This would be only my second clutch installation so not an expert by any means. When putting the two halves back together I had my friend putting pressure on the one half while I used a screw driver to slowly turn the ring gear while it engaged the 1st shaft. I did the same immediately until the 2nd shaft engaged and then the two halves were close enough for the bolts to finish pulling them together. Anyhow it looks like I need to split the tractor again and check the clutch disk and pilot bearing as you and the reply from D seem to be pointing me there.
I installed two heavy gauge ground wires directly to the frame shortly after purchasing the tractor 7 years ago to alleviate starting problems back then.