electric or manual blade clutch


LawnSite Fanatic
If you get over the initial belt stretch problem, manuals are simple and effective. However, the newer style electric clutches that are out have a design advantage that allows for belt stretch not affecting clutch engagement. I think that a properly trained operator should have no problems with either.

Whats on my next (real soon) mower?...Electric.



LawnSite Silver Member
i agree.... though my z master has an electric clutch i never understood the advantage... i know one disadvantage is that they dont last all that long and have more to go wrong with them. Too me pushing a lever to engage the blades on a manual clutch is no more difficult than pulling a nob on a electric.... whats the catch....?


LawnSite Fanatic
I've seen guys, at full throttle, switch on, then off, then on, then off, then on, then off the pto switch on an Exmark Lazer just to supposedly unclog a deck of grass. Were talking 3600+rpm's! These are the employee's to AVOID.

Evan, the manual has at least: One more pivot (grease) point., More adjustment needed, One or Two more idler pulley's and bearings, and a lot of linkage to wear out over time. Add all that up and I'll just pay to replace an electric every 2000 hrs.



LawnSite Member
After seeing, hearing and first hand exp. with a Cub Cadet electric pto with problems. I will personnally never buy another piece of equipmennt with an electric pto if I can help it. Manual pto's are simple mechanics with usually inexpensive parts. Electric pto's are simple mechanisms that are usually very expensive to replace.

Eric ELM

Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
Chicago, IL USA
Manual is the best in my opinion. I've got that on my Choppers and have had no problems with any of the 4 Choppers I've owned. You can ease the clutch engagement and start the blades at an idle, which is a lot easier on everything on the mower. I've had both. Electric is nothing but problems in my opinion.


LawnSite Bronze Member
With a manual engagement, you have to adjust thru-out the life of the belt.

You don't have a constant-tension idler apply just the right amount of tension from the time the belt is new until the belt is worn out.

With manual engagement, you risk over-tensioning and stretching the belt or under-tensioning and having it flap around.

Plus to stop a manual clutch, you have to put a brake on a pulley or belt itself, either of which are another wear point.

Belt life is significantly increased in theory.

Plus you have less likages to grease, adjust, bend.

I've owned both. Manuals are nothing but problems in my opinion.


LawnSite Senior Member
southern ohio
Electric is much better on design and wearability especially on walk behinds.
Eric: The design on a dixie is a whole lot better than any
other machine. That's probably the only mower I
would have manual.

Any time you take a belt and stretch it and relax over and over it is a terrible thing. Not to mention the linkage and pivoting that will begin to wear quickly, then you will have problems engaging the blades or getting them to disengage without tearing up the belt. I have 2 hydro 61's sitting in the barn because of this and they are only a year old. We have never had an electric clutch go bad. Everyone is affraid of the wiring and relays etc., but it's really not so bad to maintain.
If you get electric, don't engage at full throttle, it's hard on the clutch and the motor.


LawnSite Silver Member
not having owned a mower with an electric pto I can't say which I prefer. I can say that I don't have any real complaints about the design of my manual unit.

I would think that belts stretch either on manual or electric pto drives. If belts don't stretch on electric pto drives that is certainly news to me. I would personally think that a belt that has tension all the time would stretch more than a belt that has tension only a part of time. IE: a belt that is disengaged belt has no tension at all. I do adjust belts from time to time as a matter of routine maintainance.

Originally posted by Lazer

Plus to stop a manual clutch, you have to put a brake on a pulley or belt itself, either of which are another wear point.
laser--can you explain this in a little more detail? the manual units that I am familiar with do not apply a brake to the pulleys when disengaged.