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If you want go, you gotta have whoa. There's no question about it. For safety, it's best to repair or replace worn brake parts and adjust them if needed.
Separate the Brake and Clutch Operations - (This have been done by many professional pullers in the past.) (Added 8/13/15)
With the clutch/brake pedal, when applying the brakes on a Cub Cadet pulling tractor that has an extremely stiff clutch pressure spring (on the driveshaft), great effort is required (muscle) to overcome and compress the clutch spring before the brakes can be applied. This requires great effort (muscle) to depress the clutch/brake pedal to apply the brakes especially by hand (or with your leg). What can be done to change this is separate the brake(s) and the clutch operations by disconnecting the brake linkage from the clutch/brake pedal cross shaft, and then fabricate a long upright lever (with an adjustable linkage) on the right side of the steering column support pedestal which can be easily and effortlessly pulled back (rearward) by hand to apply the brakes. The clutch/brake pedal will then become just a "clutch pedal," and the lever will be the "brake lever." This would make it much safer and easier to fully stop or slow the tractor down a steep hill or when unloading the tractor down the ramp(s) of a utility trailer or platform work table. Also, a "parking brake" lock mechanism can be installed on the brake lever-to-tractor frame to securely lock the brakes in position to prevent the tractor from rolling or coasting when the tractor is out of gear and the engine running.
If your IH Cub Cadet model 70, 72, 73, 100, 102, 122, 124, 582, 682, 782, 784 (prior to serial # 720000), and certain 800, 1000 and 1200's, have an internal brake like the one shown to the right, the adjustment is easily made by loosening the jam nut (on the square-head bolt) and rotating the square-head bolt clockwise. Make the adjustment when there's a slight drag on the brake pads and disc when the clutch/brake pedal is about 3/4 depressed. After the brake is adjusted correctly, tighten the jam nut so the adjuster bolt won't loosen over time while the tractor is in use.
But if you can't get the brake to work at all by tightening the square-head bolt, and you are sure that the rod is pushing the cast brake rod back when the pedal goes down, then the piston is frozen in the reduction housing by rust (this is common in tractors that have sat outside for years).
How to Free-Up a Frozen/Rusted-In Brake Pad Retainer (Plunger) -
This happens when a tractor is left outside in damp weather for many years, which causes the brake pad retainer (plunger) to get rusted in the bore. To free the plunger, remove the transaxle from the tractor, and from inside the reduction gear box housing, remove the large reduction gear, then use a large, flat cold chisel and big hammer between the plunger and brake disc to drive the plunger forward. Use Liquid Wrench to dissolve the rust around the retainer. The brake disc may get scored or scratched from use of the chisel, but this is the only way I know how to do this. Once the plunger is removed from the reduction housing, the scratches on the brake disc can be removed and smoothed over with a fine file. Before reinstalling the plunger, clean the rust from the plunger, install a new rubber O-ring and new brake pads if needed, and remove the rust from the plunger bore with a small, automotive wheel cylinder hone tool, then apply automotive grease on the plunger and inside the bore so the brake will work flawlessly for many years.
To replace this type of brake, first remove the transaxle from the tractor. Then, remove the square head bolt, drive out the rocker shaft and remove the cast brake arm. Try tapping on the piston and use penetrating oil on it to free it. Often, the transaxle will have to be removed from the tractor and the reduction housing removed to drive the brake pad retainer out from inside and clean up the bore and retainer. If you go that far, replace both pucks with new ones, they are cheap. On reassembly, coat the outside of the piston with a thin layer of motor oil.
If the brake pad retainer is stuck in place, here's how to fix it...
Parts for this job will involve a new "O" ring for the retainer that the cast rod and shaft pushes on, a reduction gear housing gasket or use Permatex® Clear RTV Silicone Adhesive Sealant, and 2 new brake pucks. Use only OEM material when replacing the brake pucks. FYI - I'm not an OEM Cub Cadet parts dealer. Cub Cadet won't let me become a dealer because there's already one in my area. (It's another way how big businesses support other big businesses, or how the rich help the rich get richer.) Besides, competition from different dealers in the same area help keep prices low. I think this is unfair business practice because by allowing only one dealer in a wide-spread area can have them gouge (overcharge) unsuspecting customers on parts and/or repair costs. They probably laugh all the way to the bank after every sale, too.
