Archive for John Deere Technical

John Deere TiresWhen choosing the right tractor for your needs you will also be faced with making a proper tire selection. And when you are a first time tractor buyer it is difficult to know what is best. I know I struggled with this decision when buying my tractors. The tires are classified in the industry as R1, R3, and R4 which designates the construction, sizes, and treads.
The R1 tire is the “agricultural” tread which is the most aggressive in providing excellent traction and is superior in the field and muddy conditions. There are 2 different types of R1 tires, rice paddy found on the Japanese tractors and regular Ag tread found on most farm tractors. Rice paddy tires have deeper lug treads which help “paddle” the unit through very wet muddy conditions. Regular Ag is more of the field tire if choice. It does not have as deep of a lug as the Rice paddy tire and yet it still provides excellent traction. The R1 Ag tire provides a better ride on the fields and roads. R1 tires are also self-cleaning so when operating in muddy conditions the distance between the lugs is large enough that the mud has a difficult time sticking to the tire. R1 tires also are the narrowest of the three.
R3 tires are generally known as “turf” tires and are most commonly found on the golf course or the typical riding mower. Turf tires are grass friendly and tend not to tear the ground up, especially in soft wet conditions. They also have the most ground contact area since they have the shallowest tread depth. R3s do provide the smoothest ride compared with the other two types. R3 tires are also the widest of the three to help provide a large ground contact patch to yield a large traction area to the ground. This tread pattern is not very efficient in a muddy environment. Bear in mind though, one can still do damage to the lawn if the wheel is allowed to spin.
The last is the R4 or “industrial” tire. This tire is commonly used by contractors, landscapers, and now home owners as an all-purpose tractor tire. It has large, shallow, closely spaced lugs that provide traction and is still easy on the lawn. The R4 tread is designed similar to the R1 in that it tends to be self-cleaning. The R4 tire has a very sturdy sidewall construction capable of handling heavier loading. This means that if you have loader work, these tires will handle it unlike the R1 and R3 with softer sidewalls. R4 tires provide great traction and being that they are wider than the R1 tire, they gain the advantage of extra contact with the ground. Due to its large contact area with the ground the R4 tire is easy on the lawn. In 2wd, the R4 tire will be no more damaging to a lawn than a R3.

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PTO Shaft Geometry

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John Deere PTO ShaftPTO vibration is caused by the universal joints and is especially pronounced when cornering. The output velocity of a single U-joint operating at an angle fluctuates, even though the input velocity is constant. This output velocity fluctuation becomes greater as the angle of the U-joint is increased. To eliminate the velocity fluctuation and hence the PTO vibration, two universal joints are used. The velocity fluctuation caused by the first U-joint is cancelled by the second U-joint, only if both are operated at the same angle and are in phase with each other.

Since most tractor/implement PTO‘s use the two U-joint system, why may there still be PTO vibration? It is because the U-joints are not operating at the same angle. Most tractors with a 540 rpm PTO have a distance of 14 inches from the end of the tractor PTO shaft to the hitch point. Most implements, however, have a distance greater than 14 inches from the hitch point to the end of the implement input shaft. This design is necessary to allow sufficient telescoping action of the PTO shaft, so the shaft does not bottom out on sharp turns and does not allow the two parts of the PTO shaft to separate when the PTO is in line with the drawbar. This geometry however, does not allow the U-joints to operate at equal angles, when cornering.

Many implement manufacturers are supplying a tractor hitch extension with their implements. This extension increases the distance from the end of the tractor PTO shaft to the hitch point. The implement and PTO shaft are designed around this new geometry so the U-joints will operate at equal angles. This geometry is commonly called the EQUAL ANGLE HITCH. Existing equipment can be modified to obtain an equal angle hitch. For example, a 540 rpm PTO driven machine is hitched to a tractor. The distance from the end of the tractor PTO shaft to the hitch point is the standard 14 inches. The distance from the hitch point to the input shaft of the machine is measured and found to be 20 inches, making the overall distance 34 inches (14 and 20). For the PTO to operate at equal angles the hitch point should be 17 inches (34 divided by 2) from both the end of the tractor PTO and the input shaft of the machine.
A 3 inch extension is bolted to the tractor drawbar and the machine hitch is shortened 3 inches. It should be noted the overall distance of 34 inches has not changed and the original PTO shaft can still be used. However, the machine cannot be operated unless the drawbar extension is bolted to the tractor drawbar.

