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hufhouse

Side-to-side deck leveling

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hufhouse
In a previous post, I talked about how I had maxed out the threads on my deck trying to raise the front. Tonight, I compromised and lowered the front a little to get more thread used. However, I am still having problems getting the deck level side-to-side. I noticed that the cutting edge of the blade on one side of the deck is slightly above (maybe 1/4") the rim of the deck, while the blade on the other side is slightly below (another 1/4") the rim of the deck. The deck itself is level, so (obviously) the blades are not level. I can't get enough adjustment using the threads to make up for the difference between the two sides. Also, I'm not sure how adjusting the threaded rods at the top make a real difference side-to-side. After all, it seems that the roller bar on the back of the deck would have more to do with side-to-side adjustment. If I make too big of a difference between the left and right threads up by the hanger, the pins really are hard to get into the holes and bind in there like crazy. This is a 48" deck. Are the cutting edges of the blades supposed to be even with the bottom of the deck, or is it ok that they are different? Is there any way to adjust this, besides a sledge hammer?

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Dutch
That deck sure is giving you fits. If it were mine, I'd probably take the deck off the tractor, set it up on saw horses, and check for bends in the shell, arbors, and blades using a straight edge and ruler. I'd also check for bends or binding of the linkage and joints. Then I'd make all adjustments equal. After I was certain there was no problem with the deck, I'd place the tractor on a level surface, check tire pressure and, using a ruler, check for bends in the axle or frame. If everything checks out alright there shouldn't be any reason for an uneven cut.

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hufhouse
Generally, that's what I did last night. I looked for anything loose or bent and really checked the deck over closely. I also made sure the place where the deck attaches to the tractor was not worn and was level to the ground. I guess my concern is that the blades themselves appear to be misaligned with the deck. For example, when I extend the rollers all the way, the back rim of the deck is perfectly parallel to the floor. Assuming the blades are parallel to the bottom edge of the deck, I should be ok. But, they aren't. On one side, the cutting edge of the blade is about 1/4" beyond the bottom rim of the deck. The other side is 1/4" above the bottom rim. All three blades line up with EACH OTHER where they meet, however. I guess that either the deck is bent, or the arbors aren't seated in correctly on the deck. That's just a guess, though. I'm new to all of this. I just bought the tractor used a couple of weeks ago and I really like it. Ironically, my biggest problem with my old cheap lawn tractor was the uneven cut! You know, I was just thinking, maybe the blade ARE bent. They look like they've been sharpened a few times. Maybe I should take them off and compare them to each other. If anyone knows whether the blades should be lined up with the bottom edge of the deck, let me know.

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ka9bxg
Sounds to me like someone put new bearings in the deck and did not shim them out correctly.When they are put together correctly they should be the same hight.Flip the deck over and check the arbors.Good luck.Bob

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hufhouse
Is there any kind of instructions or illustration I could get my hands on regarding shimming out the bearings? That really sounds like a possibility, because the blade on one side is definitely extending out a good 1/2" farther than the blade on the other side. It would appear that one blade is about 1/4" too far out, while the other needs to come out about 1/4". The middle blade appears to be lined up exactly even with the bottom of the deck.

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Dutch
There is also the possibility that the deck was manufactured (unlikely) or repaired (more likely) with the wrong arbor shaft (incorrect length) or assembled improperly (spacer or washer left out or installed in wrong place). A straight edge and ruler will quickly determine if that is the case.

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BillC
The last time I leveled my mower deck I removed the front hitch/bail pins and supported the front of the mower deck with a 2X4 upright. With the (2) outside blades facing fore-aft, I leveled the blades to 2-1/2" using an angle iron. Then, with the center blade facing fore-aft, I placed enough shim under the 2X4 to raise the front tip of the center blade 1/8-1/4" higher than the rear and adjusted the clevises until the pin slides through the front hitch and bails. At this point the deck is considered to be leveled. I then rechecked the height of the outside blades. Results were the patented Simplicity cut. Also, understand if you adjust the rear adjusters all the way up, you lock up the floating mechanism of the deck. My mower deck is set to cut at 2-1/2" during the summer and I start to lower it to 2" after September 1. The adjusting screws are 3/8-16, 16 threads per inch. 1/4"=4 turns, 1/2"=8 turns.

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hufhouse
All right folks, I have to dust off this topic and ask more questions. I've just spent the whole evening working on this deck and I am so completely stumped I'm ready to start shopping for a new mower deck. First of all, I can't seem to get any side-to-side movement. The height adjusting screws seem to be in cahoots with each other, so that when you raise one, the other one raises, too. Along those same lines, when I try to adjust the threaded things at the front of the deck (I can never remember what they're called), and I get them too different from each other, I can't get the pins to go through the holes. So, I can't get much side-to-side changes that way. I swear that my problem has something to do with the arbors. There's a good 1/2" difference between the left blade and the right blade when the deck is sitting perfectly level to the ground. Also, I can't find any bent parts, loose parts, missing parts, etc. Tonight, I basically lengthened the threaded arm (whatever it's called) on the low side of the deck as much as I was comfortable doing, and then left the other one as short as I could leave it and still get the pins through (using a pick ax to pull up on one side). I also tried to mess with the rollers. Even doing all of that still left me with one side about 1/4" higher than the other. Someone earlier made mention of the idea that leaving the height adjustment turnscrews at their highest setting "locked" the deck and didn't allow for the "patented Simplicity cut." Could someone elaborate on that? I don't understand. I understand how lengthening those threaded arms raises the front of the deck. However, the remainder of the height adjusting mechanisms are so tight that they only allow for up-and-down movement. There doesn't seem to be any room in the whole deck suspension for adjusting for a difference from one side to the other. Any ideas out there?

