaced a rear and the video has some good tips. One difference in these instructions will be to use a floor jack for removal, in video a ceiling mounted winch was used to lift tractor off of rear.

    Here is another link to a thread from member TX_Dj. He shows removal also, but his is more involved as he also rebuild transaxle while out of tractor.


    First step is to remove any attachments; this one has a mower deck which was removed.

    While tractor is still on ground, remove the attachment bracket under the tractor ( if installed) from the frame. There are two nuts/bolts seen in pic on each side, bracket will slide down off of frame. The front part of rear will hit if not removed making removal very difficult.

    At this time you can also remove the parking brake lever. Remove the self locking nut and slide handle off. Note there is a spring washer under the handle. The stud coming through frame should stay in place, you can push it in slightly to make sure it is lose.
    Be careful on removal, there is a thick spacer on stud behind frame. It should rotate free on the stud and can slip off and roll across the floor and get lost,….you know it will happen!

    This is a good point to also disconnect brake rod. Slide under tractor after you remove the parking brake lever and you will see a large adjustable link between the front/back sections of the brake rod. Loosen the locking nut that’s against the link, then begin unscrewing link so that both halves of the brakes rod(s) come apart.
    You can also remove the entire rod from the front where it attaches to the clutch rod by removing a cotter pin, but while a little more time consuming, it’s much easier to remove the link and you won’t have that long rod to fight with when replacing rear into tractor.

    Rod attachment at clutch rod

    Next, block front wheels and jack the rear of tractor up fairly high so rear-end will slide out from the back. Place jack stands under frame approx where bracket was just removed. The long floor boards suburbans have an extra bracket under them, this is a good spot to place stands or find a good spot on frame.
    NOTE: In the video, it is shown to place block between front axle and frame to prevent Tractor from rocking, this is HIGHLY recommended. This tractor fell off jack when it was lifted to removed stands and replace wheels ( tires are loaded so very heavy, tractor was being lowered for tire mounting), the weight shifted and tractor crashed to ground, thank fully rear-end case did not crack. Had the front axle been braced, it would not have been able to shift.

    Now move to the rear of the tractor and remove the gas tank strap and rear plate (this is not required on 66-74 tractors as gas tank is under hood, but factory tool box, if present, needs removed). This tractor had gas tank replaced and upper strap was not replaced (it is shown in video), but you need to pull lens from light, remove the light and those bolts also hold strap. Once removed, you can remove the strap and place out of the way.

    Now remove the 2 bolts on each side of the rear plate from the fenders and remove it. You can now drain and remove gas tank or as in pics, lift gas tank slightly in the rear and remove both nuts under tank holding seat bracket. NOTE, be careful with moving tank around, the plastic nipple on bottom can be easily broken off. You can then lift & wiggle seat/bracket out from under gas tank and remove from tractor. This is needed as there is 2 bolts on the top of rear that hold rear-end that must be removed, located under gas tank. Push gas tank back slightly and remove those two bolts. This is also a good time to inspect and replace gas lines if needed.

    There is another option of removing the two forward bolts holding the bracket that is bolted to rear. This is much harder as they have nuts on the under side of the frame, better be a contortionist with small hands to get to them. REmoving these two bolts is much easier once gas tank is loose/removed ( Gas tank under hood of older suburbans)

    Now on to removing the rear itself.
    The fill tube plug and elbow will have to be removed. Unscrew the plug from the top, then remove the elbow. WARNING- if rear is full of oil, it will leak out, have a pan ready. You can immediately put plug in the hole and finger tighten. It can be left in during removal, but can hang up on frame.

    Before dropping rear, the Hi/low lever must be detached from rear. By looking in between frame and hitch plate on the right side, you can see lever and a cotter key holding it on. It will need to be removed, a box end wrench was used to pull ends of cotter key together then pushed through a little. Once it is through a little, slide under tractor, insert screwdriver in eye of cotter pin and pull it the rest of the way out. Lever should swing free.
    View between frame/hitch plate

    Under tractor

    Now remove the lower bolts holding rear-end in tractor, make sure a jack is located under rear before removing any bolts. This can be done two ways, remove the 2 lower bolts that hold rear to frame ( blue circles) to remove rear only or remove the 3 bolts which hold both rear and back hitch plate (red circle) and remove them as an assembly. After doing both ways, it’s much easier to remove the lower 2 bolts from the rear, especially if the 3 pt hitch is left bolted on.
    Once desired side bolts are removed, slowly begin lowering rear. If you let rear down, tilt to the right side( elt side), once the mounting boss on the rear slides down below frame, you can pull it out slightly; this allows room for the oil plug to slide out of frame slot and clear frame on the left side. Once rear is free, drop it slightly and remove the two bolts holding the belt guard in place. Once that is removed, remove belt and lower rear and pull out of frame. You may need to remove the shifter ball from the shifter also as it can hang up, it seems to be easier to remove it.

    Remove the two bolts to remove belt keeper

    Rear out of tractor

    rear with hitch plate

    Now that the rear is out, move on to replacing the brake band. The band is held on by a large bolt/nut on the top of the engagement lever, the bottom has two small bolts/nuts that hold to rear. All need removed and band can be pulled over brake drum.