As mentioned earlier it is important to phase the U-joints correctly. Proper phasing of the U-joints allows the velocity fluctuation caused by the first U-joint to be cancelled by the second. Improper phasing compounds the velocity fluctuations and will cause severe vibration. The two parts of many PTO shafts are designed to fit together the correct way only.

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Changing Oil in Your John DeereThere seems to be more and more first time owners of sub-compact and compact tractor owners. I too joined this ever growing group back in 2008 when I first purchased my 2520 John Deere with a 72 inch mower deck and 60 inch brush. And then, not to long after the front end loader, a must have if you own one of these machines. A lot of learning now faced me as I started to use my machine. You know, 4wd, differential lock, power steering, 3 point hitch, and not to mention all the cool hydraulics. It does seem like a daunting task but, just take one step at a time, master it, and then move on to the next. And before you know it you’ll know what every lever and foot pedal does.

If you again are like me, then you will be doing your own maintenance on your pride and joy. There is no better way to really know your tractor than to do your own maintenance. And as I already stated, there are some completely new systems on these machines. For example, all new to me is the hydraulics, not so much the hydrostatic drive, but the increased complexity and all the auxiliary options. Then there is the added fact these machines are diesel, which again, is all new to me, and lest we forget, a cooling system and 4wd to learn and take care of. This is just the maintenance to deal with just the tractor alone. Along with it come all the attachments that require their own understanding and maintenance. But, that is completely another topic.

Once you thoroughly learn all about your tractor you are ready to test your knowledge and put it to use. Suddenly you are finding tasks using your new powerful machine to do things you never dreamed of before. And the ones you did know of have become so easy and pleasant they are not enough to feed your desire to spend more time in its seat. Moving mulch, mowing the lawn, grading the lane, and re-contouring the landscape is actually become tasks that you are looking forward to doing. And now suddenly you have noticed that the hour meter is hitting that precious 50 hour mark. Why is the 50 hour mark so important? It is where John Deere recommends that the oils and filters be changed.

As big a company as John Deere is I must give them credit in that they really do a pretty good job with their owner’s manuals. Now mind you, the still make a few mistakes here and there, but on the overall they are pretty good. I know that from tractor to tractor some of the maintenance intervals very. But, my point being that the owner manual won’t let you down. So just follow it step for step and you will make for some happy tractor time. And if that still isn’t good enough, just come and join us at

John Deere PlowNo matter what tractor you have, the initial tire setting for a 12 inch plow is 23 1/2 inches from the center of the draw bar of the tractor to the inside of the right rear tire. 14 inch plow is 25 inches and 16 inch is 27 inches. You can compensate a little if you are off on these measurements by sliding the plow A-Frame on the plow crossbar.

Once you get to the field, lower the plow and make 1 pass, plowing about as deep as you need. Then the second pass, let your right rear tire drop down into the furrow, lower your plow and start the second furrow. Now, get off the tractor and adjust your right leveling crank assembly on your tractor 3 point until the plow is level with the field, left to right. Next adjust your top link until your plow is level with the field front to back.

Now, plow this furrow to the end and on the 3rd furrow fine tune your plow again by repeating the last procedure. All plows should have cross hitch bars that have the right pin down and the left pin upward (standing behind the plow looking forward). This offset is approx 3-4 inches and is built into the plow.

In extra hard plowing conditions, you can loosen you cross hitch bar clamps and rotate it maybe 10-15 degrees to the back and if the plowing is easy then you can rotate the cross hitch bar the opposite way 10-15 degrees. By doing this final adjustment, the plow will do its best job with less strain on the tractor.

