Mower Deck MaintenanceBy
Over the past several years lawnmower manufacturers have been changing the design of the lawnmower deck and how it functions. Originally the decks were designed to rest on the ground with its gauge wheels supporting it. This allows the ground to completely control the contour and height of the cut directly related to the deck. The new designs now suspend the deck from the tractor with the gauge wheels set at about a quarter inch above the ground when the blades are set to the proper cutting height. The difference here is the tractor wheels now control the contour and height of cut. The gauge wheels only prevent scalping of uneven ground. I myself really prefer the new designs as I feel a much better finished result is achieved.
Now let us focus in on the deck maintenance. The majority of the deck maintenance is the same regardless of the mounting design. For example, cleaning, lubrication, blade sharpening, bearing and belt inspection and replacement are all the same as before. And basically, so is gauge wheel inspection and maintenance. The gauge wheels should need replacing less often without the deck being supported by them less often.
OK, now on to the major difference of these two designs. I was wondering if anyone else heeds the advice of their operator’s manual for their mower deck. I currently own a 62C and 72 John Deere mower decks. The 62C is mounted on a 2305 John Deere tractor and the 72 is mounted on a 2520 John Deere tractor. Both of my owner’s manuals have detailed procedures for leveling the mower deck front to back and side to side. I just did a recheck on mine and they were both in need of adjustment. The 62C needed the front to back tweaked and the 72 needed the side to side. I cannot recommend more highly the use of the leveling gauge sold by John Deere. What a great inexpensive tool. It really makes the job go so much more smoothly. Incidentally, I did check the level of both decks as delivered straight from the dealer when new and found that they did require some slight adjusting at that time as well. I am thinking that a level check is only needed every couple of years, or unless there is sufficient reason to do so sooner.
I find that doing my maintenance in the fall after the mowing season is finished works the best for me. I clean, inspect, and fix all that needs attention. I also sharpen and balance the blades at this time. Then come spring, all I have to do is mount the decks and mow. I do however check my level at this point rather than the fall. Having well maintained and leveled mower decks really yields premium results in a well groomed lawn.