Small Engines (Lawn Mowers, etc.)/Transaxle shifter won't move


Please forgive me as I know nothing about small engines or transaxles, for that matter.  Ok, I have a 1991 Murray riding mower, 38" deck, 12hp Briggs and Stratton engine.  The issue I'm having is with the transaxle.  It says "Foote 3865" - I hope that helps.  Basically, the shifter won't shift-it won't move at all.  I took the transaxle out and opened it up and the shifter assembly is seized up.  I'm not sure if this part is supposed to come out of the assembly or not, which is why I haven't taken a hammer to it yet.  Everything in there looks fine, its just that the shifter won't move an inch.  Do I just hit it with a hammer to free it?  Is it supposed to come out?  It feels like it's welded in place, lol.  I really want to fix it but I don't want to mess anything up in the process. Also, the grease looks cracked and kind of dried up.  How can I clean all the old grease out?  And what kind of grease goes back in?  lol.  As I said, I have no idea what I'm messing with.  Any advice would be sincerely appreciated!!!  Thanks so much!

Let's start with the grease.  First, DO NOT let the gear clusters or washers come a part...the warsher have to go on a certain dircction.

Use some heavy rubber gloves and scrape out as much as possible.  Next use the solvent of your choice, parts cleaner, gasoline, paint thinner, etc., to clean the rest of the grease out of the transmission.  Make sure what ever you use that is is properly disposed of based on your local regulations.

So now it's clean.

As for the shifter, there is a detent and ball under a set screw you need to remove.  The set screw is located in a hole on the top of the gear box housing.  Remove with an allen NOT loose the spring and ball.  You should now be able to move the shifter.  DO NOT hit the top of the shifter!!!  If you need to lightly tap it out, install a bolt into the shifter bolt hole and gently tap the bolt.

With is all clean and the shifter moving put all the internal parts back in the bottom case.  Make sure you align the bronze bushing tangs in the case housing...there are small cut outs for the tangs.  Also, make sure the differential is (axles) are aligned...messed this up before.

When all the parts are inside the top case should go on easy with no gaps in the housing.  Once you know all the internal parts are installed properly, use some silicone on the bottom case as a sealer...just go all the way around the lower or upper case.

Fill with new Grease: Bentonite Grease, Tecumseh Part Number 788067B.

Use the link below and find a similar transaxle and use the same about of grease.  The Peerless transaxles that look similar to yours are actually very similar so the repair manual can be used on Foote/Dana transaxles.

Let me know if this helps.

Small Engines (Lawn Mowers, etc.)

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Eric A. Jones


Lawnmower Repair . Certified Master Service Technician from B&S. Have 23 years experience on B&S, Lawn Chief, Weed Eater, Echo, Peerless, Wheel Horse, Snapper, Atlas, MTD, McCulloch, Homelite and many other numerous brands. Specialize in electrical repair.


Born and raised in the midwest. Started tinkering with engines when I was about 14 on my Suzuki RM-80. I began lawn mower repair at a small hardware store. I knew absolutely nothing. I read lots of repair manuals and met an older fellow who taught me many lessons. I continued working on small engines through high school and paid my way through college working on mowers at the same hardware store. Decided to get away from the midwest and mower repair so I joined the Air Force. I repaired air traffic control electronic equipment and ended up in Hawaii where I got a part time job at Small Engine Clinic. I gained a lot of experience from the Small Engine Clinic and had a blast repairing small engines. I then took the Briggs and Stratton Master Service Technician test and earned my MST. I then traveled to Wisconsin where I attended the factory update training seminar and received formal training. Continued working on mowers part time as I completed 20 years of military. Retired from the military on a Friday and continued in the lawn and garden industry the next Monday.

MAS Aerospace Operations BA Mathematics AAS Electronic Communications AAS Electronic Technology

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