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olddude

Adjusting a mowing deck

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I have a 520H wheelhorse and I have always had problems adjusting cut height. It always seems to want to cut to low no matter how I adjust it. I can raise it up with the hydraulics but then none of the rollers hit the ground and the deck moves side to side and up and so much the cut is uneven most of the times. I would like to have it set so you can drop the hydraulics and the two deck wheels on the sides at the rear of the deck hold it up in the back and the hydraulics or what ever is supposed to level it in the front and hold it there to get the correct height. What holds, or what is supposed to hold the front of the deck up so that it doesn't dig in?

 

I have spent thousands of dollars planting grass and getting it to grow then chop it down so low it kicks the bucket then the weeds take over.

 

I just spent 2 days rebuilding the deck where it finally wore out in a couple places from the sand blasting action that takes place when you are cutting in not so good conditions. I have almost a mile of driveway that is more rocks than grass and with the deck cutting so low all the time it catches h@ll in those areas. I also use it in the woods a couple times a year keeping the under brush and tall grassy stuff from taking over. I use my old 1956 Gravely walk behind to chop up the heavier stuff and once I clean out a spot and cut it with the Gravely a couple times I then can get in there with the 520H and keep it down from there.

 

It has a 1996 deck on it and I believe it is a 300 series with a PN 78360. Everything looks to be in place and nothing looks bent under there. I just had it out and looked real good at all the parts to see if anything was bent. There is a little play in the 4 carraige bolts that attach the deck to the two draft bars because all of those bushings came out in pieces when I took everything apart. I looked up the parts and want to order these bushings and a few other parts for the deck because cutting season is already here and once I get behind it's hard to get caught back up.

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How tall are you wanting to cut it. with the deck wheels adjusted all the way up it should cut at a little over 3 inches?

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I put larger diameter wheels on the back of mine. It cuts an inch higher now.

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You should be able to get a higher cut.  Are you trying to let the front wheels touch the ground?  If so - that wouldn't be correct.  At the back of the deck - centered is a jack screw/bolt.  Set the deck height for the rear wheels at it's highest position on the deck, drop your hydro lift all the way down and crank the jack screw one way or the other until the front of the deck comes up to level.  From there, set the front center blade via the jack screw such that it is about 1/8 inch lower than the back of the same blade.  You should get a nice tall cut.  If you want to go higher, experiment with taller rear wheels.

 

My yard is lumpy and has some slope.  If I set the deck at the highest setting like I've described above, my 48 inch deck on my 520H will absolutely not scalp.  Drop it down one notch on the deck wheel height adjustment on the deck and I get scalping.

 

You got a great tractor and a great mowing machine.

 

Good luck,

Bill

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Bill is 100% correct in how to properly adjust your deck for mowing. I mow using my decks at the highest setting and use the screw/bolt to level out the deck. I just recently found that the blade should lean 1/8" lower than the rear so I need to make that adjustment. With the setting that Bill described you should get a little over a  3" cut which is quite healthy for your grass!

 

At this point in PA I am mowing every four days in order to keep the grass healthy, and like you I have done some lawn "restoration" with new grass seed. Let us know if you fix your height problem or if you have any more questions!

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Studied, years ago, agronomy at Penn State.

Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass off at one time. Hurts the grass growth and builds up too much thatch in the lawn. Don't we think, "Riding mower, more seat time?" Mow frequently but, keep in mind some areas suffer compaction. From time to time I spread sand which helps loosen the soil and does not alter the pH of the soil.

Check and adjust pH. Unfortunately a slow process. Overseed in the fall. :smile:

I believe the mower deck should be 1/8" lower in the front than the rear.

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I have a 48" deck and adjusted it by the manual and that helped somewhat , but i knew it should cut better than what it did.

