I am in agreement with your thinking that some particular items are very brand specific. While I do use gates belts for many other applications only the correct factory issue part will give the best service for this particular case in my opinion.
The statement you made jarred my thinking from long days past, many years ago I did use an A79 Gates belt for the application and it provided decent service but for how long that was I can't recall.
If memory serves me that belt ran at toward the extreme top of the PTO pulley. Not really a big problem by itself.
A series belts are assigned values of plus two, that is to say an A79 belt will have an outside measure of 81 inches. I realize that you are closely associated with NAPA and I have nothing other than good things to say about 99% of their product line. However their Blade Runner brand belt failed for me in a miserable way twice.
I had not given thought into checking EvilBay but that's a point well taken. For me it's always been a 50/50 proposition with them. I guess the word here is let the buyer beware. The NOS items you mention were from two years back and chances are that stock is depleated by now, still it's an option worth looking at.
Now there may be folks reading this thread and saying to themselves OK, so what's the big deal?
Well I happen to think it's a HUGE deal, one that's big enough for me to toss a Craftsman throw away into the yard. I need to mow my lawn.
I have been scanning around the net and have come up with a couple other numbers that seem to match up-
Rotary has one listed as #10830
Stens has one listed as #265-037
I need also to look again into the 754-3037 CCC belt that Ray W. mentioned, but that could well amount to another half hour long kiss and tell session at the Cub dealer
Mr. negative ain't I
I know nothing about as to how the first two fit or perform. But I might be finding out, the belt pile in the milk carton is getting larger and larger