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K46 oil change notes

7 years ago

Just a quick update. I have a 2002 JD LT160 with K46 hydro and 430 hours. It has always been used just for mowing a fairly flat acre, with rare pulling of a light JD 10P cart moving mulch, etc. It has been running great, no tranny noises or issues, but I dropped the tranny and cleaned, changed fluid, etc. just for preventive maintenance. At 430 hours, the oil came out very dark, but not "thick" or showing any signs of burning or solid contaminants. The magnet on top of fill opening was really quite clear, just a thin layer of residue. I just turned the unit over to drain, and got virtually all of the 1.9 liters or so out in a matter of a few minutes - no reason to let it drain for hours as others have suggested since I could measure that 99% of the fluid was already out. I did let it sit for another 30 minutes or so, but with very little further accumulation ( a couple of tablespoons). New 5-50 synthetic went back in with little trouble, just needed to fill slowly so that the oil could fill both sides of the case. After installing and bleeding, ran fine again, perhaps a little stronger, but it was good before. All together, as first time, it took about 2 hours of slow tinkering, very few tools, and no particular skill.

Of note to me was the crud build-up all over the exterior of case and between the cooling fins. I keep the Hydro clear of the grass accumulations and was surprised at the thickness of the "dried mud" sort of coating. It was nearly the same color as the tranny case, so not readily noticed. Clearly this was reducing the ability of the tranny to keep cool, thus creating higher operating temps and shortening life. Pretty hard to keep these fins really clean with tranny installed, since the crud is all on the upper surfaces out of sight and reach. Otherwise, the only mechanical flaw I spotted was some play in the drive pulley as it sits on the splined shaft. Neither the shaft splines nor the pulley splines looked particularly worn, and the shaft had no play at all in its case. Is this pulley play at all normal? Or just something that builds up to the point that shaft and pulley need to be replaced? Looks to be as if the pulley will eventually slip on the shaft without doing any other significant damage, so I didn't do anything about it for now. Would it be worth just installing a new pulley on old shaft before shaft splines get more worn??

Bottom line is that this 12 year old K46, used as intended, is dong fine and likely to do so for quite a bit longer.

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