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ScottS
I have a few questions about your dilema. Are the arbors parellel to each other? Remove the deck stand it up so you can get to top and bottom easy. Measure center to center distance from each arbor. Top and bottom. should measure very close. This would tell you if the deck is warped or bent. Have you had the arbors off of the deck? Look to see if someone else had them apart and did not clean the area off where they bolt to the deck. Take the blades off to see if there are any parts put on in the wrong order from one side to the other. Does this look like your deck? ScottS

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Dadsy98
I replaced the spindle bearings this spring. I bought the new ones from a Simplicity (used to be AC) dealer. The part numbers was correct. I enjoyed a wonderful morning pounding, heating, soaking, (repeat 10 times) The arbors of course were removed from the deck. I found no evidence of shims in either the arbors or the deck. With the blades turned parallel to the axles the left blade is a bit lower than the right in respect to the housing. Shims would fix it. where would be the best place to shim? at the blade mounting ? at the deck and arbor ? or, in the arbor itself? Steve

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hufhouse
ScottS, thanks for helping. I haven't had the arbors off the deck. I will try what you said about checking whether the deck is warped. It may take a few days for me to find the time to take the deck back off again. I took the blades off last night, as well as everything else on the underside down to the arbor. Everything appeared to be in the correct order and everything was there. This brings up an interesting question, though. On one of the exploded diagrams of my deck (part #1691219), there is a washer/shim shown as the very top piece under the deck, just above a grass shield. However, that little washer/shim does NOT show up on another exploded diagram on another page. I don't have a shim, but I did notice last night that when everything is assembled, all three blades "seat" onto the arbor identically. None of the three stand proud of or sink way down onto the arbor. They all had the same clearances where the bolt threads in. That make me think that there isn't a problem with the arbors themselves. As far as your photo, my deck looks very similar except that my roller bar extends all the way out to the edge of the deck and the rollers are a little different. Actually, I configured the rollers my own way, because I bought a brand new roller bar recently and new rollers, because I was hoping to get a little more mowing height. I bought the correct bar and rollers, as well as the correct number of rollers. However, it was impossible to put the rollers on in the way the diagram said to. So, I just used a lot of washers and cut an old roller in half and made a way so that I have rollers all the way across the back of the mower. When you change the height adjustment screws in the back, is it possible to make one side higher than the other? It seems like my whole deck can only move up and down. There is no "play" to allow one side to be higher than the other. That's what is so frustrating. Even when I adjust the threaded things in the front (to the point that I can hardly get the pins back in) it seems that the deck itself still wants to stay perfectly level. Like I said before, if the deck is level, but the blades inside aren't, I'm never going to get this thing to mow right. The manual really doesn't give any information about side to side deck leveling. On the post just after yours, the description of the left blade being lower than the right is consistent with my situation. While I had the blades off last night, I sharpened them and checked them out. They aren't bent or anything. All the arbors are installed from the top like they are supposed to be. Nothing is obviously loose or bent on the deck. In fact, the deck is in really excellent condition. I know Ohio isn't the tropics, but I really can't mow at 2-1/2" in the summer, as suggested by BillC. It's only mid-June, and I'm already looking a little more yellow than my neighbors. Most folks around here mow a little above 3" (and max out their height adjusters in July and August), and I can't seem to get any more than about 2-3/4" out of this deck. And, since it isn't level, you can actually see one side of the cut is a little greener than the other side. That's real attractive. I really need to know whether the cutting edge of the blades are supposed to line up with the rim of the deck. Because my left blade sits about 1/4" below the rim of the deck, the center blade is right on the rim of the deck, and the right blade is about 1/4" above the rim of the deck. As I said, I can't seem to get the deck itself to sit anything but perfectly level, because the rollers won't allow the back of the deck to do anything BUT sit level! Therefore, there's no way for me to adjust anything side-to-side. Sorry about the long post, but I just thought I would review all the posts and respond to anything I could answer!

