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View Full Version : Never trust your dealer, and a deck setup question...


fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 06:33 PM
Last couple weeks I have had a lawn or two that looked brownish after cutting, as if the deck were too low. Shrugged it off as grass not completely out of dormancy.

Today after the same deal I checked my deck and at the 3 inch setting, the blade was TWO INCHES from the concrete. Dealer never did set it up correctly, and I haven't discovered this for 2 years... Amazing I didn't lose customers, but the issue didn't show up on all the lawns.

To make matters worse, this is the 60" Z, as you all know wide decks are already prone to scalping even when the height is correct.

Today it was a brand new residential account. I called the customer, explained what happened, apologized and gave them a 100% discount. Lucky for me, they were very understanding and are ok with it all...

Shame on me for not checking this myself. Don't trust the dealer to do it right.

What's the proper pitch for deck setup? And where do you measure it? I assume the bottom of the deck skirt on front and back?

CLS LLC
04-29-2010, 07:58 PM
It's best if the front of the deck is about an 1/8 to a 1/4 of an inch lower than the rear.

frotis
04-29-2010, 08:01 PM
How did you not notice in the first few seconds of cutting?

fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 08:19 PM
It didn't happen with the entire lawn. Its somewhat bumpy and there are high spots, I attributed it to that. as I said on the smooth lawns there were no issues other than the fact that I was unknowingly cutting too low.

I blame myself just as much as the guy that set it up for not checking.
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coxslawncare
04-29-2010, 08:26 PM
could something have worked itself loose? I would think at somepoint in the past 2 years you would have noticed that it was cutting at 2 inches instead of 3

nepatsfan
04-29-2010, 08:36 PM
Last couple weeks I have had a lawn or two that looked brownish after cutting, as if the deck were too low. Shrugged it off as grass not completely out of dormancy.

Today after the same deal I checked my deck and at the 3 inch setting, the blade was TWO INCHES from the concrete. Dealer never did set it up correctly, and I haven't discovered this for 2 years... Amazing I didn't lose customers, but the issue didn't show up on all the lawns.

To make matters worse, this is the 60" Z, as you all know wide decks are already prone to scalping even when the height is correct.

Today it was a brand new residential account. I called the customer, explained what happened, apologized and gave them a 100% discount. Lucky for me, they were very understanding and are ok with it all...

Shame on me for not checking this myself. Don't trust the dealer to do it right.

What's the proper pitch for deck setup? And where do you measure it? I assume the bottom of the deck skirt on front and back?

2 years of cutting at 2 inches???? shame on you, not the dealer

fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 08:58 PM
2 years of cutting at 2 inches???? shame on you, not the dealer


Did you miss the part where I blamed myself TWICE for not checking it? I bolded that, maybe you won't miss it this time.

I share the blame, but is it too much to ask when you drop 8K on a brand new mower that the deck height adjustment is set up correctly? Maybe not, but I'd expect it....

All I'm saying is check it yourself, even if it's a new machine. I have definitely learned a lesson. Luckily it hasn't costed me any customers.

fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 09:02 PM
could something have worked itself loose? I would think at somepoint in the past 2 years you would have noticed that it was cutting at 2 inches instead of 3

I don't think so. There is a threaded rod on each side of the deck with jam nuts to adjust the "L" brackets that the deck hangs from. The jam nuts are all tight, so I don't think anything would have came loose or moved out of adjustment.

I just think that the reason I haven't noticed it is that the machine doesn't get used on rough or undulating terrain, I use the narrower deck stuff for that to prevent scalping or low marks from one side of the deck digging in. I've picked up a few residentials this season that I can't justify using a 48" mower on because they're large, and that's where the issue has been showing up. No change seen on any of the other properties.

ashgrove landscaping
04-29-2010, 09:38 PM
Try checking the height every month to keep an eye on it. All decks slowly drop and need adjustment to keep true. PIA but that s the way it is. But since it was new and already wrong sucks worse. I say the dealer is the main blame. Those guys are just a bunch of sales men wanting to gouge your wallet. I would go back and tell them about it with a very questiony attitude. Ya gotta put these guys in line sometimes, you re the one with the money, right.

topsites
04-29-2010, 09:43 PM
I have always had more than one lawn mower,
this isn't the reason but I would certainly notice
a height discrepancy right away.

That having been said, I can't say I've never pulled off some mega blunders before,
two years too low, that's a good one :p

Oh well, as they say, could happen to the best.

txgrassguy
04-29-2010, 09:45 PM
I learned while running golf courses not to trust a bench or mechanical height setting.
Somewhere, and I don't remember from where, I acquired a pivoting gauge that sits on the ground and provides a pretty accurate measurement regarding the height of the blade above the concrete.
I showed it to my primary equipment dealer and he said his mechanics use tape measures. He looked really puzzled when I asked how they were able to accurately check height on a 60" or 72" mid mount rotary deck without going to a chiropractor.
Two days later I was in for something and he says wait, goes in the back then returns with a similar gauge. That was over ten years ago and he still talks about it from time to time.

topsites
04-29-2010, 09:49 PM
LOL I use my fingers, if I can just barely get four fingers under it, 3"
If I can almost get my whole hand under there, 3.5"
If I can get the whole hand thumb and all under it, 4"
And so on, and it may not be exact but practice makes perfect.

nepatsfan
04-29-2010, 09:56 PM
Did you miss the part where I blamed myself TWICE for not checking it? I bolded that, maybe you won't miss it this time.