 

I tried taller rubber gauge wheels and still no help. I finally bought all new Toro wheels , rubber and the plastic wheels , and that made all the difference in the world.  I could lower it another notch and still get a better cut than when it was two notches higher. The plastic wheels were worn very thin , especially the front wheel and the two back wheels. The deck rides on those all the time when it is down. And there was hardly any "tread" showing on the rubber wheels.

 

I found the best price i could as a package for all the wheels and new shoulder bolts and was about to buy them , but i printed the page and took it to my Toro dealer and i said i would buy them here if you would match the price , but he said i will sell them cheaper !! He happened to have them in stock , so i didn't have to wait on them.

 

I would check out all your deck wheels and replace them. IMO , the new wheels are the best thing to do for these free floating decks.

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Throwing  in my 2 cents here, since I have had similar problems which I traced to a sprung (damaged deck).

 

1.  The front (plastic) wheels should almost never wear out.  They are not suppoed to touch the ground.  There should be about 3/8 inch gap underneath them when the deck is in the down position.

2.  The rear wheels do wear out about every two seasons (for me).  Stens wheels are identical to Toro and much less money.

3.  Your mower needs to be leveled (front to back and side to side if there is this adjustment).  DO this on a a hard level surface (like a garage or paved drive).  As others have said, the front should be 1/8 inch lower.  The height gauge needs to be at mid cut height when doing this.

4.  To properly check level, you have to measure from the bottom of the blade to the ground with the outer blades facing east to west (for side to side leveling) and north-south for front to back leveling.  Always measure the same side of the blade as they may get bent during use.  It is virtually impossible to measure the height while the deck is in the down position.  The absolute value is not important, it is the relative value at all positions at all positions that is what you want.  I made gauge blocks out of a 2x4.  I cut them at 2 3/8, 2 1/2, 2 5/8 and 2 3/4 height.  Mark them with the height and then all you have to do is find the best one and slide it under the baldes when they are in the north-south and east-west positions.  The gauge blocks become a go-no go measurement device and 1/8 inch is plenty accurate enough.

 

Finally, make sure your baldes are on the correct way and they are sharp.  The bent part (which gives the lift) should be closest to the mower shell.  I actually put mine on upside once.  Yes, they will cut but it is raggy as hell!

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You should be able to get a higher cut.  Are you trying to let the front wheels touch the ground?  If so - that wouldn't be correct.  At the back of the deck - centered is a jack screw/bolt.  Set the deck height for the rear wheels at it's highest position on the deck, drop your hydro lift all the way down and crank the jack screw one way or the other until the front of the deck comes up to level.  From there, set the front center blade via the jack screw such that it is about 1/8 inch lower than the back of the same blade.  You should get a nice tall cut.  If you want to go higher, experiment with taller rear wheels.

 

My yard is lumpy and has some slope.  If I set the deck at the highest setting like I've described above, my 48 inch deck on my 520H will absolutely not scalp.  Drop it down one notch on the deck wheel height adjustment on the deck and I get scalping.

 

You got a great tractor and a great mowing machine.

 

Good luck,

Bill

 

You should be able to get a higher cut.  Are you trying to let the front wheels touch the ground?  If so - that wouldn't be correct.  At the back of the deck - centered is a jack screw/bolt.  Set the deck height for the rear wheels at it's highest position on the deck, drop your hydro lift all the way down and crank the jack screw one way or the other until the front of the deck comes up to level.  From there, set the front center blade via the jack screw such that it is about 1/8 inch lower than the back of the same blade.  You should get a nice tall cut.  If you want to go higher, experiment with taller rear wheels.

 

My yard is lumpy and has some slope.  If I set the deck at the highest setting like I've described above, my 48 inch deck on my 520H will absolutely not scalp.  Drop it down one notch on the deck wheel height adjustment on the deck and I get scalping.

 

You got a great tractor and a great mowing machine.

