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John Deere Maintenance Monday: Clutch Free Play Maintenance

In this edition of Maintenance Monday, Dan from Georgia writes to say he's pretty handy with most tractor maintenance, but is a little shaky when it comes to determining if the clutch is slipping and what he can do to fix it.

John Deere Product Marketing Manager Blake Barnes says the first thing to evaluate is the "free play". Free play is the distance the clutch pedal can move before it engages the traction clutch.

"You can measure the distance from the edge of the clutch pedal arm to the firewall, and then you can actually depress it, just with your hand, with a little amount of force, and you're going to feel when it encounters resistance," Barnes says. "And when you encounter the resistance, that's when you actually start to overcome the clutch element itself."

So, measure the distance from the firewall to the clutch pedal when you encounter resistance, and then again when you're not pressing down. That's your free play range. Usually it's around 0.8 to 0.9 inches. The measurements vary by tractor model, so consult the manual for the exact range.

Adjust if needed

Check your clutch free play every 300 hours. If you don't have the recommended free play, you run the risk of having less clamping force. Then, your clutch might slip with a heavy load. If you need to adjust the free play, Barnes offers one way to do it.

"Between the clutch pedal and the mechanism that actually disengages the clutch element, usually there's a clevis," Barnes says. "A clevis looks similar to a tuning fork, where you have a central member that branches out and then it kind of captures the linkage in between its two elements. And there'll be a locknut. Disengage the locknut, and then you'll actually rotate the clevis on a threaded rod, which is what allows you to set your free play. Once you have it within the proper range, tighten that locknut."

Again, the exact adjustment technique depends on your tractor series, but at least you have a better idea of what to try.

If this fix doesn't apply to your model, or you try adjusting the free play and the clutch travel is still greater than the recommended range, visit your dealer.


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