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please help w/deck pitch for mulching

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by nick21, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. nick21

    nick21 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    Mower is a John Deere 717 ZTR with the mulch kit.

    should the pitch be different for mulching? the mower does not provide a very good cut on the first pass (right side seems to be a rough cut with some missed grass)and does not seem to have enough lift to pull up all the grass bent down by the tires.

    I hope I don't have to get a bigger mower beause of some tight areas I have. I don't remmber what the blade tip speed of this mower is but the new 757 is 18000 vs maybe 16850....will this make a big difference?

    Any help will be appreciated!
  2. ClayMcC

    ClayMcC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    I'm not familiar with your mower or mulch kit, but I've been using a 48" Exmark Metro HP walk behind with mulching kit since 1995. The engine on it is an 11 HP Kawasaki. Anyway, I think the "key" to what you're experiencing is in the words, "first pass".

    When I purchased it the salesman was straight up with me regarding the differences between mulching and side discharging. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to get that "golf course" look with a mulching kit you'll need to make two passes.

    Over the years I've dreamed of being able to mulch mow with the speed and efficiency of side discharge. When I went commercial two seasons ago (I had bought the Exmark Metro in 1995 only to do my own two acre property), I bought a 52" Exmark LazerZ with mulching kit. It has a 23 HP Kohler engine. I thought, with more horsepower and if I keep the blades sharp, I'll be able to make one pass. Not so. It's still the same old story. Sometimes I'll get lucky, but in most cases I still have to make at least two passes.

    What I have finally done is remove the mulching kit and replaced the mulching blades on the Metro walk behind with high lift blades. Now, I feel I have the best of both worlds, mulch and side discharge.

    One thing I learned early on is you have to listen to the engine when mulching. If it bogs down, and the blades are sharp, and the deck isn't clogged up with wet grass, then it is probably belt tension. The 1995 ExMark Metro HP is all belts, and there are diagrams right on the mower which show you how to make adjustments to acheive the best belt tension.
  3. themowerman

    themowerman LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 298

    Side dicharge mowers should be pitched forward 1/8" to 3/8". Mulching mowers should be pitched rearward 1/8".
  4. nick21

    nick21 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    My dealer is not familiar with that idea...but I am willing to try anything.
  5. duke & sons

    duke & sons LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    I have a 717A and 737. They are both excellent mulchers. I mulch with the 717 100% of the time. The pitch on both mowers is 1/4 inch down. Here in my rural area, most of my accounts are mowed every two weeks. I mulch 90% of my accounts. I do not use the mulch blades or gators. I use medium lift discharge blades. The med. lift blades leave a carpet cut.

    I would check my rpms if I were you. I have mine set at 3700 to 3750 with the blades turning. Thats once the engine is warmed up good.

    The 717A mulches so good, I am still amazed each day I use it.
  6. nick21

    nick21 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    Are the med loft discharge blades by deere or someone else? I would like to try the exact same blades.
    I am assuming you mean 1/4 inch lower in the front and you are getting a carpet cut on the first pass? That sounds pretty good - If this doesn't work I might rip out the mulch kit and say to hell with my flowerbeds!

    Does the 717 mulch better than the 737?
  7. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    My ferris 61" deck ztr with the gator blades leaves a small line i think right behind the front left caster 6" wide wheel when going fast in higher grass. I DONT THINK it did this with the standard high lift blades, it does it with the gators and the mulch kit OFF though, sucks.

    Anyone here NOT like the gators or still use high lift with mulch kits?
  8. duke & sons

    duke & sons LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    I buy the med lift blades from a local tool supply store. I would think you could buy the same blades from your JD dealer. The tool supply store's blade book list the blades for a 48" JD Z-Track.
    Yes the pitch is 1/4" lower in front.
    Yes the 717 does mulch better than the 737.

    Don't forget the rpms. They are always set to low from the factory.

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