The five types are gears, friction discs, automatic, CVT, and hydrostatic. I will take a few minutes to analyze each type so that you have a better idea of the type that best suits you. I’m not going to go into detail about how each one works. Just Google the broadcast type and you can read to your heart’s content.
Five years ago, the gear transmission was the most popular, but today hydrostatic and automatic transmissions have replaced them in popularity. Often called manual transmissions, this type uses a series of gears to change the ground speed of your tractor. The biggest disadvantage of this type of transmission is that you must stop the tractor to shift into a different gear (range). This makes them more difficult to use when you have a lot of garden beds and landscaping items for everyone.
To drive the tractor, you need to press the clutch, shift the transmission into the gear you want to use, release the clutch, and wait. This is a reliable transmission that will give you years of service.
This is actually the transmission of choice for snowplows, but there are some mowers like the Snapper Rear Engine Rider that use this transmission. It is a good and reliable transmission when used correctly. You use a friction wheel and a disc to change your rider’s forward speed. Do not use this transmission to pull heavy loads … it will break the friction wheel.
You can shift on the fly with some models, but for the longest life, most brands suggest you press down on the clutch / brake pedal and then shift to whatever gear you want.
It is essentially a variable belt and pulley system similar to the powertrain of a snowmobile. John Deere originally used this in conjunction with a manual transmission on the Model 110. Today MTD is using it on most of their cheaper lawn tractors. Like the friction disc, this transmission is designed for mower application and is not designed to pull heavy loads. Some of the brands have confused the problem by calling their economy hydrostatic transmission “automatic,” so if you’re not sure, ask.
To drive the tractor, you normally have two levers. One for forward or backward and the other for speed. Move the F / R lever to the direction you want to go and then simply move a fender-mounted lever to change gear. This is a reliable transmission that will give you years of service for flat lawns and very light-duty traction.
CVT / IVT (infinitely / continuously variable transmission)
The aforementioned automatic and hydrostatic below are essentially CVTs, but now this means a variable disc or ball / disc system. This is the transmission of the future because it uses fewer moving parts than a gear transmission and less oil than a hydrostatic one, but at this point they are not yet profitable for lawn tractor applications. MTD tried using the dual Infinitrak IVT on Cub Cadet and Craftsman Revolution, but consumers weren’t willing to spend the extra money to own this type of transmission. New Holland is using them effectively on its tractors of 50 hp or more.
These streams are very easy to use. A fender-mounted lever or foot control varies speed and direction.
The most common transmission for lawn tractors today is a form of continuously variable transmission called a hydrostatic transmission. These transmissions take various forms, from pumps that drive separate motors, which can incorporate a gear reduction, to fully integrated (closed) units that contain a pump, motor, and gear reduction. Hydrostatic transmissions are more expensive than mechanical transmissions, but they are easier to use and can transmit more torque to the wheels compared to a typical mechanical transmission.
Hydrostatic – Single Closed
These streams are very easy to use. A fender-mounted lever or foot control varies speed and direction. The closed hydrostatic transmission is a single unit that houses the variable pump, engine, differential, and driveshaft. Most of today’s riding mowers, lawn tractors, lawn tractors, and farm tractors have an aluminum casing to release the heat generated by moving oil. These transmissions are sized for the mower application. The garden tractor and family tractor transmissions are designed to handle heavy loads and attachments that hook into the ground.
These streams are very easy to use. A fender-mounted lever or foot control varies speed and direction. The pedal on the left side of the tractor is the parking brake. It is not necessary to step on that pedal to change the tractor. Forward and reverse are controlled by a lever on the right fender or two pedals on the floor on the right side. To move forward, push the fender lever forward or press the large pedal on the floorboard. To stop the tractor, pull the lever to the middle position or take your foot off the pedal. To back the tractor, pull the fender lever rearward or press the small foot pedal on the ground.
On the fender mounted control you MUST move the lever to the middle to stop your tractor. It will not go to neutral on its own like the foot controls.
Hydrostatic – Double closed
Two hydrostatic transmissions are mounted side by side in residential zero turns. Each trans controls a separate rear wheel. That’s the main reason why zero turn mowers cost more than riding mowers. Again, these trans are designed for the application and most are not designed to pull loads, just cut and pack.
Most of these transmissions are controlled by individual levers that are positioned in front of you. With a little practice, these are very easy to use. A large lever on each side of the seat controls that side transmission. To advance, press BOTH levers. To stop, pull them back. (The easiest way to explain how to operate a two-lever zero-turn mower is to use a shopping cart as an example. With the mower turned off, sit in the seat and place your hands on the two large levers in front of you. Close You look and pretend you’re holding a shopping cart. What do you do to move a shopping cart forward? Right, you push the handle. To go back? Right, you pull back on the handle. Go left? Go to Right? Correct, you PUSH the handle in the direction you want to rotate the cart. Two zero turns of the lever work the same way. Instead of a bar like a shopping cart, the bar splits in two and you move each side to make it move.) This type of transmission takes practice to keep the tires from digging into the grass.
Hydrostatic -Pump and motor
Commercial zero turn mowers, stand-up mowers, and some more expensive golf course mowers use a separate variable pump near the motor connected to the wheel motors with hydraulic hoses or wire lines. They are usually cast iron for long life and durability. Some of the higher end commercial lawn mowers now use closed cast iron hydros.