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larry8200

Mower deck maintenance rants.

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larry8200
Hi, I would like to share my thoughts on some mower deck maintenance issues and see what you all think. I'm specifucally referring to the 48" deck for the large frame tractors, but others will be similar.


First: According to Simplicity, The arbors should get 2-3 pumps of grease a year. Over greasing can result in grease entering the belt space and cause slippage. On the newer ones, with the short arbor and offset blades, they say you can also split the arbor over greasing it. Well, having been blissfully ignorant of that for my first 30 years of Simplicity operation, I always pumped grease into the (obviously) hollow arbor until I heard the grease "popping" through the top bearing, sometimes 20 or more pumps. While I have to pick some clotted grease from under the pulley's at the end of year serviceing, my decks have always been very quiet and have never had a bad bearing. I helped my Dad service his 18 HP 2000 Sovereign in April, and the deck really rumbled. I pumped grease into the arbors until it came through the top bearing, pushing water out ahead of it the whole time. The deck quieted down just fine though and is doing fine. 2 years ago, I got a "new" deck foe my 3416H from a 79? 7016, that would have been perfect but the top bearings were bone dry and one had to be replaced. My greasing schem has kept it all nice and quiet since. After 35 years, I'm not about to follow Simplicity on this. What do YOU think. This is a post from the club, I'd rather have the seals pushing into the bearings than have bad bearings: "When you reassemble it put a walnut or golf ball sized gob of grease in each arbor and put silicone between the halves and your bearings will last 3 times as long. I got in an argument with the factory regarding the grease fittings in the arbors. I said it was just a marketing ploy and with sealed bearings it made no difference. They disagreed and argued their case. Over the years they won and I had to admit defeat. The grease does nothing to lube the bearings, but it settles to the bottom of the arbor and when water gets through the seam on the arbor, it keeps it from rusting the OUTSIDE of the bearing and rusting under the seal and then getting into the bearing and causing premature failure. I had to surrender; They put this amount of grease in them new now. The grease fittinngs are immaterial, and if someone goes overboard and greases and greases the arbors will fill up and then the grease will be forced out between the halves and bend them also will push the seals into the balls in the bearings. We tell people to grease them about 3 pumps once a year." Member has decades as a Simplicity dealer. I wonder how many of Simplicities Engineers have field experience, and how many have been doing 4 season maintenance with the same Simplicity tractor for 35 years. I will say this, when Simplicity re-worked the deck after stretching the Sovereign in the 80's it was not a improvement. Second: I lot of people have told me you shouldn't grease the rollers, they are better off dry. I dribble a little 90 wt gear oil on the rod from time to time. Thoughts? Third: The screws that hold the belt covers on.... On my "New" deck the threads are perfect. Before remooving them I wire brush the threads sticking through the bottom of the deck and spray oil on them. Before replacing them I I clean the bolts with a wire brush in my drill press, and put a dab of axle grease in the hole... OCD... I think it's worth the extra 15-20 minutes. Fourth: Sharpening blades. File? NOT. Does anyone know what the steel in these blades is? I use a right angle grinder, and then a belt sander to take the bur off the bottom, Super sharp in record time, but I sometimes worry I might be getting them hot enought to affect their temper. They need sharpening 3+ times a year OCD again. Last: Hole in the belt covers the shaft goes through: This is where most of the crap that accumulates in the belt compartment comes from. Been thinkig about a nylon bushing split in half, or maybe even duct tape to increase the size of the shaft to make the opening smaller. Thoughts Read this all? Thanks!

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cwm1276
I just put new bearings in my 48 deck for my 7117. They are the sealed arbors no way to grease them. I wish I would have seen Al's tip of some grease even in the sealed style arbors. I hope the sealant I put around at the seam of the top and bottom halves of hte arbor keep water or much air out.

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larry8200
quote:
Originally posted by cwm1276
I just put new bearings in my 48 deck for my 7117. They are the sealed arbors no way to grease them. I wish I would have seen Al's tip of some grease even in the sealed style arbors. I hope the sealant I put around at the seam of the top and bottom halves of hte arbor keep water or much air out.
No grease fittings at all?

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larry8200
Another thought, if the arbors are full of grease, you know they aren't filled with water!. Careful not to get metal chips inside, I'd install zerks and keep them filled with grease. sm01

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dentwizz
When I rebuild my arbors I take the inner seal off the cartridges to open the whole area to greasability. I found one like that some years ago and copy it when I can. It works pretty well, though it takes a gob to fill it the first time. My dad just had a set of stock fully sealed cartridges go out inside of 2 years due to junk grease. He even had to replace the shaft because the inner race had stopped and was spinning a groove in the shaft itself. When we reinstalled that one we found the stock bearings and replacement shaft were too loose fit! To compensate he knurled the shaft ever so slightly before installing, just enough to keep it interference fit.