 

Good luck,

Bill

Thanks, I've done that several times but I never thought the height adjustment lever was that critical with just one knotch making that much difference. I think too that I have the wrong lift rod on the deck. I lost the original one in the woods one day and I made a makeshift one to get me by until I could get a new one. I ordered one and it was too big to fit in the holes it was supposed to fit in. I took it back and they said it should work but they reordered another one to see if it was packaged wrong. The next one came and it was the same as the one they ordered the first time. They didn't want to take the old one back because they said I ordered it and I would have to pay 30% restocking charge if I wanted to return it. I said hey! You looked the part up not me, it's not my fault you looked up the wrong part. Finally the boss came over and told the parts guy to give him his money back and then he turned to me and said the next time I came in for parts I should bring in all serial numbers fof what I needed parts for because it's their policy to not take back any parts unless all these numbers are available.

 

I stood there with a baffeled look on my face and said I bought the machine from here and paid $125.00 for your supreme service garantee which meant all those numbers are on file when you bring up my account on those fancy computers in the service and parts department, that I can never get your parts man to ever use. But just for the record All those numbers are right here on the card I made up  that the parts man is holding in his hand along with the wrong part he ordered. Everybody stood there for a second or too like blinded deer in bright headlights then all the new owner of the store finally uttered.... well you got your money back so what else do you want? I said nothing, that's all I need, thank you.

 

I went home and looked it up on the internet and ordered one from and online store and dang if I didn't get the same part as the other guy tried to sell me. I went back up to the store I bought the tractor from to apoligize to the parts guy, not that I said anything out of the way to him but to let him know he had ordered what was supposed to be the right part but something had changed and either the number was wrong in the parts lookup or that part has been somehow mispackaged at the factory. I was trying to be nice about it and told him this happened all the time at the boat shop I and all you need to do is call Toro and let them know about it and they will research it and get the numbers straight.

 

He looked me straight in the eye and said what the hell do you know about the lawn mower parts business? I looked him straight in the eye and said, well nothing I guess and turned around and walked out and never have gone back. Normally I would have raised a little fuss just to let them know I was there but since I started carring my side arm I try to keep the pizzing matches to the bear minimum just to keep some situations from getting out of hand. Before I left though I walked to the back fence where they had several new tractors waiting to be picked up. they were all 520's with the same decks and all of those lift rods were about half the dia. and also had a longer threaded area on the pin. I started to go back in to point this out but decided to let them find it out on their own.

 

I got the same treatment from the guy on the internet so I just made the hole where the rod attached to the deck larger to accept the larger pin and threaded some more threads on to the new pins to get enough adjustment. At that time it was woods cleanup time and I wasn't too worried about a nice level cut because when I'm cutting this stuff I run the deck as high as I can anyway. Before this I never thought about why the mower always cut so low and figured it was just the way these things cut and was probably why the first owner traded it in, in the first place because the deck had never been set up properly to begin with.

 

Anyway sorry for the long winded rant. Can you do me a favor and measure the lift rod you have on your deck, dia, length, and the length of the threaded part. Also if you would be so kind to measure the length of  thread stick out on your properly adjusted lift rod so I can either make a new rod or find the correct one somewhere and have a basic start point to go by. I know this measurment wont be exact but I can at least use it as a refference. Thank you all who have offered up help.

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Rant coming... ;)

 

I'm sure there are some GREAT dealers out there - but I feel your pain with the owners and parts guy.  One of the things I especially like about these old iron tractors, like Wheelhorse or IH Cub Cadet, is there is a TON of support AND good will towards the folks like us.  You can browse a website and no one is offended if you look 1,000 times and don't buy anything.  The dealers around me act like it's a problem if you are in the store and aren't quickly shelling out the cash for something and out the door.  Again, in my neck of the woods, it is often the dealers don't know the part number you need, are not familiar with what you are buying (even new) and could care less.  They act like they are doing you a favor just having the front door open.  No wonder people buy the box store mowers and put them at the curb when the break.  I can't say as I blame them.

