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Won't roll freely - is transaxle frozen?

Unfortunately, I've acquired a neglected yard tractor / mower with multiple issues. I've yet not bothered to try to start it because of: a) two ruined tires and b) the rear wheels or differential are frozen or jammed or ...??? On the ground, that makes it impossible to move the tractor without dragging it. That's not fun. Add in the two expired cracked tires and it's REALLY no fun.

With rear wheels off the ground, they spin freely but in opposite direction, as one would expect from a differential (I think).

The F-N-R lever makes no difference, though underneath, I can see that it is indeed moving the rod in and out. However I'm not convinced this "shifter" is doing the job, there's no decisive sense of getting it into forward or into reverse, though I have no experience with running one of these so don't know what to expect it to feel like - I just know that it doesn't feel quite right. Thus I suspect the transaxle is kaputski.

Local mower shop first said to look for the rod coming out the back and pull that to unlock the dif. On this machine, there is no such rod, as far as I can see. Mechanic also suggested the disk brake could be stuck, but I see no brake on the rear axle.

Am I missing something obvious, or is this rust bucket ready for its eternal rest? We do have a metal recycling yard just a couple miles away, but with locked rear wheels and two squashed tires, just getting it into my trailer will be a grueling ordeal.

Thanks

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OK this isn't my answer I got it from another site.

However the suggestion is that your selector lever has probably rounded off, which is why it won't select.

And that maybe the transmission is done. Apparently all parts are available. I'll post what was written so you can check it yourself.

I don't know of any detailed instructions. Take the tranny out, take the pulley off the top. If the tranny is caked up with debris, clean it off so you don't get the mess inside it. Take the case bolts out all around the tranny. With the tranny front facing you on the workbench, gently lift and pry the top of the case upwards, being careful to make sure all the parts other than the shifter connection and input shaft stay in the bottom half. Once the top is off, the shaft closest to you with several gears that increase in size... that is the shaft you'll need to pull out. Take it out and slide each piece off and lay it on the bench in the order it was removed, with each piece face up. There will be 2 or 3 grooves in the shaft, and that is where the shift keys are. Slide the shift collar off and the keys will come with it. Install the new keys and reverse procedure to reassemble. The old keys are probably rounded off at the tabs on the ends. Check the gears as well, where the keys latch and make sure they aren't worn too far, which will allow the new keys to slip.

Once you get the shaft back together, fit it back in place in the lower half of the tranny. Add some "00" grease if needed, and make sure the bushings on the shaft are lined up with the flats on the bushings matching with the flats in the case, or you may break the case when you tighten the bolts. Sit the top of the case on and line the shifter up with the shift ring. Some models require this is done prior to installing the top if the shifter is a fork rather than a single button type. If the top case half fits all the way down tight and flush with the bottom half, bolt it back together. If it doesn't. open it back up and figure out why. Usually it's one of the bronze bushings on one of the shafts, or a thrust washer over too far and in the way. Get the make and model of the unit and look up a diagram if needed, in case you get confused.

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Thanks sm_vulkus. The detail you provided is excellent, I'm grateful for sure. Your answer does sound likely to be correct. The only problem is that this beast is simply not worth that much time or effort. It's already in marginal condition, plus it needs two tires and a battery, and I have no certainty that it will start or run well. So what you've done is help me decide to cut my losses. If I can't give it away to someone who wants the two good tires and maybe the engine, I'll haul it to the scrap yard. For that, I am definitely appreciative of your prompt and extremely clear answer. THANK YOU!

When I figure out how to award "reputation points", I'll certainly do so. (I'm a newbie here, barely understand how the site works.)

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Glad to be of service.

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End of the story: I posted an ad on Craigslist Free Stuff, which is where I found this tractor a couple weeks ago. 24 hours later, a gentleman I'd met briefly several years ago came to haul it away. He needed the engine. .

So it was a win-win.

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