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larry8200
quote:
Originally posted by dentwizz
When I rebuild my arbors I take the inner seal off the cartridges to open the whole area to greasability. I found one like that some years ago and copy it when I can. It works pretty well, though it takes a gob to fill it the first time. My dad just had a set of stock fully sealed cartridges go out inside of 2 years due to junk grease. He even had to replace the shaft because the inner race had stopped and was spinning a groove in the shaft itself. When we reinstalled that one we found the stock bearings and replacement shaft were too loose fit! To compensate he knurled the shaft ever so slightly before installing, just enough to keep it interference fit.
I replaced my original deck on my 74 3416H 2 years ago, rust, from not keeping the belt compartment cleaned out. The original arbors and bearings were still fine, though. In fact 2 of those arbors are on the rebuilt deck above. Progress eh?

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larry8200
Wisdom... A sealed bearing will outlast a greasable bearing that doesn't get greased, but a good greasable bearing that get's proper maintenance, will last and last and last.... Too bad I didn't know that 25 years ago....

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larry8200
quote:
Originally posted by cwm1276
quote:
Originally posted by larry8200 No grease fittings at all?
That is correct.
Put some in, grease gun dont got pressure gonna hurt em, water will though. And... if water is getting in, the grease is not going to build any pressure.

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cwm1276
I'm not going to take the 2 apart that I did, they lasted rather long the first go around! The third one I will squirt some grease in the bottom half when I put the bearings in it. With the gasket sealer at the split of the two halfs I doubt much water will get there, it could only be humidity changes over a number of years. I stll have the top deck covers on and it is stored in the garage so the deck is not out in the weather.

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lumpy
WELL..... according to my manual for my 42 inch deck #1691218, it uses the two piece arbors that you apply gasket former when assembling and it says ........ fill arbor with multipurpose grease after gasket former has cured. does not say a few pumps it clearly says to fill arbors. this is straight from the attachment manual/parts manual from Simplicity. lumpy

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larry8200
quote:
Originally posted by lumpy
WELL..... according to my manual for my 42 inch deck #1691218, it uses the two piece arbors that you apply gasket former when assembling and it says ........ fill arbor with multipurpose grease after gasket former has cured. does not say a few pumps it clearly says to fill arbors. this is straight from the attachment manual/parts manual from Simplicity. lumpy
Hi, how do you fill them after the gasket has sealed, and what do you do with a deck that has never been apart, do you ddismantle them every year to grease them ? the deck I'm talking about though, (and pictured) are the ones made before 1980

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lumpy
My two piece arbors also have zerks , ya just pump it in. Just saying that this Simplicity manual says to fill the arbors, that was at least one of your points of contention and my manual from the factory says to fill them. I would be happy to send it to you if you want or you can download this manual at Simplicity mfg. Model # is 1691218

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larry8200
quote:
Originally posted by lumpy
My two piece arbors also have zerks , ya just pump it in. Just saying that this Simplicity manual says to fill the arbors, that was at least one of your points of contention and my manual from the factory says to fill them. I would be happy to send it to you if you want or you can download this manual at Simplicity mfg. Model # is 1691218
I dont doulbt it, but most say t-3 pumps/year and that's not enough. And it bothers me that a LOT of top bearings fail when serviced "By the book" and it'sot neccasary, especially when I consider these to be some of the best decks ever built.

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fmtm
From what an old fellow who was a mechanic during the days when cars had greasable joints everywhere on them comes this little bit of wisdom.......grease never wears out but it does get contaminated with foreign particles and microscopic metal shavings from the metal itself. Pumping fresh grease into the bearing till the old flows out helps to remove the junk that accumulates between greasings, so actually you are cleaning along with lubricating.

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MikeES
A lot of the conventional wisdom has changed about bearings and lubrication. We have changed our maintenance procedures at work this last 2 years and have reduced the number of bearing failures by 75%! We now replace whenever possible an open bearing with sealed bearings and remove and seal off the zerk opening. Bearings that we still grease are greased only to replace the grease that has been volatilized by temperature. This is usually no more than a 1/4 pump every 3 months. All zerks are capped! All grease gun nozzles are capped! Many bearings are ruined by pushing contaminants into the bearing with the grease gun. We use nothing but synthetic, food grade grease. More than half of our applications are in machines that get completely wash down with chemicals and high pressure hot water every 24 hours (food plant). Too much grease blows out the seals (either bearing seal or shaft seal), the oozing grease attracts contaminants, and water now gets into blown seal even though it is covered with grease. I pump the arbor full on the old one piece arbors and I remove the inner seal of the bearings (but I now only give em 1 pump per year). I have one split arbor deck (and it gets the most use) I rebuilt it 3 years ago with sealed bearings and NO grease fittings (it did not have any). So far, so good.