I share the blame, but is it too much to ask when you drop 8K on a brand new mower that the deck height adjustment is set up correctly? Maybe not, but I'd expect it....

All I'm saying is check it yourself, even if it's a new machine. I have definitely learned a lesson. Luckily it hasn't costed me any customers.

I saw it fine. Just seems like a very basic thing for a "pro" to notice especially over a 2 year period. I wouldnt make one pass cutting at two inches without realizing, nevermind a whole lawn, nevermind two years. I would agree that if you spend a lot of money the dealer should have it right but I really dont know how you could miss that. In fact....almost the very same thing happened to me with my scag tiger cub. Never had an issue..realized it right away. I am not being wise..Its like riding around in your truck with a flat tire for two years. To me its something that is so obvious that its easy to notice.

fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 10:02 PM
I understand what you're saying, and I don't really get it either... Part of the issue I think is that 99% of the time when I cut a property with the 60", the smaller mowers don't come out. The only other explanation is that it moved, but a couple other lawns I did today look exactly the same after cutting as they did the first year I was using it.

The "pro" comment is unnecessary, if every one that made a mistake was not professional, there wouldn't be any professionals in any industry, period.

I will dig up a few pics from before, cut with the Z set at 3 inches and I'll let you guys be the judge if I was blind or not.

Also I'd like to add, when I say "don't trust the dealer", that's not to say dealers aren't trustworthy. Mine has treated me very well. I'm just re-asserting that you should double check their work especially with something this important.

MJB
04-29-2010, 10:22 PM
Not to be a smart axx but are you sure you don't have a tire pressure issue on one side? 2 inches is a lot it would have to be extremely low but just asking. Otherwise get out your book and start releveling your deck, after checking your spindles and blades.

Hard to believe you didn't notice this until now. You would always see a difference in cut going back and forth and staring at it for 2 yrs. I think this just happened. I can tell when I have a tire running 2 pounds lower on 1 side just by the uneven cut.

fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 10:35 PM
As I said it cut several properties today and at the end of last week and they looked the same after cutting as they always have. I just think that getting on different properties with a bit more uneven turf which is a bit more brown underneath made it much more obvious. As I said I will post pics when I get home.
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carguyrob
04-29-2010, 11:10 PM
I've never taken the height marking very seriously on my mowers, I use them more as a guide than anything, mine is set at 3.5"...it probably cuts around 3" but I just go up or down from there depending on conditions. My other rider is set at 2.75" and cuts about the same as the one at 3.5".

mowerknower
04-29-2010, 11:15 PM
I've never taken the height marking very seriously on my mowers, I use them more as a guide than anything, mine is set at 3.5"...it probably cuts around 3" but I just go up or down from there depending on conditions. My other rider is set at 2.75" and cuts about the same as the one at 3.5".

Best response yet. Just use the numbers as a gage. I once had a guy cut my lawn when I was on vaca, he asked what hieght I mow at, I told him I set our 60 at 2.25. He set his there and scalped the **** out of my lawn. His front wheel bearings were out. You should mow at the height the lawn needs mowed. Not at inches

fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 11:21 PM
That's fine if you'd prefer to do it that way, I'd rather have the actual height the same, or at least very close to, wherever the pin is set at.
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FourTrees
04-29-2010, 11:46 PM
Have you replaced tires, losing a 1/2 of tread would lower it a bunch. Then low tire pressure would decrease it more. Just saying that you may have started at 3" but poor tire pressure and bald tires will really change thing. (Ever had a low tire and added air to it and watched as the whole mower lifts.) Small changes in tire pressure really changes things up.

I get that it is not primary mower, but I would think you would have noticed the difference in heights from you main mower (even just a visual look at properties. You can pretty much drive by a property you do not mow and guess at the mow height the grass is cut at, just with a visual look. Maybe not the difference between 3.25 and 3", but 2" vs 3" is a huge amount.

Sammy
04-29-2010, 11:48 PM
You measure from the tip of the blade, not the edge of the deck.

Sammy
04-29-2010, 11:54 PM
Here is what I use. Cost is $6.95. :)

http://www.greenfunstore.com/thumbnail.asp?file=assets/images/jdparts/2007/am130907m.jpg&maxx=425&maxy=0

fiveoboy01
04-29-2010, 11:56 PM
I did stick the tires, they were at 9 psi which I know is a bit low. Manual says 13 front and rear. Tread is only about 1/3 worn from new.

As far as where to measure, don't I want to use the bottom of the deck skirt for the pitch while measuring from the blade for the cutting height?
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MJB
04-30-2010, 12:18 AM
I did stick the tires, they were at 9 psi which I know is a bit low. Manual says 13 front and rear. Tread is only about 1/3 worn from new.

