Simple Maintenance and Performance Tips

Wednesday, 06 September 2017 | Local Dealer Expert
Posted in Garden Trader Blog, Garden Trader, Buying guide

Simple Maintenance and Performance Tips

ASSEMBLY  

Rotary Mowers  

Always make sure all nuts and bolts are in place and properly tightened especially in the area where the handles are fixed to the cutter deck plus handle joints where applicable. 

Always make sure wheels are fixed properly to the wheel brackets.  

Cables should always be tied to the handles of a rotary mower to stop them being caught in trees, bushes, fences or any other obstacle.  The grass collector should fit snugly to the machine providing it has been assembled properly.  

The grass collector should fit snugly to the machine providing it has been assembled properly.  

Make sure the correct quantity of oil is put in the engine (too much or not enough oil can result in damage to the engine; never use old used oil), then put fuel in the fuel tank making sure it is fresh fuel (stale fuel can result in damage to the carburettor and non starting). 

Ride on Mowers and Tractors  

It is always recommended that Ride ons and Tractors are assembled and pre delivery inspected by the supplying dealer who should then deliver the machine offering full operating instructions on the customer's property.      

FUEL MIX 2 Stroke  

When using a two stroke engine it is extremely important to check the correct oil to fuel ratio for your machine and use the recommended  mix of oil and petrol. As an alternative there is a ready mix fuel now available through most specialist garden machinery dealers.  

FUEL 4 Stroke  

If you are using normal unleaded fuel from a petrol pump it is worth noting that the quality is sub standard for use with small portable engines used in garden machinery of any make or type. NEVER leave pump fuel in your fuel tank or storage container for more than six weeks as it is prone to going stale; this will invariably cause poor or non starting problems and could result in expensive recovery work. As a safe alternative there is a long life fuel (storable up to 5 years) now available through most specialist garden machinery dealers.    

ENGINE OIL CHECK  

Four stroke engines have an oil sump; it is always important to check the oil level before using your machine and change the oil as per the manufacturers recommendations.        

ENGINE (PETROL) NOT STARTING  

Check list.

1.Check there is fuel in the tank

2. Is the fuel fresh or has it been left in the tank for more than six weeks? If so drain the fuel tank, try new fuel. If this does not work speak to your local dealer.  

Check the spark plug.

1. Is the gap too wide? If so adjust it, then check for a spark by putting the plug back on the lead, then hold against a metal surface on the engine, pull the starter rope to turn the engine and a spark should flash at the end of the plug.

2. Is the element burnt out? If so, change the spark plug.

3. Is it gummed up through fuel flooding? If so, clean it using a small wire brush and cloth then heat it up using an open flame making sure you are a distance from the fuel tank or container or any inflammable substance.    

BEST PERFORMANCE TIPS  

Rotary Mowers (Walk Behind, Ride on Mowers and Tractors)  

Grass Collection 

All rotary type

All rotary type lawnmowers work based on vacuum i.e. the air is drawn in through the front of the cutter deck by the speed of the wing tips on the cutter blade/s that create the suction and vacuum which forces the grass into the grass collector.  

Poor vacuum equals poor or non collection; this can be because the cutter blade wing tips have worn; check your blade against a new one at your local dealer.  

To obtain the best collection it is advisable to clean the underside of the cutter deck regularly to make sure the air flow is not impeded by grass cuttings that have stuck to the underside of the deck resulting in poor air flow. On petrol rotary mowers never turn the machine on to the air filter side as this will result in the oil from the engine flowing into the filter which will result in the engine not starting.  

Best Cutting  

Poor cutting performance; this can be because the cutter blade is blunt through wear and tear. NEVER try to sharpen a blade without specialist help as the blade can easily go out of balance and could cause damage to the engine through excessive vibration which could also result in the blade coming loose from it's fixing and projecting from the machine which could result in injury to the operator or passer by.   In the case of Ride ons or Tractors poor cutting performance can also be as a result of worn or slack deck drive belts; check the belt for the correct tension providing there is a tensioning system fitted, if this does not work remove the  belt and check for wear and tear and length.    