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larry8200
What to do... With my deck at least, with all the bearings over 30 years old, going to keep up as I have. I ilke the idea of sealed bearings, but I've had a lot of problems with them. Both front spindle bearings on my Windstar failed before 80,000 miles. Both were bone dry and the obvious cause of failure was lack of grease. The rear spindles followed shortly after, and none of them were cheap. The sealed tie rod ends failed as well. About half of the electric motors on machines in my shop have sealed bearings that rumble when they're cold, and with out high hours either. I once had a 69 Ford Econoline 150 van I bought used with 150K on it, and I put another 200k on it, greasing it every other month and never replaced any of the bearings or joints on it. I can see where sealed bearings in food processing equipment getting washed with high pressure hot water would be great, but for now I'm remaining a believer of greasable bearings.

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Willy
I put grease zerks in all my arbors and pump them full. I replaced the bearing in one deck abuut 10 years ago or so it's the one I use the most and I pulled the inside seals out, I pump them full of grease. I use wheel bearing grease on them and give them a pump when I sharpen the blades. There still spinning along just fine.

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larry8200
quote:
Originally posted by Willy
I put grease zerts in all my arbors and pump them full. I replaced the bearing in one deck abuut 10 years ago or so it's the one I use the most and I pulled the inside seals out, I pump them full of grease. I use wheel bearing grease on them and give them a pump when I sharpen the blades. There still spinning along just fine.
You get my vote!!!

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mroman59
I have a Simplicity 7117H with 42 inch deck, which I purchased used. I replaced one bearing that went bad. I was going to purchase new arbor but the Simplicity mechanic said my arbor was good shape. My arbors do not have any grease fittings, however the one that the mechanic showed me had a grease fitting. I noticed immediately and asked him why? He said I dont know why they put those in, the bearings are sealed and there is no reason to have them. The design of the arbor allow for water to drain out if it got in. I have six bearings I bought off of ebay for future repair. Can some one advise me to weather I should purchase new arbors, put in zerk fittings in existing arbors, if the mechanic says there is no need? Thanks, Mike

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MysTiK
My approach is like Larry's. The full meal deal w pull the covers and clean the crud out. Keep that cleaned at least once a year. I would Zerk the housings if they don't have already. I do fill fill fill them until they gush - just like Larry said. I had to buy a used deck, it was ugly, still is, but the blades, after an initial click, from being outside for 2 years, turned free with no lateral play. I filled those empty housings with approx 75 shots of grease gun - until they gushed - do this with the covers OFF so you can see or hear it when it finally gushes. My mission was to fill em up to delete the possibility of water. And if there is water, it's going to be lost in that ton of grease - so I think anyway. All 3 spindles took 75 shots of grease from my typical cartridge grease gun - your gun might vary somewhat before gush happens. I pumped 60 times before I started looking for gush - 75 shots consistently. And they gush from the bolts that hold the upper and lower housings together - i.e. the gasket sealed joint - but the bolts are part of that joint - and the gush happens at the bolts cos it's the shortest path out, least resistance. That means the escape route for the grease, is also greased - effectively sealed by grease. Be sure to clean up the gush ball so it can't find the belts, etc. causing slippage. This wrecky old deck is problem free. so far.... sm01 I also, similar to Larry, replaced the screws on the covers cos they were rotted to the point where they were too hard to even bother with. I just went to the hardware and got some clean screws. done. and new screws add some nice "sparkle" to the exterior. Could even paint them as an "accent". sm01 I also lucked out with new blades on this deck. Re sharpening - I'm not like Larry. I don't believe that a razor sharp blade is good. I think that the razor edge will wear away in about 5 minutes. If you buy brand new blades, they have a well formed strong edge - not something you can shave with. In fact, that's the picture - put a razor blade on your deck, and see how long it takes to break it. A strong edge lasts longer - touching up the strong edge is what I do - and I also use an angle grinder like Larry - it's gets very controllable with practice. sm01 Do a deck leveling - and do some smooth striping. Front yokes adjust lower when turned clockwise, higher when turned counterclock. Took a long time to find that info - thx to RayS. Yokes are for front to rear "rake", or angle, so the front is some 1/4" higher than rear. read your manual on leveling - that's the missing info usually. sm01 I agree with Larry that these spindles should last a long time - unless you hit something really nasty that stops them dead at full speed. sm01 Happy greasing. Fill em up. sealed or otherwise. I don't believe seals will prevent grease penetration. that's another topic. Peace. Nice to see an old thread on this. dOd edit = I forgot to mention - When cleaning under the covers, once or twice a year, while the covers are off, add grease again - for some reason (maybe settling, maybe escaping?) there is room to add a few shots of grease periodically even tho they were apparently filled to the point of gushing. I just make them gush again - might take only 3 shots (haha - the "recommended") or it might take more than that - just watch for the gush, and clean that up. My other deck (Simp Pacer) takes about 21 shots once a month. I don't know where it goes. But that's what usually happens. out.

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