My MTD project went dead in the water so I figured it was time to pull my MF10 in the garage and do some work on it before garden season gets here. I noticed that once she started, the variable drive shifter felt "crunchy". The drive needed adjusting anyway so that would be a good time to check out what was causing the stiffness in the lever. Here's what was making the crunchy sound.
What you see there is just a fraction of what was in there, most of the heap landed on top of the deck. No damage done and the variable drive is now lubed and adjusted. There is however a very upset squirrel in the neighborhood.