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Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake Rebuild

By Andrew Pollack on 05/08/2011 at 10:10 AM EDT

This entry is a follow-up to a how-to I wrote in 2009 about adjusting the brakes on your John Deere L100 mower. Even if you're planning to do the full rebuild I show here, you should probably read that first. (link)

Back in 2009 when I wrote the original posting, I had no idea that 3 years later I'd still be getting positive feedback from people on it. I'm glad that I've been able to help people get their brakes working right, and I've decided to follow it up with more detail. For me, the adjustment was no longer working. I wasn't getting any kind of useful result any more and thought I'd need to replace pads or something else. I decided to tear into the assembly and see what there was to work out.

* Note: I call the part here a "caliper" which is, strictly speaking, not true. It doesn't move. It does sit very much in the way a typical disk brake caliper would and I just couldn't come up with a better way to refer to the part. If you have a better suggestion, let me know.

To refresh everyone's memory, the first picture here (from the original how-to) shows the brake assembly itself and the adjustment nut. The picture is taken from the "starboard" side (right side, when facing forward) of the tractor, just ahead of the rear wheel. If you want to find out more details about adjusting the brakes using this adjustment nut, please go read the original how-to.


What went wrong with my brakes turned out to be that the small metal rods, or pistons that fit through the outer caliper (pictures below) had gotten some corrosion on them and didn't smoothly fit through their bore holes any more. They were stuck. To get them out, I had to put the outer caliper in a vise, and use a nail set and hammer to gently tap them back out. I did this from the inside thinking that the corrosion was more likely to be thickest on the outside. Once I got them out, I cleaned and smoothed them, as well as cleaned and smoothed out the bore holes. When I re-assembled everything, I coated them liberally with water proof bearing grease. Basically, everything but the pads themselves, and the disk got a liberal coating of water proof bearing grease when I re-assembled the parts. Aside from smoothing the operation of the parts, this should keep the corrosion from coming back so quickly.

Before disassembling the brakes, I strongly recommend you are prepared with the following:


The last item, the camera, is really important. There is more detail than you think while you're taking it apart. There are several small parts that must go back together in the right order -- and that order is not obvious when you go to re-assemble. There were a few places during re-assembly where I referred back to my photos to determine the order of parts (did that washer go before, or after the bracket?) or even location and direction of the parts. Taking pictures is quick and cheap. You can always delete them if you don't need them.

I also found that the adjustment nut can be very hard to remove, as that area is prone to rust. Make sure you have patience, give your rust remover time to work, and do not strip the adjustment nut or break the the threaded part of the caliper it is on. If you damage those threads or break that threaded bolt part, you will have to replace the outer caliper and it is a dealer-only part.

I found that the best way to access the brake parts was to put blocks down at the front wheels to keep the tractor still, then jack up the back end and support it on jack stands. Then I could remove the starboard side wheel and have clear access to the area.

Once you have re-assembled the brakes, I suggest you quickly read about adjusting the brakes using this adjustment nut in the original how-to.

Below are some photos of the parts, and a few tips for those of you who want to try this yourselves...

Seen from the top, the center "post" is the threaded bolt that the adjustment screw threads onto when this caliper part is facing out and installed on the mower. Next to it, you see the two small piston rods that should smoothly slide in and out. These take the pressure from the plate that applies the brake, and push against the brake pads. Mine had just enough corrosion on them to prevent them smoothly moving through the bore holes.

This is the same part, the outer caliper, seen from the inside. You can see where the brake pad seats. On this outer caliper, there is a metal backing plate that goes against the back where it can contact the piston rods and evenly distribute their pressure to the pad. The backing plate goes in first, then the pad. I cleaned the backing plate to remove corrosion and applied a very thin later of grease to it. Be careful not to get any grease on the brake pad itself.

Once you have the outer caliper removed, you can easily side the brake disk itself off this axle. You can see that the axle is keyed to prevent the axle spinning independent of the brake disk. What you don't notice right away, is that the key is itself a very small part, and sits in a recess on the axle. Don't loose this little moon shaped key! Also note that the key "rocks" so you may have to work it back and forth a bit as you put the disk back in place to make everything seat right.

This last picture just shows how small the pads themselves are. Mine are worn down about 1/8 inch, which you can tell because the disk is round, so the bottom corners of the pad are not worn. This isn't a problem. That's why the adjustment nut is there.

Once you have re-assembled the brakes, I suggest you quickly read about adjusting the brakes using this adjustment nut in the original how-to.