As far as where to measure, don't I want to use the bottom of the deck skirt for the pitch while measuring from the blade for the cutting height?
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You need to get that tool and measure to the tip of blade only. Rotate the blade forward and measure both ends from the concrete up. Make sure you have about 1/4 " lower in the front than the back.

The other way to test it is turn the blades side ways and measure to the floor to see if something is bent.

fiveoboy01
04-30-2010, 12:28 AM
Thanks for the expanation. So at the 3 inch setting, I assume I want the front to measure 3 inches and the rear to be 3-1/4 correct?
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MJB
04-30-2010, 01:03 AM
Thanks for the expanation. So at the 3 inch setting, I assume I want the front to measure 3 inches and the rear to be 3-1/4 correct?
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Thats correct the front lower than the back. Some mowers only need 1/8 " difference ,some 1/2" maximum.
What kind of mower is this ? Side to side needs to be the same also.

Every mower I've owned has always been off by an inch or so from the setting.
So if yours if off don't worry about it to much, it can be a pain to change it if it's off by much.

fiveoboy01
04-30-2010, 01:17 AM
Its a Lazer Z AS with an Utracut Deck. Looking at the adjustment mechanism there should be enough adjustment there. Ill get the pressures up on the tires then make any adjustments. Nice thing is I can adjust each corner independently.
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MJB
04-30-2010, 01:40 AM
Its a Lazer Z AS with an Utracut Deck. Looking at the adjustment mechanism there should be enough adjustment there. Ill get the pressures up on the tires then make any adjustments. Nice thing is I can adjust each corner independently.
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I have the same mower only a 2008. I've not had to check the pitch on the deck yet it's cut is good. But I noticed it cuts 3/4 inch higher than my older Exmark that I run side by side every day with. I took those skinny wheels and forks off of mine and put the wider ones on like whats on the Lazer Z's, improved the front end performance by not falling into ruts etc. I always run 13 lbs in mine too.

MJB
04-30-2010, 01:43 AM
Its a Lazer Z AS with an Utracut Deck. Looking at the adjustment mechanism there should be enough adjustment there. Ill get the pressures up on the tires then make any adjustments. Nice thing is I can adjust each corner independently.
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Oh yeah When you adjust each corner watch out that your deck chains all stay tight when hanging from the chains. If one is off the deck will rock a bit
so keep track of any changes you do, so if needed you can set it back to the way it was.
Let us know how it turns out.

fiveoboy01
04-30-2010, 01:45 AM
Mines an 08 too. Well I bought it in the spring of 08, not sure what model year that makes it.

The caster wheels are wider on the Lazer/XS models? I know the AS is the "budget" Z but I didn't know there was a difference in front tires. I wanted the Ultracut vs. The Triton. Mine does cut very nice, except for this problem which will be fixed soon.
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fiveoboy01
04-30-2010, 01:48 AM
Yeah by looking at it, I know that it has to stay even or there will be slack in one of the chains.
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fiveoboy01
04-30-2010, 01:51 AM
Another thing I think I found out too... There was a mysterious line a few inches inside each rear tire mark. I think that because the deck was so low, the welded-on bracket for the anti-scalp rollers was making a line through the turf. Since it wasn't getting run over by the rear tires, it was easy to see. I bet it disappears once I start cutting at the right height:)
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44DCNF
04-30-2010, 09:43 AM
When you air your tires up, use the measurement of the circumference or the height to verify same tire height for proper h.o.c. Due to variances in tire molds you may wind up with two slightly different sized tires. When aired up equally in that case, one could be taller than the other throwing off your height of cut. the
Take a length of small wire, cable, or trimmer line and wrap your 13 psi aired tire at the center of the tread; now mark a spot where the end meets the cable when wrapped around the tire. Roll second tire over cable and wrap the tire. Adjust air until end of cable and the mark meets the end again. Record the tire pressures of each tire that give you equal tire height or circumference (and mark on your rim if you wish). For height rather than circumference, use a level extending out from the top of the tire and measure the distance to the ground with a rule. You may find a couple pounds difference in air pressure is required to have equal height tires and level cut side to side. After you get equal tire height, adjust the deck.

FastMan
04-30-2010, 09:57 AM
Good advice, 44DCNF

bobo316
04-30-2010, 10:22 AM
When you air your tires up, use the measurement of the circumference or the height to verify same tire height for proper h.o.c. Due to variances in tire molds you may wind up with two slightly different sized tires. When aired up equally in that case, one could be taller than the other throwing off your height of cut. the
Take a length of small wire, cable, or trimmer line and wrap your 13 psi aired tire at the center of the tread; now mark a spot where the end meets the cable when wrapped around the tire. Roll second tire over cable and wrap the tire. Adjust air until end of cable and the mark meets the end again. Record the tire pressures of each tire that give you equal tire height or circumference (and mark on your rim if you wish). For height rather than circumference, use a level extending out from the top of the tire and measure the distance to the ground with a rule. You may find a couple pounds difference in air pressure is required to have equal height tires and level cut side to side. After you get equal tire height, adjust the deck.

wow i like that ill try that next time i need to clean out deck