A slipping or worn belt on your Bolens 38-inch riding mower may call a halt to cutting your lawn. Many walk-behind mowers have a single cutting blade that is attached directly to the engine crankshaft under the cutting deck. Bolens riding mowers are different in that they have twin cutting blades that are belt-driven. Belt installation on a 38-inch Bolens mower does not require specialized tools and can be done in about an hour.
Bolens 38-inch Deck
Bolens riding mowers are available with cutting decks of different widths. The smallest of these is the 38-inch model. A cutting deck made from sheet metal with twin cutting blades is mounted underneath the mower. The design of the cutting deck forces cut grass through a chute in the side of the deck. A block-off panel is installed over the chute if cutting blades with mulching capability are being used.
Purpose of Belt
The cutting blades within the mower deck rotate on spindles that protrude through the top of the deck. Pulleys mounted to the end of the spindles spin a flexible belt that, in turn, spins the cutting blades. The belt gets its power from the electric clutch pulley mounted underneath the engine. The belt on a Bolens 38-inch mower is much like that of an automotive fan belt. The belt may stretch out or wear and will need to be replaced.
Existing Belt Removal
The cutting deck belt can be removed without removing the cutting deck from the tractor as is the case with larger Bolens riding mowers. To remove the belt, first slide the cutting deck adjustment lever on the right rear fender next to the driver's seat to its lowest notch. This gives you room to work above the mower deck. Remove the retaining bolts from the belt keeper under the clutch pulley on the underside of the engine. Lower the keeper and set it aside. Slip the belt off the clutch pulley by hand. Remove the retaining bolts from the pulley guards on top of the deck. Lift the guards straight up to access the spindle pulleys. Make a note of the belt routing then slip the belt off the remaining pulleys. Remove the belt from the deck.
Compare the old and new belts and ensure they are of equal length and width. Notice that the inside of the belt has a narrower cross-section than the outer edge. Slip the narrow side of the belt into the grooves of the two spindle pulleys on each side of the deck. Route the wider side of the belt around the spring-loaded idler pulley at the front of the deck. Slip the belt back around the clutch pulley under the engine. Replace the belt keeper and pulley guards and tighten the retaining fasteners. Use the deck adjustment lever to raise the deck to its highest setting until you are ready to mow.