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Welcome to the forum Hal!

Couple thoughts..

(1) How's your belt tension?

(2) Wondering if a key may have sheared on one or more of the pulleys from the zip line being wound up on the blades allowing one of the drive pulleys to turn on it's shaft?

Any sounds or smells as the blades seem to slow down? Your engine rpm stays up, correct?
 

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....I haven't really checked specifically for any sheared keys. With the blades engaged, there is not any missed sections in the grass so I have assumed that all blades were working. I will check again.
If one of them is slipping there ought to be some fine metal shavings or metallic dust close by to give it away. Same with a slipping clutch. Another possible test would be to see if any of the bearings seem to be running hotter then the others after you shut it down.

I can't help but suspect it is related to the zipline incident. The blade spindle bearings and the clutch would have taken the brunt of that. I wound up some twin on mine years ago and it heated up and took out the lower grease seal on a blade spindle bearing. Eventually due to lack of grease and dirt getting in the bearing loosened up. Oddly enough it really did not make much noise but it allowed the blade to wobble enough that the grass looked like it was being chewed instead of cut on one side of the deck. It was bad enough at that point I could take hold of the blade and wiggle it enough side to side to hear a clink. :eek:

One other thing a quick stop like that could cause would be a partly sheared flywheel key on the engine. But normally that would show itself with the engine running poorly or not running at all since it throws off the spark timing.
 

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...Are you aware our to check it or if there are adjustments?
Probably has an air gap adjustment. But you would need to figure out who made the clutch and try to find a service manual for either it or the tractor in general to really know what specs to set it to.

You could try running your Poulan tractor model number through Sears Parts or some other online site to get a part number for the clutch and that might also tell the manufacture of it. From there might be able to get some information from the clutch manufactures website.
 

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Unfortunately I'm running out of ideas too aside from grasping at straws. :dunno:

With that much drag one would think something should be getting real hot somewhere. Wonder if it still could go back to an engine problem that is causing loss of power under load? Lean fuel mixture or weak spark maybe?

Do you notice any hesitation when quickly moving the throttle from idle to full rpm after the engine is good and hot?
 
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