Rear Finish Mower John Deere 261 Finish Mower Idler Pulley replacements

   / John Deere 261 Finish Mower Idler Pulley replacements #1  


Elite Member
Sep 17, 2013
Yanmar YM2610, retired JD 850, retired DYT-4000
It seems that the previous owner neglected this heavy duty mower for about 7-years outside in the rain, frost and lite snow. It was a home to rabbits under the deck and squirrels living under the pulley deck cover. Now it's mine. :D

In the past year, I've done a complete power washing, sharpened the blades, and a new first belt. It squealed like a pig. I thought that was normal until the first belt went in a weeks time. :p I just added another new B-147 belt and it had ran a little longer. My logic was, the mower was sitting so long, it needs to be worked a bit to free everything up. :confused2:

OK, this summer, I had replaced a V-pulley guide. The bearings just self destructed. It was easy enough as Tractor Supply had one that is nearly identical. This task removed the annoying pig squealing.

Fast forward to this week as I went mowing the pasture at the end of the season down here, the belt had started SMOKING. I had then torn the mower apart once again. The two flat idle pulleys seized up their bearings now. :rolleyes: The problem is, these pulleys are not cheap at all, nor the size readily available. The flat pulley diameter is an odd 5.5-inches vs. the standard 5-inches found on most mowers.

So, has anyone ever taken the rivets out of a flanged flat pulley to just replace the bearings? If so, what did you use to fasten the two halves back together again?


Here is the JD-261 belt and pulley install diagram too.

   / John Deere 261 Finish Mower Idler Pulley replacements #2  
I'd try to make use of the 5" idlers and alter the belt tensioning link to take up the slack. Or, find some bearings and use steel pop rivets to put the halves back together. I use 1/4" steel pop rivets for a lot of similar assemblies. You need a special rivet 'puller' to squeeze them, though. Available at most auto shop stores. They are used in doors etc for a number of applications. Or, just use some short bolts and nuts. Grind off the extra length.
   / John Deere 261 Finish Mower Idler Pulley replacements
  • Thread Starter
I like the idea of the steel rivets or the short nuts-n-bolts. I've already grabbed 3/8-16 stainless bolts, nuts and washers that fit through the spindle shaft bearings. Those were rather hard to removed due to the rust.

The original tension spring rusted away years ago. I have a strong industrial door spring doing the job now. Supposedly there is a locking bracket to keep the spring-arm from moving. That's missing too on mine. BUT, I can't argue, got this as a gift from a friend. If it takes about $200 to get this in good working order, I've saved an easy $1,000.