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I have a 1050 and the shaft has about 3/4 inch "free play" in it. I also have a 1256 and that one doesn't. The exposed ends of the shaft on both are the same. I've taken it out and I can't find anything wrong. Snap rings seem ok.. the oil seal doesn't seem to have a groove to hold it in place and slides on the shaft. Are the belts supposed to keep it where it belongs? Want to make sure everything is ok before I put the belts on and hook up my tiller. Just bought these as a package deal and very new and green to these little tractors. The 1050 was in working condition and the 1256 a restoration project. Oh, and they had wire wrapped around the shaft to take care of the free play I'm guessing. That's why I took it apart.
 

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Accumulator
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That does seem like an excessive amount of "free play". It shouldn't be like that. And yes,the belts will tend to keep it where it belongs to a certain extent,but that's not right.
 
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DR. Bolens
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That does seem like an excessive amount of "free play". It shouldn't be like that. And yes,the belts will tend to keep it where it belongs to a certain extent,but that's not right.

There is usually a bit of play , but there should not be as much as you described.
I'll attach a picture in case you didnt see an exploded view of the PTO yet so you can see if your possibly missing anything:
 

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