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Ranwell1, Small Engine Technician
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 10304
Experience:  I Own a Lawn Mower Sales and service business (37years). Have 2-cycle and 4-cycle certification.
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I have a Toro Model 20013 22" Recycler personal pace self propelled

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I have a Toro Model 20013 22" Recycler personal pace self propelled mower (2005 model) that keeps wearing out pinion drive gears,particularly the left side one. I have also replaced the left drive wheel once. When I replace the gears everything goes smoothly for a few cuttings then I begin to get a grinding noise as the right wheel spins on hills and tight spots and the left wheel remains stationary or free wheels as the mower moves forward. The condition gradually gets worse until eventually I replace both the pinion gears and the cycle starts over.



This is a condition that usually occurs when the operator fails to stop moving forward before he makes a turn. These units do not have a differential and MUST come to a stop before you make a turn. Otherwise it puts a great deal of pressure on the gears and the transmission. Also the transmissions will tend to wear out quickly and will need to be replaced.


Also, this can occur when the customer washes the mower. This can remove the grease and start the gear and other parts rusting. This will cause premature wear.


Also make sure that you replace the gear and the wheel together and make sure that the wheel is tight and that all the washers are in place.


Good luck.




Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I do not wash the machine except once or twice a year when it is put away for storage. As noted in my question I did replace the wheel when I replaced the pinion gear.


The stopping before turning does not appear to be practical since there are many twists and turns in a large lawn. In some parts of my lawn it is a continuous sweep of turning along flower beds? Further how would one go back and forth in long strips and turn around at the end of each strip? With the personal pace feature you can not disengage the drive system. Is this not what the little keys in each axel under the pinion gear are for - to allow one wheel to free wheel while backing up? My previous machine a Lawnboy lasted for years without a single similar problem. My Toro started making noises within months of the end of the two year warranty. Is this issue unique to Toro?

NO, The keys are NOT for that. They are not so one wheel will disengage while the other is turning!!!! The keys are the ONLY so that you can come to a complete stop and then be able to pull it backward to trim.




With the personal Pace, the drive system IS disengaged when you bring the handle back to the neutral position...(All the way back).


When you are turning just a small amount, it usually will not cause much damage, it is when you are turning at a fairly sharp angle that you will damage the transmission and the gears.


An additional bit of information that usually ends up making most customers mad when I tell the, is that the 22" mower that have the steel mower decks are a very cheaply built mower that we have had MANY< MANY problems with the drive system. We usually have to replace the entire transmission about every 2 or 3 years. They have made some improvements to the drive system this past year so we don't have quite as much problem with em, though.



THe good Toros that are sold at dealers, we do not have problems with.


I will get back to you in a little bit. I am wanted

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Wow the washing is interesting since they even provide a hose hook up in the deck of the newer ones.


I now understand your point now about stopping - let the drive system fully disengage before doing a pivot turn, that may be part of the problem as I probably do not fully disengage when I do the 180 turns to go back and forth.


I am going to go back and replace the left drive wheel as well as the matching left pinion gear. The last time I did that it lasted a full season before starting to grind again. The manual does not ever mention greasing the drive gears although it does say to oil the axle. Final question: my service guy says to put a small amount of white lithium grease on the new wheel and pinion gear set. However, I have noticed that they really collect a lot of gunge on the gears when they are lubricated. That much grit on the gears can not be good. Are they better left dry??


Your opinion on the 22" steel deck machine is exactly what my service guy told me too. He has said that they are OK, not good just OK for a small city lot with a big house on it but for my half acre plus he recommends that I go to the local Toro dealer and get the Super Recycler model with the 21" cast aluminum deck and he prefers the one with the B&S engine, not the electric start model with the Honda engine. Says he has very few of that B&S engine model in for service.

This steel deck mower is not even OK for a small lot.! At least not the older ones.


Do not grease the wheel gears. They will collect dirt and grit and cause even more problems.


Keep the mower in a dry location so the moisture will not cause even more problems.


As far as them putting the "Self-Destruct button" (washout port) on the mowers, this was done because Toro get tired of arguing with "Idiots" Other companies started putting these ports on their mowers because customers are usually lazy and wanted an easier way to clean out from under the mower. Toro lost a great deal of market share to the other brands because they did not have the washout port. They couldn't keep loosing marker share so they said : If you can't beat them....join them.."


The super Recylcer is their best mower....but for a 1/2 acre lot, you actually should be using a riding mower. Usually if it takes more than 1 hr to mow your lawn, you should consider a rider.


Just for you information, I am including one of my Answers for not washing a mower. It should help you understand my position even better. This is especially true for self-propelled mowers and riding mowers.





When a mower is washed or left outside in the weather, several damaging things occur.


1. About 80% of the assembly grease that was installed at the factory is washed away.


2. Bare metal that previously was covered in grease rusts.


3. Rust is another name for "Iron oxide" which is another name for "GRINDING COMPOUND.


4. Components of the unit that were made to move, now have GRINGING COMPOUND between them and wear out very rapidly.


5. Other components that were meant to move, but more infrequently, tend to rust together and freeze up as if they were welded together. Causing major problem.


6. Water that contacts the bearings, will find its way through the seals into them .

Bearings and water are what we call dis-similar materials. This means that they

will heat and cool at different rates. Because of this, the water will be forced or

sucked into the bearings similar to what happens when you put a boiled egg on

top of a pop bottle and heat the bottle. The egg is sucked into the bottle through

the smaller opening....contaminating the grease and wearing out the bearings.


7. Water will also be sucked through the seals and into the transmission in the same

way. Contamination the lubricant in the transmission and also start the rusting

process inside the transmission.


8. Water that gets onto the axles will actually rust the axles to the back wheels

and practically weld the wheel to the axles. This prevents the wheels from

being able to be removed if there is ever a need to repair or replace a tire or rim.

Just about the only way to get them off it to use a cutting torch and cut them off.


9. Water getting onto or under the mower deck will not only ruin the bearings,

but the deck will rust out and need to be replaces in short order.


10. Water will also corrode all of the electrical connections and render the electrical

system inoperable....making it necessary to replace switches, connectors and

wiring harnesses.


There are also many other items that will become damaged because of washing the

unit or leaving it outside. And by the way, covering the unit with a tarp or a tub

will not help. In fact, it makes the situation much worse because the moisture

is kept inside the tarp or tube and is not allowed to evaporate.



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