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Deeper Decks VS Shallower Decks.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by davidcalhoun, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. davidcalhoun

    davidcalhoun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,022

    There seems to be a trend that most manufacturers are designing deeper decks, so I thought we could review some thoughts/questions about both designs.

    It appears that the mid-mount manufactures are designing deeper decks to:

    1) Create more lift. Is this needed because of the added weight placed on the larger caster wheels? Or does this added lift also allow the mower to go faster while still giving an acceptable cut?

    2) Help with mulching. Does the deeper deck provide more space for the mulching to effectively take place?

    3) Does a deeper deck require more horsepower to run? It seems as though there is also a trend where mid-mount manufacturers are putting lager engines on their units. Is more horsepower the answer?

    Now for a comparison. Which type of deck works best for side discharging, bagging, or mulching? I always read where Walker owners are saying their shallower decks do everthing just as well.
  2. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812

  3. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    Deck design is a science, not rocket science, but science nevertheless.

    Turn 5 manufacturers' decks upside down and see the differences: in particular, notice the shapes of the baffles and the width of the discharge portions of the deck.

    When I started I bought a cheap John Deere lawn tractor, which gave a good cut. A year later I bought my first Zero turn, a '96 Grasshopper. I had a lot more problems with chunks and clumps being discharged instead of a nice even flow of well scattered clippings. Partly because of this, I began bagging a lot more lawns, and continued to use the John Deere on some lawns, even though it ran a lot slower. The slower speed was compensated by less need for double cutting to disperse clippings.

    Then I bought a 2001 Grasshopper, and there was a world of difference in the performance when discharging. The baffles in the deck were considerably different. I copied a couple of the changes when repairing a couple of broken or bent baffles in the old Grasshopper deck, and visibly improved its performance when discharging.

    There is another thread started by Tacoma about the poor performance of a new Hustler Z on certain lawns. I do not know if Hustler deck design is improved over a few years ago, but I can tell you I have a Hustler 37" w/b, that is about 5 years old, and its cut SUCKS. Even Meg-Mo's did not help (sorry, Roy)

    Sooner or later I will modify the Hustler baffles and see if I can get some improvement, but for now the machine just sits at home most of the time.

    It is obvious to me that some manufacturers' designers are just not getting it right. Personally, I think an extra deep deck does not really help. There are other features that make a lot more difference.

    The lesson here is, before you buy ANY mower, insist on being allowed to demo it on some of the lawns you are currently maintaining.
  4. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,964

    Turbulence seems to be a factor to me, at least when side discharging.
    I personally believe the deep deck design of the fabricated mowers helps. Disharge chute width, proper choice of blades and baffles (if used) are very important in the equation.
    I've got enough experience now that I can tell exactly what my mower is going to do in just about all conditions.
    I was at the shop the other day and a guy brought in a fixed deck 48" Bob-Cat wb for blade sharpening and a couple of other things. When the blades were taken off, I bet everyone listening that his deck was clogged up.
    Yep! 3 gator blades came off and with heavy morning dew the deck was clogged up big time.
    Also, I've been following that hustler deck thread and I'm at a total loss what that problem is. Hustler should take that mower back and analyze the reasons it cuts poorly.
  5. mike lane lawn care

    mike lane lawn care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,707

    I have a fairly deep deck on the simplicty, handles higher amounts of gras before clumping. but last years JD at home depot had deck that were incredibly shallow, i couldn't see how they could give even a decent cut. also a deper deck can handle rougher terrain that a shallow deck, there is more room for an obstical to go into the deck before damaging it.IMO
  6. prostriper

    prostriper LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 336

    Yep gotta agree there. Although i heard that dixie came out with a new deck design. Haven't heard much about it yet.
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    A shallower deck gives a better cut but doesn't remove the cuttings very well in heavy cutting conditions.
    A deeper deck gives a bit less of a cut but removes cutting more efficiently for higher production.

    The trivantage (exmark, 5" depth) was the manicured urban lot deck, with the ultracut (exmark, 5.5" depth)being the more wide open higher production deck with a high quality of cut as well for it's purposes.

    The Triton deck by exmark with it's 6" depth would be great for cutting pastures.........it will remove cuttings at a very efficient rate, however the quality of cut isn't there.
    Each deck depth has its uses, it depends on what your needs are.
  8. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812

    I'll have to look into this --- thank you:)

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