 

I'm not pasting all dealers and when anyone finds a good dealer, I'd say stick with them like a tick on a dog's back.

 

Sorry to take the topic off topic - LOL

 

Good luck with your tractor.

 

Off my  :soapbox:

 

Bill

 

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Rant coming... ;)

 

I'm sure there are some GREAT dealers out there - but I feel your pain with the owners and parts guy.  One of the things I especially like about these old iron tractors, like Wheelhorse or IH Cub Cadet, is there is a TON of support AND good will towards the folks like us.  You can browse a website and no one is offended if you look 1,000 times and don't buy anything.  The dealers around me act like it's a problem if you are in the store and aren't quickly shelling out the cash for something and out the door.  Again, in my neck of the woods, it is often the dealers don't know the part number you need, are not familiar with what you are buying (even new) and could care less.  They act like they are doing you a favor just having the front door open.  No wonder people buy the box store mowers and put them at the curb when the break.  I can't say as I blame them.

 

I'm not pasting all dealers and when anyone finds a good dealer, I'd say stick with them like a tick on a dog's back.

 

Sorry to take the topic off topic - LOL

 

Good luck with your tractor.

 

Off my  :soapbox:

 

Bill

Yeah the guy that owned this store was a good guy and really did like to give good service. I know you will never please 100% of the customers that walk through the door but I would think with times like they are right now some of these people would at least act like they are a service company. The new owner took over and kept all the old employees and if you walk into the store you would thing it was the same old store but as soon as you talk to the first person in the place you can tell this is not the same ol store. You are pretty cool as long as you keep the hunnard dollard bills flowing but ask a question or some help with a problem you came to the wrong place. I guess this is the results of the way todays get rich quick society and the way people have changed over the past few years where work has become a dirty word.

 

No problem with the off topic thingy, when I start a thread it's like a hash of things. Like a big stew, you never know what might get thrown in and as long as it still looks like stew in the end, it's all good. Now, back to the problem at hand......do you have a ruler? :ychain:

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Throwing  in my 2 cents here, since I have had similar problems which I traced to a sprung (damaged deck).

 

1.  The front (plastic) wheels should almost never wear out.  They are not suppoed to touch the ground.  There should be about 3/8 inch gap underneath them when the deck is in the down position.

2.  The rear wheels do wear out about every two seasons (for me).  Stens wheels are identical to Toro and much less money.

3.  Your mower needs to be leveled (front to back and side to side if there is this adjustment).  DO this on a a hard level surface (like a garage or paved drive).  As others have said, the front should be 1/8 inch lower.  The height gauge needs to be at mid cut height when doing this.

4.  To properly check level, you have to measure from the bottom of the blade to the ground with the outer blades facing east to west (for side to side leveling) and north-south for front to back leveling.  Always measure the same side of the blade as they may get bent during use.  It is virtually impossible to measure the height while the deck is in the down position.  The absolute value is not important, it is the relative value at all positions at all positions that is what you want.  I made gauge blocks out of a 2x4.  I cut them at 2 3/8, 2 1/2, 2 5/8 and 2 3/4 height.  Mark them with the height and then all you have to do is find the best one and slide it under the baldes when they are in the north-south and east-west positions.  The gauge blocks become a go-no go measurement device and 1/8 inch is plenty accurate enough.

 

Finally, make sure your baldes are on the correct way and they are sharp.  The bent part (which gives the lift) should be closest to the mower shell.  I actually put mine on upside once.  Yes, they will cut but it is raggy as hell!

What was actually sprung, bent or out of place? I have been wondering if there may be something bent on this deck or in the lift part of the tractor that might be causing the problem. Like I said this deck has never cut right from the start so I don't have anything to go by as a gauge as to what to go by or where to start. When you let the hydraulic lever all the way down should the draft bars on the deck and the adjustment lever on the deck control how far the deck drops or is that all controlled by the hydraulics? No matter how I adjust this deck the front still drops all the way to the ground when you lower the hydraulic lever all the way.