When a plow is set correctly, It will follow the centerline of the tractor perfectly without your riding the brakes and it completely turn over the soil.

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It seems a few owners haven’t gotten their new 1 series tractors equipped with either the 54 or 60D mower setup correctly. This will explain how to do it yourself for the best possible mower performance! Most if not all of this information can be found in the John Deere Owner’s Manuals for the mower and the tractor. The procedure is the same for the 54″ and 60″ decks, mechanical or independent lift. There is one additional step for mechanical lift equipped tractors. More on that later…

First you’re going to need a few tools. A 1 1/8″ wrench, a tape measure or better yet the JD mower leveling gauge p/n AM130907. The tractor needs to be parked on a smooth and level surface.

-This step is for mechanical lift equipped tractors only-  To adjust MMM rockshaft lift strap (located between 3PH rockshaft and MMM rockshaft behind left rear wheel) you remove the mower and remove the hair pin clips and pins (D) to disconnect the lift links (E) from both lift arms. Raise the 3PH fully. Rotate mower cut height knob to lock position. Remove left rear wheel. (You might be able to skip this if you can reach the 3 bolts on the lifting strap.) Loosen the three bolts on the lift strap. Rotate mid mount rockshaft (B) forward until there is a small gap (A) between the the height cam (C) and mid mount rockshaft (B). Move lift strap forward to the end of travel slot and tighten the three bolts. (I’d use 1/16″ to 1/8″ for a goal for this gap.) Reinstall left rear wheel and mower.

First you want to adjust the side lift links (E) for maximum lift. To do this you’ll want to start the tractor and raise the mower all the way. Rotate the mower height adjustment knob to the lock position. Now look at the mower height cam (C) above the left rear mower latch. It’s just behind the left rear tire. You want to see a gap at “A”. I’ve found that a gap of about 1/8″ is perfect.

To get this gap set right you first need to unlock all anti-scalp wheels, turn the mower height adjustment knob to the “install” position, and then lower the deck to the ground. Then remove the hair pin clips and pins (D) and adjust both links (E) up equally. Now you need to raise the mower fully and check for the gap (A) between the height cam (C) and the rock shaft arm (B). Repeat this process until you get close to 1/8″.
Here is the gap on my tractor.

The next picture shows the mower resting on the height cam “lock” position.

Now we are going to adjust side to side level. Set your mower height adjustment knob to your desired mowing height and lower your mower. Measure your blade height and adjust the same side links to achieve level within 1/8″ to 1/4″. I was able to achieve the same measurement on both sides. I usually mow at 3″ and marked the scale accordingly.


After you’ve set level side to side, recheck your maximum height setting. Here is my tractor at full travel, mower resting on the lock position, and install position.

To adjust front to rear level we’ll need your mower at your desired mowing height. Measure a blade from the front and at the rear. It doesn’t matter which blade. The optimal setting is 1/8″ to 1/4″ front lower than the rear. This reduces friction on the rear of the blades and make the front of the blade do all of the cutting and discharging. The front draft arms will adjust front to rear leveling. First lower the deck to the install position and loosen the rear draft arm nuts with the 1 1/8″ wrench. (The nuts closest to the mower.) It may help to drive the tractor off of the mower just to loosen the rear nuts. Raise the mower back to the desired mowing height. Tighten the front nuts the same amount (it helps to count flats) to raise the front of the deck. Loosening lowers the front of the deck. Double check your front to rear level once you got the draft arm adjustment nuts tight.

The Auto-Connect carrier bearing needs to be adjusted for easy connection as well. If you remove the mower it will be easier. Lower the mower/mower lift arms all the way to the install position. There is an adjustment bolt under the bearing to adjust for between perpendicular to the ground to leaning ever so slightly forward. I found this makes for the best connection.

Now it’s time to go mow your yard and enjoy your tractor!

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