For rotary mowers blade speed driven by the engine is instrumental in creating the required vacuum to obtain the best cut and collect performance. If yours is a petrol engine make sure your engine is running at the required speed as per the manufacturers instructions. Most mains electric or battery driven motors are fixed speed therefore cannot be adjusted.  

For Ride ons or Tractors blade speed driven by the engine and cutter deck drive belt is instrumental in creating the required vacuum to obtain the best cut and collect performance. Make sure your engine is running at the required speed as per the manufacturers instructions.  

Level of Cut (uneven cut problem on Walk Behind, Ride on Mowers and Tractors)  

On  4 wheel rotary mowers always make sure all four wheels are touching the ground whilst in motion; if this is not possible the wheel brackets may be damaged or twisted or the wheels are buckled or the cutter deck could be twisted.  

With a rear roller mower the two front wheels must be sitting level on the ground; if this is not possible the wheel brackets may be damaged or twisted or the wheels are buckled.  Providing the front wheels are level and the cut is still not level the rear roller could be out of line or the cutter deck may be twisted, in both cases consult your local specialist dealer.  

Ride ons and Tractor cutter decks are usually suspended on hangers underneath the chassis of the machine and are normally adjustable; always check to see how the brackets are fixed to the chassis and cutter deck as the fixings may have come loose and require tightening before any adjustments are made to the hangers.  

Tyre pressures are crucial to the level of cut on riders and tractors; to get the most accurate tyre pressure always allow all of the air out of each tyre until totally flat and then pump them up to the manufacturers recommended pressure for the best level of cut and comfort of ride. 

SAFETY CHECK LIST  

Rotary Mowers  

Older steel deck rotary mowers are prone to rust and holes can emerge in the cutter deck which will result in poor performance; NEVER use a mower in this condition as it is DANGEROUS to the point stones and debris can be thrown towards the operator or passers by. Depending on the age of the machine cutter decks can be replaced.  

Older aluminium deck rotary mowers are prone to cracking and can result in parts of the deck splintering off acting as a projectile threatening danger to the operator or passers by.

NEVER use a mower in this condition. Depending on the age of the machine cutter decks can be replaced.  

NEVER use a mower if the wheels are not stable; apart from probable damage to the lawn, if a wheel comes off it is possible it can slip under the cutter deck and if the blade/s are in motion can cause all sorts of damage to the mower and be dangerous to the operator or passer by.  

NEVER use a mower if the handles are loose and unstable. Loose handles can result in the loss of control of the machine which could be dangerous to the operator or passer by.  

Always check the area to be cut for stones, tree stumps and any other objects likely to cause damage to your machine. Hitting a solid object can result in a bent crankshaft which would deem the machine inoperable and unsafe to continue using.

SAFETY CHECK LIST  

Ride ons and Tractors  

Older steel cutter decks are prone to rust and holes can emerge in the cutter deck which will result in poor performance; NEVER use a machine in this condition as it is DANGEROUS to the point stones and debris can be thrown towards the operator or passers by. Depending on the age of the machine cutter decks can be replaced.  

NEVER use a Ride on or Tractor if the steering is loose to the point it is difficult to control the direction of travel; the steering linkage and gear should be checked at the first sign of slackness and repairs should be carried out immediately.  

NEVER use a Ride on or Tractor if tyres are soft; this could result in uneven cutting levels; if working on undulating ground this could result in snapping an axle and if working on slopes could cause the machine to topple over.  

NEVER use a Ride on or Tractor if the drivers seat is loose; this could result in the driver losing control of and falling from the machine.  

NEVER use a Ride on or Tractor if the safety switches are not functioning;  

1. check the clutch pedal starting switch (the engine should not start until the clutch pedal is  depressed before turning the ignition key),  

2. the reverse operation cut out switch (the machine should not be able to cut in reverse unless an over rider switch is fitted),  

3. seat switch (when the operator leaves the seat the engine and cutter blades, if engaged, should stop)  

4. grass collector switch (when the grass collector is removed the blades and engine should stop) 

5. collector chute switch (when the chute is removed the cutter blades and engine should stop).

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