Inspiring you to fix things & showing you how

Replacing Westwood / Countax stub axle bearings

Whilst servicing this Countax C300H lawn tractor I noticed the steering was really hard to turn and it was very difficult to keep the tractor pointing straight. It didn’t take long to spot the cause: the right hand stub axle was wobbling around in the front axle beam. The Countax stub axle bearings needed to be replaced (there are 2). I wanted to take it apart before ordering the bearings, so I could check the stub axle hadn’t also been damaged.

Tools I used for replacing the Countax stub axle bearings

  • 19mm socket
  • 17mm socket and spanner
  • Jack
  • Axle stands
  • Penetrating fluid
  • Metre ruler for doing the wheel alignment
  • Scotchbrite pad
  • Suitable drift for tapping in the new bearings. An appropriately sized socket will be fine.

Removing the stub axle

Before I go any further, the stub axle is the roughly L shaped piece of metal that has the front wheel mounted on it on one end, and (in the case of the right side stub axle) the steering arm attached to it on the other.

Here’s how to remove it:

  1. Remove the deck tension bar to make space for a jack to fit underneath. With this out of the way, jack up the front of the tractor and support it with axle stands. Blocks of wood or bricks would also be fine, it’s not that heavy at the front. In fact if you’re feeling brawny you could lift the front up yourself and insert a suitable piece of wood with your foot. If you do this, make sure there are some people watching so they can be suitably impressed by your Herculean efforts.
  2. Undo the wheel nut and remove the wheel, keeping a note of the order the washers came off.
  3. Wedge a block of wood under the wheel on the other side, to stop the axle beam moving up and down when the hammer comes out (read on).
  4. Undo the track rod end from the stub axle arm.
  5. Remove the steering arm from the top of the stub axle, by removing the pinch bolt on the clamp. If you’re doing this job on the left side of your tractor, you won’t have a steering arm to remove. With the pinch bolt removed from the steering arm clamp, you may find that your stub axle falls down on its own. This didn’t happen to me as the stub axle was thoroughly stuck in the clamp, so I used a hammer and a small flat punch to encourage the stub axle through the clamp. The tractor I worked on for this article also had a C clip holding the stub axle in place, but according to the Countax parts diagrams, it shouldn’t have had this! I think a stub axle from a different tractor was used by a previous owner in a pinch.
  6. Withdraw the stub axle, taking note of how the spacer washers are installed (unless they’ve been completely worn away, as in my case).

Inspect the stub axle. In my case the stub axle was both bent and worn out beyond repair. The damaged bearings had worn substantial grooves in the stub axle, meaning that new bearings wouldn’t sit straight on it. Time to order a new stub axle.

If you end up buying a new stub axle, you may need to order a new wheel nut as well. At some point Countax changed the thread on the stub axle, so in my case, the old nut didn’t fit.

Tapping out the old bearings

With the stub axle removed, the steering bearings can be tapped out. In my case, the lower bearing was so worn out that most of it fell out when the stub axle was removed.

  1. Use a pin punch or something else suitable (e.g a long 1/4″ extension) and a small hammer to tap the lower bearing out. Don’t do all your taps in one place, work your way around the bearing and keep tapping round in circles until the bearing comes out. They aren’t very tight.
  2. Working upside down, do the same for the upper bearing.
Picture showing Countax stub axle bearing removal

Countax stub axle bearings – part numbers

The bearings are 62032RS 3/4″ and you’ll need 2 of them.

If you need a stub axle, the part number for the one I used was 327015200. Please check this is correct for your tractor before ordering as there are a few different options.

Installing the new Countax stub axle bearings

  1. Clean inside the tube before installing the new bearings, then apply a small amount of lubricant.
  2. Find a suitable drift to press the bearings in to place. The best choice is something that only presses on the outer race, avoiding the grease/dust seal and the inner race. I’ve got a range of these from a bush puller kit. Sockets also work fine. Another option is to make a simple puller from some threaded bar, nuts and thick washers.
  3. Position the bearing so it’s aligned in the top of the tube. Hold your chosen drift in place on the top of the bearing.
  4. Tap round your drift in a circular motion until the bearing is in place. The top of the bearing should be flush with the axle tube.
  5. Repeat the process for the other bearing.
Picture showing installation of Countax stub axle bearings

Reassembly

Now it’s time to refit the stub axle, steering arm, track rod and wheel.

Make sure all the washers go back in the right places. There should be a large washer touching the bearing outer surfaces top and bottom.

There should be (almost) no up and down play in the stub axle once the steering arm clamp has been refitted.

Wheel Alignment

You may think this is going too far, it is only a lawn tractor after all.

In my opinion, it’s worth getting the wheel alignment right, as this makes the tractor easier to steer and therefore more relaxing to use. We’re not going for 4 wheel laser alignment precision here, just the basics:

  • The tractor goes straight when the steering wheel is straight.
  • Neutral wheel tracking or a very slight toe in.

The lengths of both the steering arm and track rod can be adjusted to get the steering aligned. In my case, both of them needed adjustment. Unfortunately all the rod ends were seized onto their rods, to the extent that I had to remove both the steering rod and track rod to free them up in a vice.

Set the tracking by measuring the distance between the outer edges of the front tyres, at the most forward and rearward points on the tyres. You’re aiming for these measurements to be the same, or for the forward measurement to be slightly less than the rearward measurement. Do this first (i.e. before aligning the steering wheel), as it may help the tractor to steer straight.

Once you’ve got the tracking about right, you can adjust the length of the steering arm so that the tractor goes straight when the steering wheel is straight.

All done!

That’s it, your Countax stub axle bearings are replaced and now you can crack on and enjoy your smooth steering, straight pointing lawn tractor.

Here’s a video of me doing the repair!

Finally, if you need manuals for your Countax tractor, they are available here.

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