SCAG Hydro WB 48A Cutting Issues

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by styd24, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. styd24

    styd24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Here is my problem! Another cutting quality, yes stragglers!

    Some history first on my SCAG WB Hydro 48" advantage with a Kawi 17:

    Bought the mower 2nd hand. It's a 2001 bought new in 2002 by a one-man LCO for use on light yards and town cemeteries. The condition was a little rough paint wise but was sound mechanically. I ran it for about 3 months in 2010 and this year. In the spring I did take it locally for a complete tune up (fluid changes, tubes in tires, blade sharpened, couple nuisance items (choke, idle, neutral adjustment) and complete condition check through. Which I receive a "ok, nothing needed" from the SCAG Authorized service shop. Season started off good, nice to have neutral adjusted correctly finally and choke working correctly to start on first pull.

    This year as the season progressed I noticed an major change in cutting. I seemed to be leaving stragglers and it seemed to be cutting lower on one side (discharge) than the other two blades. I played with blades by repositioning them and swapping which spacers/bolts were on which spindle, etc. No change. That cut difference seem to grow more and more at each cutting. So started playing with air pressure. No dramatic change essentially still cutting one side lower.

    After much reading through the forum and archive I checked deck pitch, blades were sharpened and checked routinely along with checking air pressure in tires. Last weekend I started looking at the spindles and pulleys as suggested by many in similar threads about poor cutting on SCAGs. Belts are new as they were replaced during the spring tune up as they were slightly dry rotted and glazed (appeared to be original or at least SCAG OEM parts according to service shop). They are tensioned correctly. Also the bottom of the desk is clean and I had very little scrapping to do with it except with heavy wet grass. Deck is not plugged.

    With belts on it is tough to move the blades and there is some friction sound which I can not isolate on the deck. With the belts off that sound is not present. Pulleys have no play (up & down and side to side) and are quiet and spin freely. The spindles show no signs of play (up & down and side to side) in the them and spin without any odd sounds. The spindle on the discharge shoot spins relatively free, middle one not as free and the far left one spins with more resistance than the middle. I was going to put the belts back on and tension them appropriately and see if I can replicate the friction sound I had before.

    One item noticed while looking at spindles was the blades appear to not be level with each other showing 1/12th to 2/12th differences. That would explain the cutting pattern I am seeing (one side lower) but does not explain the amount of stragglers I do see.

    Of course I have asked some of the local guys what they would do and nobody gave me any logical courses of action. One of them said switch the spindles which does not make sense. I think I am off to the dealer for service. But I would like to have idea of what I am dealing with and what potential cost might be. But also hoping someone here might have a suggestion to save me time and money as service is far from quick around here and not looking forward to cutting a 1.65 acres of grass with a 21" mower while I wait but the quality of cut with WB kind of hints I should so something sooner than later.

    One other item, I did add a grass catcher this year. But cutting pattern is the same with or without the catcher (Rack'em Steel/Aluminum 4.3 cubic foot). I have not used the catcher since July.

    I did noticed an improvement when I change the spacer configuration but it was not close to what I would like or expect from a SCAG. Last year and start of this year cut with one spacer on the bottom, two on top. Switched recently to two on bottom, one on top. Mower currently has Oregon gator blades and tried Oregon hi lift blades earlier this year but cut was worst.

    Also if the lawn is long I am cutting twice as the left behind is way beyond just stragglers. Adding the second spacer below helped this a little. I was going to try three on the bottom but spacer are out of stock at the local dealers so waiting on them.

    Bent deck maybe?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,350

    I really don't think it needs to go to the dealer just yet. To fix being unlevel just takes time checking things out. Here is a list of things to check.
    Air pressure in tires.
    Tire diameter's the same?
    Front wheel bearings worn?
    Front yokes or support arms bent?
    Hydro wheel motors bolts tight? Mounting plate bent?
    Mower frame to deck bolts tight? These can loosen and cause isssue's by wearing the holes.
    Check spindles, blades? You already did.

    After you check all that out. Measure the frame from the floor. Side to side it should be the same. Also do the same measurement for the front and rear of the deck. This makes sure that you didn't miss anything.

    Measure the blade tips side to side on the outside blades and see if they are off? If they are then it is most likely a bent deck (top plate bent). Some say you can straighten it but others don't because of the oil canning effect.
  3. styd24

    styd24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Air pressure in tires. ....Have been identical and have let two pounds and three pounds out trying to get an even cut in past attempts to remedy. Even tried alternating air pressure changes between left front and left back, and both left side front and back (as left side is the high side) at same time. I have played with this a lot as it was the easiest solution to attempt.

    Tire diameter's the same? ....Will have to check tonight Pissed because I pulled out the tape measure last night but didn't get around to this as I was expecting a bad spindle and was more baffled as it was not (I know should be pleased).

    Front wheel bearings worn? ....checked, not worn

    Front yokes or support arms bent? not appear but will verifiy

    Hydro wheel motors bolts tight? Mounting plate bent? ....yes, not sure what mounting plate you are referring to actually...Guessing where the pumps are bolted to the frame (not bent, no cracks).

    Mower frame to deck bolts tight? These can loosen and cause isssue's by wearing the holes. ....Very tight I will have to get a breaker bar or impact wrench to remove these. Could not budge them with a socket and box wrench. Will check for any holes that might have expanded from wear & tear.
  4. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,378

    And blades not bent?
  5. styd24

    styd24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Blades are not bent. Getting the same cutting behavior on two different sets. The other blade set was brand new and lie flat.
  6. styd24

    styd24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Front tires pressure and diameter are the exact same.

    Rear tires Left side (high side cutting) is 18 pounds of air and 52 1/8 inches in diameter, right side (low side and discharge) are 22 and 51 inches in diameter.

    Front deck measurement is 1/4 inch higher on the left side between front and back measurements versus the right side.

    Will play with the tire diameter and get the same or think about new tires as one is worn a tad closer to replacement time anyways. I have some lawn I will be able to test changes out on if I get home earlier enough tomorrow.

    Didn't get to the blade measurements as the mosquitoes were out in force this evening. Reason to quit delaying making room in the garage to work.
  7. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,350

    Your tires are causing alittle under 1/4" difference right there.
  8. styd24

    styd24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Been raining in the Northeast so no time to cut anything significant to see the difference. I did cut a few strips the other night and inspected them in the AM. They look very even now but still leaving stragglers. I have some new blades coming from someone that runs SCAGS for his fleet so hopping to get a better cut with blades that I know are a good fit for my mower.

    I do have to get new tires as one now has 28 pounds of air in it versus 14 in the other to get the same running circumference. One is worn considerably.

    While running it at night without the belt cover the pulley on the short belt is sparking and is the source of my metallic noise I was hearing. With no belt on does not make a sound or rubbing. I'll add this to the repair work also.

    Thank you for the tip. Didn't realize the tires where that much out of whack size wise and I was concentrating on pressures and could have been off inch to inch and half at times in circumference.

    As for tires how hard is it to change these or should I just get a dealer to it?

    Again, Thanks!
  9. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,350

    Tires are one of those things that you can do but question youself if it is better off going to the dealer. You can buy some tire spoons and use a c clamp to break the bead. Some even use screwdrivers to get the tires off. I bought a manual tire changer from tcs that works fine and was cheap.

    The question is how much is your time worth compared to what the dealer or tire shop charges.
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  10. styd24

    styd24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Hi djagusch

    Wanted to thank you again for the advise. After new tires, few worn part replacements, real blades, additional spacers machine is cutting like I expected it to.

    Just completed my fall cleanup (really northeast snow storm cleanup). But as you can see mower is cutting great now!


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