    As you can see in pics, this one was done for a long time ago. The brake material is held on by rivets, this one has worn through and the rivets actually dug a groove in the
    brake drum. This normally would be an issue on a passenger vehicle/truck, but it will be let go for now, it will get replaced from a parts tractor when restoration happens.
    New material can be bought through McMaster Carr and if you have an extra brake band, you can attach new lining to band days/weeks before and have on hand so it can be immediately installed. If not, once the rear end comes out, the newly bonded brake band will need to sit for at least 24 hrs before use.
    Item # 6175K811 will work fine and is what TX_Dj used in his thread linked above.


    There are many ways to replace the friction material on the band. McMaster car does have brake liner rivets, but JB weld was used to just glue the liner back on. Clamps can be used or as TX_Dj did it, wrap it around brake drum and clamp the end while it's drying. You can then tape and paint band once dry to prevent rusting.

    The new band can be replaced just as taken off. It will be re-attached to brake rod as removed once back in tractor. See below the two pics of the old vs new bands on rear. You can see the attachment lever on the front ( square block in bracket) and the difference between a worn one and new one, the old one had no adjustment left vs the new one the lever is now about in the middle of the brackets.


    This can be done without removing rear end, but will be covered also since rear end is out and it needed replaced.
    The belt will need to come off the engine pulley for removal. There is or should be a couple belt keepers bolted to the front of the engine. As you can see in the pic, one looks like a thick bent rod( held on with 2 bolts), the other is a plate that actually holds the pulley cover(two horseshoe clips). These both will need to come off. On his tractor, there is a flat bracket that is a grill support that needs unbolted to remove the back plate. Once these are both removed, belt should come off pulleys, but the clutch will need to be pushed in to relieve tension to accomplish this.
    A pair of channel locks strategically placed or a bungie cord or even a piece of rope can be used to keep clutch in down position while you work on the other side of tractor.
    Now proceed to the rear of tractor. There is also a belt keeper bolted to the rear end that needs removed, it keeps belt in proper place around pulley. Removal of the two bolts and off it comes. As stated, this can be done with rear in tractor if you just need to replace belt.

    Once you remove both engine and rear end belt keepers, you can slip belt over pulleys and snake out of tractor. Be sure to note the routing of the belt around clutch and stationary idler pulleys when removing.
    This is a good time to also check any play in the clutch rods and pulleys. In below pic you can see the wear on the ends of the rod that goes from main clutch pedal to the pulley bracket. Out came the welder then the grinder and this rod got repaired.

    This tractor also had loose set screws on the main accessories pulleys on engine. See the rust spot in the pic below near the keyway, that should be against the crankshaft. Good thing belt was getting changed or some major damage could’ve occurred with pulley walking off crank.

    You can purchase a new belt from sears parts direct, NAPA, or this one was bought at Tractor supply. This tractor uses a 5/8” x 81”. Check your tractor parts numbers if possible, there have been notes of 80 thru 83” belts used, all depends on engine or possible engine swap. If old belt is in tact, take to a store and have sized.
    You can then snake belt back up through pulleys and re-attach all the belt guards and any removed parts.
    The belt is then adjusted per manual
    [attachment=126551:This tutorial is to give a step by step instructional on the removal of a Sears _2014-09-11_12-52-24.jpg]


    Once you have both a new belt (if needed) and the brake band, you can re-install the rear end in the reverse order you took apart. It is recommended to leave most bolts lose until all mounting bolts are in place and started or nuts are on. Once all back in and aligned, you can torque bolts down. The follow instructions shown above for belt and brake adjustments.


    * As shown in the video and stated earlier, it advisable to place blocks between frame and front axle. Whether tractor will be on jack stand or lifted form the rear hitch plate, these prevent the tractor from rocking side to side.

    * This is also a great time to change the oil in the rear end. Drain the oil before removing rear end from tractor, then once out, put tire back on the right side with a bolt or two, flip rear up so fill tube now easily accessible. Doing this in the tractor take forever, being flipped on it’s side cut time way down and is much easier.
    Manufacturer suggests SAE 30 weight oil, most recommend a non detergent oil. Some even use a heavy gear oil with no issues.
    If you decide to drain/fill rear while still in the tractor, remove one of the 4 bolts that holds shifter in place. These bolts go through top of case, removing one allows venting of the case thus oil can go in fill tube faster. You can also heat oil in some hot water on stove for a few mins to help thin for easier pouring.


    * The bolts holding seat can be a pain to hold in frame. They are a toggle bolt variety with a square under the bolt head to lock in a square in frame. Take a piece of machinist wire, bread tie, even some string and tie around the bolt in frame before replacing rear end and seat bracket. They are hard to reach and hold in place once rear is installed, the wire will hold them there so after you get rear in and seat bracket back on, you do not have to fight with trying to hold bolts in frame and getting nut started back on.

    • Dec 23, 2014 07:44 PM
    • by TAHOE