Finally, I would like to invite you to please leave a comment here if you found anything wrong, have some advice to add, or found this useful. I really do enjoy hearing from people who use these kinds of how-to articles.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Brewski on 05/26/2011 at 05:14 PM EDT
I too dove head first into this brake system today. Before I was done, I was
totally convinced that a third grader must have designed it. I cleaned
everything up and adjusted the nut. My first run around the yard yielded a good
trail of smoke as my pads were almost on fire. I loosened the nut some and now
the mower seems better. However, as you mentioned, the brakes don't stop the
mower on a steep hill...which I have. It's a dangerous design for anybody
mowing on a slope, as the mower refuses to stop quickly when moving down a
hill. The braking system will be the first thing I look at when I buy my next
mower, as this one is junk!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Skip Chance on 06/29/2011 at 02:11 PM EDT
Thanks Andrew- I also am having a brake problem just like your original
description- I did locate the lever and adjustment and tightened the nut to
achieve better braking but now I get a metal grinding sound- that is when I
decided to check out the internet and found your posting- I will follow your
directions to see what the rest of the problem is
thanks again
Skip
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Bob Laferriere on 07/01/2011 at 04:21 PM EDT
I also had to learn the hard way because none of this is in the manual. One
fast trip down the hill and I started looking for broken or missing parts, then
messing with the brake bolts, then trial and error to adjust. Thanks for taking
the time to help others !
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Bob Laferriere on 04/28/2012 at 02:54 PM EDT
I did learn when you mow on hills the brakes pads will last only a couple of
seasons then you need to replace them when the adjustment nut does not let the
brakes lock anymore. It is really not a lot of wear on the pads but the caliper
bottoms out.

Bob Laferrriere
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Jeffery on 05/14/2012 at 01:13 PM EDT
Andrew
Thank you for putting this info on the E-net. I looked everywere and could not
find it. You have helped me A-LOT!!! THANK YOU!!!!!
Jeff
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Tommy Lowe on 07/09/2012 at 04:36 PM EDT
best info i have seen yet thanks.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Stan on 07/14/2012 at 12:53 PM EDT
Thanks for the info. I have the same problem with stoping. Could not find
anything in manual. Thanks for the help. Mower is only two years old. I had the
last JD mower 17 years and never needed to adjust the breaks so could not guess
what the problem was.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Jerry on 03/07/2013 at 04:09 PM EST
Andrew , Thanks a TON! Just bought a running JD L100 cheap at an auctions .
Runs great but NNO BRAKES. Am in process of cleaning it up and article was
exacly what I was looking for! Brakes seem VERY INADEQUATE for mower, but maybe
some new pads and adjustment we can use it! Thanks a bunch for taking time to
do article!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy George Carmody on 04/28/2013 at 08:56 PM EDT
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank
you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank
you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Pete on 05/03/2013 at 09:21 PM EDT
How do you remove the inner brake pad? Mine is worn flush with the case
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Andrew Pollack on 05/03/2013 at 09:44 PM EDT
Mine wasn't worn that badly. Since it just sits in there, I would say removing
it will be a matter of a very small pick, or else if you really can't any other
way, then drill a very small hole right into it and then drive a screw in so
you can grab it with the threads. Make sure you order the replacement pad
and have it in hand before you destroy the one that's there though.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Randy on 06/14/2013 at 11:00 AM EDT
Thank you headed out to repair mine now ! You were a huge help
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Stan on 06/15/2013 at 02:10 PM EDT
Thanks for the info. I also looked everywhere.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy dave gorsuch on 07/06/2013 at 05:55 PM EDT
very helpful thanks for sharing i have to get a new outer caliper cuz i
tightened the adjustment nut to tight and snapped the caliper right in two!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Andrew Pollack on 07/06/2013 at 10:47 PM EDT
Sounds like you were trying to tighten that one nut when the little pistons
were frozen in place and couldn't move to put pressure on the brake shoe.
Follow the link in the story above there to look at how to rebuild that whole
unit. You'll need to tap those little piston rods out and clean them up like I
did before the whole thing will work right.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Bill Cantrell on 07/11/2013 at 08:32 PM EDT
A really big THANKS for publishing this. I looked for about 30 minutes on
google and there is still nothing about how to do the rebuild. Your adjustment
can be found, but I only found the rebuild page through the adjustment page you
wrote. Again, thanks a bunch. And yes, I have one of those first year Deeres
from Home Depot, thinking it was a great price on a REAL John Deere.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Greg on 07/25/2013 at 06:53 PM EDT
What is the part # for new pads? I'm a hard time finding them. Excellent
information thanks for taking the time to post it!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Fay on 08/29/2013 at 09:26 PM EDT
Instead of just giving you the parts number, I'm gonna give you the link to
JD's page with all the parts numbers and diagrams. That way, you'll know where
to look if you need any other parts.

http://jdpc.deere.com/jdpc/servlet/com.deere.u90490.partscatalog.view.servlets.H
omePageServlet_Alt