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ScottS
I went out and gave mine a quick look. All three of the blades are up inside the deck. The left blade is probably 1/8 inch higher than the one on the left. They all line up tip to tip. I belive the next thing I would do is to take the arbors apart on the outer sides to compare all the dimensions. I have seen where people do not start bearings on shafts straight and roll up a burr on the shaft that kind of makes things come out in the wrong place. One other thing, The deck in the picture has some spacers between the center arbor and the deck to make the blades line up. I wonder if someone rebuilt the arbors and put them on in the wrong place? (thats a wild guess on my part) ScottS

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hufhouse
I'm going to beat this decomposing horse one more time. I stopped by the dealership where I purchased my tractor and talked to the owner. He told me a couple of interesting things about this particular 48" deck. First, the blades are supposed to be somewhat offset the way that they are. The right blade sits slightly below the deck to draw in air to help create a lot of air movement to discharge the grass. He said that I'm ok as long as my blades meet in the middle, which they do. He said that the side-to-side leveling should only be done with the turnscrews on the roller bar. I can't seem to make that happen, so I'm going to have to really look at that whole mechanism to figure out why. Second, he said that you really cannot get any side-to-side adjustment on this particular deck using the adjustments in the front. He said to use those adjustments only for front-to-back leveling. Which brings up the most curious thing he told me... He said that the front blade should be slightly LOWER than the rear blades. He said that the blades are not "double-cutting" the grass this way and it creates less strain on the belts in heavy grass. This is contrary to what the manual says. My manual says, "...the rear measurement should be 1/8 to 1/4 inch less than the measurement for the center blade front tip..." This deck is part number 1691219. Anybody have any final comments? I can't promise not to ask about this topic again, but I'll really try not to!

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acjohn
I have a shallow deck on a 410S. I also have a single height adjustment on the right side. It moves the rollers together so the rear of the deck is always level side to side. My blades are 3/16 higher in the front than the rear. I can't believe any AC or Sim would be different. They all adjust about the same front to rear. I feel for you man. You've been thru $%&@ and back with thing. Oh, sorry, you aren't back yet. Keep trying, don't give up!

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BigSix
I know this was asked, but can't remember if you answered it: have you verified that the arbors are not bent, or the deck is not bent, where they mount? I'm wondering if you inverted the deck, and clamped some rods or straight dowels (2 hoseclamps per arbor) along each arbor, so you had three vertical rods off the bottom of the deck, if you could see if they are all perfectly vertical, i.e., perfectly parallel, when the deck is level, albeit upside down? (The longer length of the rod would exaggerate any deviations, making them more noticeable). Also, I can't picture the underside of the deck's sheetmetal, but if the rods were all clamped at the same point on each arbor, and were exactly the same length, any deviation in the height of their ends would indicate a sheet metal deviation as well.... When I was adjusting my "front rocker arms," I felt like the bail itself was preventing any side-to-side leveling, at least in the front. And I only have an adjuster on one side of the rear (and this is apparently correct for the #190 deck) that adjusts both side at once. You asked about how running the rear adjusters all the way up "locks out" the "floating" feature of the deck. This was exactly how my deck was set up when I got it, and (I'm not SURE about this but I believe that) it basically puts your (and the tractor's!) weight onto the rear roller--at least, when going over high spots, if not constantly. At least this was my conclusion, the reason being, that given the design of the mounting of the deck, it can't go any higher before either the bail/mount, or the tractor istelf (not sure which) won't let it rise any higher. Consequently, it is not free to "float" up and down, as it is when it's properly adjusted, i.e., rear rollers not all the way "down," so that there is space between the deck and the tractor. Also, I don't know about your machine, but when my deck was all jacked up in the back, making an admittedly higher cut, (at least in back!) the mower belt was trying to melt it's way through the rear of the bail. Adjusted properly front to rear, I have approx. 1/3" airgap b/w the belt and bail. But if I raise the deck to "transport" height, the belt rubs the bail so that I cannot mow this way. Can anyone else mow w/ the deck raised all the way up?

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Capt_Ron
I can join the club on uneven cutting with my 36" 2 blade deck. I too tried to resolve the problem by changing settings and comparing the blades relationship to the deck. I learned a few things that might help in your case and I'd like to pass them along. The blades should never be lower than the deck, period. This defeats one of the safety features and the deck is supposed to protect the blades. Blades tips that meet each other at the same height are not always level across the entire deck. The deck is designed to eject the clippings and therefore is not flat. This makes it very hard to compare the individual blades to the deck. Blades opposite the discharge chute will have less clearance to the underside of the deck. To borrow an old phrase from machinists on setting up lathes and milling machines, "They must be level with the world". So too should be the blades on your mower. Forget about the deck while checking the cutting plane of the blades. The "world" in this case can be a flat, level concrete surface with the unit set-up in the manner which you intend to mow. Lay on the floor and use a block of wood to mark the height of each blade by reaching through the discharge chute. This should be done in the fore, aft, and side positions and on both ends of each blade. Turn the blade and mark each end from the same position on the floor. You should have 8 marks for each blade. If the blade tips match at the meeting point then the marks at the opposite ends should be the same too. If not then your spindles are canted towards each other if the marks are higher in the center. More common is that the spindles cant away because of belt tension, making the center lower. The measurements fore and aft should reflect the recommended angle of adjustment. (Front low or high) Remember that as mower decks get older the steel will get thinner from the constant sandblasting of mowing. Most of the decks are made with the lightest gauge steel that will meet the design requirements and save the most in manufacturing costs. Add several years of wear and they no longer have the strength to resist the twisting and other forces placed on them. Hope this helps, Capt Ron

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