Tractor Belts: Spares are Good to Have on Standby

Having a Spare Can Be a Game-Changer in a Pinch

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Tractor belts are the unsung heroes of farm equipment maintenance, often overlooked until a breakdown occurs. Having spare tractor belts on standby can be a game-changer when this happens.

Routine Farm Maintenance

I take good care of my garden tractors. I stay on top of oil changes. I regularly clean and/or replace oil and air filters. I top off other fluids (such as hydraulic fluid and coolant) when needed. I change the mower blades, and I clean leaves and grass clippings out of the mower deck regularly.

This care extends to the snow blower attachment I use with one of my garden tractors. I make sure the gearbox stays filled with gearbox oil. I’m careful not to scrape up gravel from my driveway when clearing snow. And I keep spare shear pins on hand so I won’t be out of luck if something causes the snow blower to break a shear pin, disconnecting the blades from the power of the engine.

Tractor Belts & Snow Removal

Even the most diligent farmer can occasionally overlook an area of maintenance that requires attention, such as the tractor belt that transfers power from my garden tractor to the snow blower.

My garden tractor with its snow blower, had been hooked up to the snow blower the previous year, and at the start of winter, I’d gone through a maintenance checklist and concluded everything was in order.

I hooked it up and cleared a couple of passes up and down my driveway when the snow blower abruptly stopped working. A quick visual survey revealed the problem: the tractor belt had snapped.

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I’d never thought to check the condition of the belt because, in all my years of mowing with garden tractors, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a belt wear out. A little lawn tractor wore out a belt once, but that was a long time ago. Mower belts, in my experience, go for years and years without issue, and I wasn’t expecting anything different from the snow blower belt.

Then again, I’d purchased the snow blower used, so I can’t say for sure how many hours had been put on that belt. It didn’t strike me as worn the first time I installed it on my tractor, and the belt went through one winter without issue. But the strain of its first job back in action proved too much to handle.

Fortunately, there wasn’t so much snow as to be unmanageable, so I was able to get by with a smaller self-powered snowblower while I ordered a new belt and waited for it to arrive.

Tractor Belts: Lessons Learned

Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a lesson. It can be easy to forget about belt maintenance since they often go for years without issue and there isn’t a regular schedule for replacing them. But from now on, I’ll visually inspect the condition of my snow blower belt before winter each year, and I’ll always make sure to have a spare on hand. Who knows, next time, it might snap when there are 18 inches of snow in the driveway and I need to get it cleared right away. And I don’t want to be stuck without a replacement at a time like that.

This story about hand pollination was written for Hobby Farms magazine online. Click here to subscribe.

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