Click on the model > click on 'sectional index' > click '50 - power train' >
click '17 - transaxle shifter, brake and case'. There's the diagram and
section of the parts list where you'll find the parts numbers.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Fay on 08/29/2013 at 09:28 PM EDT
Actually, I just noticed you might not have to do all that crazy clicking. It
should open up to the right section.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Andrew Pollack on 08/29/2013 at 09:52 PM EDT
That was really nice of you Fay. Thanks for playing the home game!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Gary on 04/09/2014 at 03:39 PM EDT
I haven't had the brake problem that you are showing us how to repair but
enjoyed reading your repair procedure and method of repair. When this comes up
I will be more familiar with what to expect and thank you for the input.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Len on 04/11/2014 at 02:38 AM EDT
Excellent bro, you are a winner, thank you
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy kevin on 04/11/2014 at 10:58 PM EDT
been looking online for 3 days for this info. you are a lifesaver. thank you
for your help. was cutting my grass when my brakes gave out going down a small
hill .it scared the you know what out of me when i shot across the road in
front of my house. this is the info i been look for thank you so much
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Juanita Tucker on 05/02/2014 at 09:32 PM EDT
Andrew If you were close by I'd give you a big old hug and a big ol kiss. I
love you !!!!! I did it. not the brake rebuild, but tightening the nut so that
I have brakes on the ol John Deere. If it wasn't for searching the net and
finding your post, I'd still be sitting here watching the grass grow and crying
about it every day. I was in a desperate situation. My hubby always cut the
yard, when I say yard, its actually acreage. The brakes quit working this past
summer, and he got sick so fixing the brakes wasn't a priority during the
winter, and then he passed away 2 months ago. I sit here every day watching
the grass get higher and higher, and since we live in the woods, it wasn't like
some nice young teenager was stopping by to ask if they could cut it for me.
So I started to see what I could do on my own as I couldn't afford to pay
anyone to work on the old Deere, and WA LA!!!! I found your post. thank you,
thank you, thank you. It took me longer to find a wrench than it did to fix
it. Never did find a wrench but the socket set worked great!!!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Keith Colpetzer on 05/21/2014 at 11:39 AM EDT
Another happy camper...thanks Andrew! I wish the corporate folks were as
generous with this critical information.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Don on 05/29/2014 at 08:06 PM EDT
Your awesome and thanks for posting all this. It was a huge help and JD is
not! I adjusted last year and it went fine. Then this spring..nothing. a
little adjustment helped but quickly went away. So I took it apart and cleaned
buffed the plungers. Plung holes as well but it's tough to get them shiney
smooth. All n' all it was great and my plungers WERE frozen in place. The only
issue I had and still do is that I could not get the starboard wheel off, so I
had to do it with it on. Better for sure if you get the wheel off but I tried
everything I know, short of firing up the torch. If anyone has any ideas on how
to get a stuck wheel off, let me know please. I used the best penetrating oil
and pounded on it with a wood block..it will not budge. Need to get this
done..HELP!! Thanks again. You got any more tricks up your sleeve to share? I
did put a new engine on my L100(from 17 to 23hp)...oh ya, that works!
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Andrew Pollack on 05/30/2014 at 10:22 AM EDT
Geeze Don, you put a 23hp motor on an L100? You do know that no matter how
fast you spin those blades it isn't going to turn into a hovercraft, right?

As far as your wheel -- are you sure you got the retaining clip off? I know,
sounds like a dumb question, but it has to be asked. Are you able to get the
other wheel off?

I've used Zep's rust dissolving sprays before to good effect, if given a little
time to work and repeated spraying, but if that doesn't work, I would clean off
any and all flammable oils I'd used then use a map gas torch to heat the outer
part of the wheel where it goes onto the axle. It will take a lot of heat to
get that to expand, and I'd probably turn the wheel while doing it so it was
even. ** I have no idea if this is the right approach, you understand, it's
just what I'd be likely to do. It definitely could be the wrong thing and then
I'd be wrong again. I'd have to add it to my long list of things I've been
wrong about.
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Joe Morgal on 07/07/2014 at 12:05 PM EDT
Thank for everthing it was easy to fix. The only thing that was wsrong was
everything was full of grease. Once that I clean ever thing and put it back and
ajusted the brakes every thing was fine. Next time that I am out I will pick up
new pads.

Thanks Joe
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Kenneth Rode on 09/15/2014 at 10:18 AM EDT
This is for repairing Yancy's Deere brakes
re: Follow Up HOW-TO: John Deere L100 Lawn 42" Tractor/Mower Brake RebuildBy Tom G on 10/03/2014 at 12:34 PM EDT
Thank you for the information.
I ordered the break pads from a John Deere Dealer for $27.40 including
shipping. I had the parts in a few days, they were sent directly from the
manufacturer in my case.
Make sure the key on the rotor doesn't slip out on re-installation. I had to
take everything apart again to install the key again. I should have checked it
before putting it back together.
My rotor was rusted on the shaft which caused the outside pad to wear out
without wearing the inside pad. I used liquid wrench to loosen it from the
shaft. a little prying got it off. There was no room for a puller to attach
to..
The break adjustment was easy to get at with the tire on.


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