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I figured I would post up an update on what's going on with my deck raising project. I think I have just about got it all figured out. I think the main problem all along was the lift adjusting rod on the back of the deck. The replacement rod that I bought is just plain the wrong rod for this deck regardless of what the parts guy said, It just doesn't have enough threads.

 

I added about another inch of threads and that seems to have done the trick. Well that, along with replacing the shoulder bolts on the main deck wheels along with the 4 bushings in the draft bars. I made them on my little lathe just to see if this would help and when it was done and along with the adjusting pin the deck now sits high enough to not scalp my weeds.LOL Thanks to everyone that offered help.

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I put on new front wheels but not the back and now I see my front wheels are digging in.  It sounds like I should also replace the back wheels and probably adjust the jack screw.  I also noticed the deck seems to tilt a little to the right hand side.  Besides using the jack screw what other adjustments are there for left/right?  I have a 520 xi with a 48 inch deck.

 

 

Edited by mdtoro

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I am on the same page with the OP here. Where is this adjustment screw/bolt that levels (or in this case, gives you the 1/8inch slope you need)??  I can seem to identify is.

 

I too have a 520H with a 78360 deck

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I managed to find the adjustment rod, but it seems pretty bent.  I thought it was a straight rod. there's a couple of bends in it.  DO these adjustment rods have bends from the factory?

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2 hours ago, porschpow said:

I managed to find the adjustment rod, but it seems pretty bent.  I thought it was a straight rod. there's a couple of bends in it.  DO these adjustment rods have bends from the factory?

I don't think so, it should be straight with a 90 degree bend on one end and threads on the other. That is....if we are talking about the same deck. This is an old thread and when I first started trying to figure out what was wrong with this deck I went through hell trying to get it to cut right. My original pin that was on the tractor, part # 19 was smaller in dia than the new one I got for a replacement. The new pin was around 3/8" ??? (I haven't looked at it for awhile) and the original one was around 5/16" and was threaded longer than the new one. I remember now the new pin wouldn't even fit through the hole on the leveling rod so I had to enlarge the hole so the pin would fit. 

 

What size in dia. is your pin, how long is it and how long are the threads cut on the adjustment end?

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So this is what I found in the shed.  it is a 5/16'' diameter about 6-9 inches long (hard to measure with bends).

 

I don't think its supposed to have the bends, am I right?

20170524_065910.jpg

20170524_065940.jpg

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I'm glad this old thread was resurrected. I've never been quite happy with the adjustment on my 42" sd (78345). If I adjust the nut with the height lever in the middle position to get the 1/8-1/4" f/r difference I can't physically move the height lever to the rear two holes (higher). If I back off just enough where I can get the lever in the rear hole the blades are too low in the front. With this new yard I've determined that I want the lever one position back from center so I adjusted the nut to properly set the blades in that position. Sure enough, It won't go to the rear hole now. :scratchead:

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2 hours ago, porschpow said:

So this is what I found in the shed.  it is a 5/16'' diameter about 6-9 inches long (hard to measure with bends).

 

I don't think its supposed to have the bends, am I right?

20170524_065910.jpg

20170524_065940.jpg

Nawh.....She be bent. It should be straight. That's the same pin I had on mine originally and it would be interesting to find out what one you will get if you reorder it. Hopefully they have figured out that which one to send you. If not you may have to re-drill the hole in the leveler bar for the larger pin size and possibly add some more threads on the other end to get enough adjustment. You could try to straightening it out but I doubt it will stay that way long.

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That looks better.

 

As long as the trunnion is free to slide up and down the shaft and the threads are in good shape you are golden.

 

I usually install a new nyloc nut if there is any doubt as to the holding ability of the old one (you don't want it backing off by itself).

 

I also put a flat washer between the nut and trunnion just to make adjustment easier and save wear on parts.

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