The internal brake is preferred by most Cub Cadet owners and pullers over the external disc setup, and are normally almost totally trouble-free because the parts stay cleaner than the external brakes.
To Replace the Internal Type of Brake Pads...
Only the early Cub Cadets (models 70, 72, 73, 100, 102, 122, 124, 582, 682, 782, 784 (prior to serial # 720000), and certain 800, 1000 and 1200's) were equipped with an internal brake. The Cub Cadet engineers realized later that people were hauling heavy (fully loaded, automotive-type) trailers around their property (farms) with these tractors, and the small internal brake pads couldn't stop the tractor and trailer well, especially when going down a steep hill. Nor does it have the ability to "park" well (with a heavy trailer) downward or upward on a steep hillside. That's why Cub Cadet converted to the external disc/axle brake system, as described further down in this web page. External disc/axle brakes have more contact area, permitting the external brakes to hold about 5 times better than the internal brake.
The external/axle disc brakes on Cub Cadet models 86, 106, 107, 108, 109, 126, 127, 128, 129, 149, 784 w/serial number 720000 and up, 1250, 1450, 1650 and and certain 800, 1000 and 1200's are much easier to service than the internal brake models above. Unlike the brake pads above, a piece of .125" thickness 6061 (medium hardness) aluminum will work. Use highly adhesive glue or countersink some 3/16" aluminum rivets or flat-head brass bolts to fasten the aluminum in place.
The front brake pads that's made for a 1998-2001 Chevrolet S10 2wd pickup can be used in place of the OEM pads for these type of brakes. This is the flat pad with slotted ends. They're available at virtually any auto parts store. The thickness of a new OEM Cub Cadet brake pad is .100". The automotive pads are thicker.
The automotive brake pads to use are the riveted-on type. Grind the backs off the rivets. The two top rivet holes should line up enough to get two screws through them. Then turn the pads over, and from the back side, use a drill bit to go through the Cub backing plate. Drill through the pad and turn it over. Counter sink the holes to install two more screws.
Also, I have no information on how to mount the S10 brake pads on a Cub Cadet. Somebody gave me this information and I posted it here. Use the information here to the best of your knowledge.
Also, seasoned oak wood or 6061 aluminum can be used as external brake friction material for a Cub Cadet. But only if the tractor doesn't go any faster than factory gearing! NEVER use wood or aluminum as brake friction material in a high speed (above 20 mph) vehicle or in an automobile! The reason being, due to severe friction, wood will burn and aluminum will melt!
To adjust these type of brakes, there's an adjusting rod going forward from each axle end. You'll need to remove them, clean the dirt and paint from the threads with a threading die, a wire brush or a wire wheel, then reinstall them. Place the brake pedal with the hold down lever in place then adjust them to where each axle has the same amount of braking.
Internal Brake VS External Brake Transaxles -
Many professional pullers prefer to use the internal brake transaxle so the rear wheels can be set closer to the tractor frame, allowing for a narrower wheelbase. This requires the driver to lean less when heading toward the boundary line, and the tractor can pull more straight down the track.
To convert a Cub Cadet external brake transaxle into an internal brake design, a front gear reduction housing, brake pad retainer, brake link, brake lever, pushrod, pivot pin, brake pads, disc and the lower main shaft, off/out of an internal brake transaxle are required. The opposite will need to be done when converting a Cub Cadet internal brake transaxle into an external brake design. It's exactly easier (and less costly) to acquire an entire internal or external brake transaxle (in good condition, of course), install it, and fabricate or install the required brake linkage. All IH Cub Cadet tractor frames, except the "Original", are made for use with either transaxle.
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