Friday, September 16, 2011

John Deere GT235 idler arm tension spring

I know I have all of you on the edge of your seats after reading this title. 

It was beautiful today, highs in the upper 50s.  Perfect for cutting grass in a sweatshirt.  I was actually enjoying cutting the lawn when I heard a pop and the mower stopped moving.  It wouldn't go forward or in reverse.  I assumed a belt broke or something.  I looked underneath hoping the problem was obvious and something I could fix.  Nope, no broken belts.  I read the owner's manual troubleshooting page and under Mower Won't Move it said the parking break was on.  Duh.  No it wasn't but I needed a break.  It was kind of hot to touch so I thought I'd let it cool off while I had lunch.  With a full stomach I was ready to spend a little more time looking.  It didn't take long to discover a small but heavy duty looking spring dangling near the back.  It looked like this.
And this is where it was hanging from.
Here's a shot of it from the back.
James came out to look at it with me and neither of us could figure out where the other end attached so I called my "go to" guy, my dad.  I usually call him when I have lawnmower problems.  Even if he can't help me he can appreciate what I'm going through.  He's had a few different John Deeres and knows lots more about their mechanics than I ever will.  Unfortunately he has a different model and it's hard to fix something when you can't see it.  He's in PA and I'm in VA.  I drove to my neighbor's house and looked at his John Deere which is also a different model but has the hydrostatic drive (I just learned about that) like ours.  His didn't have this spring. 

This is where I hit myself in the forehead and say, "wow, I could've had a V8".  Maybe you know what I mean.  Of course, the answer was obvious.  Google it.  I did.  I typed in John Deere GT235 won't go forward and came to a few forums.  On one of them someone mentioned the idler arm tension spring.  Next I Googled John Deere idler arm tension spring and came upon the answer I was looking for in this link  On this page you could click on the pictures and it showed you the bottom of the mower, which you can't see because of the mower deck on your own.  I went back out to the mower and, sure enough, saw exactly where I needed to hook the other end.  Too bad the spring is so short and thick and it has to stretch 18 inches (Edit: it doesn't have to stretch 18 inches, only about an inch.  I had it in the wrong spot).  All I need now is my sidekick to help me stretch it so I can latch it onto the idler arm. 

I hope this helps someone else who has the same problem and Googles it. 


  1. Hook the donkeys up to the spring and have them stretch it back to its original position!

  2. Excellent idea. It might be a lot less work to harness James up and ask him to pull. He's more likely to follow my directions. Well, maybe.