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Preparing Your Lawn Mower for Spring

Warm weather is quickly approaching, have you done your spring lawn mower maintenance yet?  Get the most out of your equipment by conducting routine maintenance before and after each use.

Sharpen Your Blades

Cutting grass with a dull blade will take more time and effort than working with a sharp blade. A dull blade will tear and weaken the grass, which can lead to fungal growth or diseases to spread throughout the lawn. We recommend sharpening your mower blades after every 20-25 hours of use to avoid bad cut quality.

How to sharpen lawn mower blades

  1. Read the safety instructions and the procedure instructions in the unit's operator's manual.
  2. Remove the mower deck according to the instructions in the operator's manual.
  3. Remove the blades according to the instructions in the operator's manual.
  4. File or grind an equal amount of blade material from each cutting edge until sharp. Do not change angle of cutting edge or round the corner of the blade.
  5. Slide the blade onto an unthreaded bolt and hold the bolt horizontally. Position the blade horizontally and check for blade balance. This is critical. If the blade moves, sharpen the heavy end until the blade remains balanced in a horizontal position on the unthreaded bolt.
  6. When the blade is sharpened and balanced adequately, reinstall it under the mower deck and torque it to the specification listed in the operator's manual.
  7. Reinstall the mower deck.
We also recommended having a spare set of mower blades. If you notice a blade is getting dull while on the job, you can replace it with your spare and get back to work. Having sharp blades increases efficiency and time on the jobsite.

Clean Your Lawn Mower Deck

Landscaping involves working with a lot of harsh chemicals and herbicides that can deteriorate metal over time. It can also lead to a buildup of grass which will reduce equipment performance. Buildup can be prevented by removing any excess grass, leaves, or other debris that may have gotten jammed in your lawn mower’s equipment deck.
Regularly cleaning your equipment will help prevent rust and slow down general wear and tear. 

Tips for cleaning your deck:

  1. Remove the mower deck and blades as instructed in the operator's manual.
  2. Remove clumped grass from under the mower deck and wash with low-pressure water and a mild soap solution until all dirt, grass and debris is washed away from the deck.
  3. Reinstall the deck and blades according to the instructions in the manual. ‚Äč

Adjust the Lawn Mower’s Deck Pitch

Avoid scalping your lawn by adjusting the height of the mower’s deck pitch. Your mower’s deck pitch is the height difference between the front of the mower deck and the back. Forward deck pitch creates an air seal at the front of the deck when the blades are rotating. This seal limits air entry into the cutting chamber to the rear of the deck, allowing the aerodynamic design of a Gravely lawn mower deck to maximize grass lift and cut evenly. This design results in a superior cut quality and an even discharge that's less likely to clump.
For a premium quality cut, you will want to have the deck pitch between 1/8” and ½” lower at the front of the deck.
To adjust the deck pitch or your zero-turn lawn mower, you need to measure the distance between the front tip of the blade and the surface the mower is resting on. Do the same for the rear tip of the blade’s cutting edge. Repeat the measurements on either side of the mower deck. Once you have the required measurement, you can adjust the height as needed.
You can learn more about how to adjust your lawn mower’s deck pitch here.

Check Mower Belts

A simple visual check will let you know if your lawn mower’s belts need to be replaced. Look for signs of corrosion or cracking. Also, make sure the belt fits correctly. A loose fit, any twists in the belt or signs that the belt is inside out may indicate a need for replacement.
belts.JPGThese quick checks can save costly amounts in potential down time. It is also a good idea to keep extra belts in trucks so employees can easily replace any broken belts while out in the field.
Click here for a step-by-step video on how to change your mower’s belts.

Lubricate Moving Parts

Lack of lubrication can wear critical components like bearings. Aside from applying a thin layer of oil to all pivot points and pin connections on the mower, there are typically only two or three lubrication points on a Gravely mower.
  • Caster fork bearings
  • Caster wheel hubs
Locate the grease fittings on the caster fork hubs and the caster wheel hubs. Pump grease into each fitting until grease squeezes past the bearing seals at the top of the caster fork hubs and on the sides of the caster wheel hubs. Wipe away the excess grease.
If seat adjustment slots are visible on the bottom of the seat, apply a small amount of grease to the seat adjustment tracks and move the seat back and forth to spread grease along the tracks. All lubrication points for your mower can be found in the operator's manual.

Change Your Oil

Check the levels and general cleanliness of your equipment’s oil. If the oil in your lawn equipment is black or has debris, it’s time to change it out.
Easy-to-read and understandable engine oil change details are outlined in the engine manual for your unit.
  1. Stop the unit, wait for hot parts to cool and remove the engine key.
  2. Position a drain pan under the oil drain hose.
  3. Remove the drain plug and allow all oil to drain.
  4. Remove and discard oil filter and install a new filter. When installing a new filter, apply a thin layer of oil onto the oil filter gasket.
  5. Reinstall drain plug and tighten to specification.
  6. Remove cap / dipstick from engine oil fill port.
  7. Fill engine with oil of correct weight / viscosity rating and quantity.
  8. Reinstall cap / dipstick, wait a few seconds and remove. Check the oil quantity and make sure it's within the markings on the dipstick. Ensure cap is secure before attempting to start the engine.
 This is also a good time to check the air filters. Air filters can become clogged with dirt and debris which may cause your fuel to burn less efficiently. By cleaning or replacing your air filters, you will increase air circulation.

Tire Pressure

Just like a car, riding lawn mowers need to have their tire pressure checked. Healthy tire pressure increases performance and efficiency and minimizes tire wear. Flat or low tires may cause damage to the rest of your mower. A low tire level can also affect the cutting level and quality of the work. If only one tire is flat, it can cause your mower deck to be uneven and produce an uneven cut.

Replace Worn Parts

Even lawn mowers that have been perfectly maintained will need to have parts replaced at some point. If you notice large dents or tiny bends in your lawn mower blades, it’s unfortunately time to replace them. Replacing air filters can improve engine performance and spark plugs should be replaced per the manufacture’s recommendations. Replacement and maintenance parts can be sourced from your local Gravely dealer.

Paying attention to your lawn mower’s performance and doing routine checkups will let you know when parts need to be replaced.