The lawn mower blade is the most overlooked and undervalued part of the lawn mower, yet it's condition has the most direct effect on the quality of cut and turf health.
If your looking to help keep your lawn better looking,healthier, and also prolong the mower and blade life then consider how
you sharpen blades.
More importantly I believe there are also health benefits from correct blade sharpening and many small engine repair shops may do a good job at keeping your blades sharp but overlook balancing them. No concern to most but for anyone with RA you will see reduced vibration which means less fatigue.
The first thing to consider is don't sharpen mower blades the same manor you sharpen knives. Hopefully the reason will become clear as we continue. This is not so much sharpening a blade as it is correctly sharpening a circular cutter with two teeth (or two cutters).
For years I always sharpened my mower blades with a 4-1/2" Milwaukee grinder using a flap (sanding) wheel. I would sharpen my blades with the same thought process as sharpening a knife (get it sharp). And over time the blade tips got very rounded off.
The first issue is that the two ends of your blade do approximately 90% of all the cutting within the first inch or so from the end of the blade. This leads to more wear at the tip of the blade and is obvious as you see the blade tips wear and the tips of the blade start to round off (unless you sharpen the way you should and remove the metal all the way across the blade squaring it up each time).
That said if you have a knife edge on your mower blade and have a good squared off corner on the ends of your blade it will cut fine. However the small area on the tip of the blade becomes dull first and fast since it is a small area and is doing most of the work. This normally can start to happen within the first pass when mowing. Once the sharp edge begins to dull (round over) instead of cutting grass it's more like tearing or ripping the grass because the knife edge now has a rounded edge (more like a butter knife edge). This will be evident by brown tips showing up after you mow. Small gravel or rocks that you happen to lift up will also take a nick out of the sharp edge easier.
Next issue is as you sharpen the blade each time it becomes shorter (blades are measured diagonally) . Some mowers are worse then others depending how far they overlap each other but if you start seeing strips or ridges in the grass where you just mowed then it's possible your blades are worn out. Lets say you have three blades under your mower and you look back and see two ridges in the grass behind you.
So to make those blades last longer and sharpened less I believe that they should be sharpened similar to this photo below.
Balancing is another issue. I guess the first question is why balance a blade?
A blade that is not in balance will cause vibrations. And vibration is not good on your equipment shorting the life of spindle bearings and will add to the vibrations of the mower and also what the operator feels.
I'd like to say it's ok to just use the nail in a wall method or a cheap table top balancer but they will not give you good reliable and repeatable results. And in some cases you can do more harm then good.Of Course the blade needs to be clean before performing the balancing.
The better balancer you purchase the better job you will do making your machine operate longer with less operator fatigue. I have personal experienced this and it's important to prevent my RA from flaring up any worse than it already is.
Below is a photo of a brand new aftermarket blade for my Ferris mower. It wasn't off much but you can see by the cut I made that the original milling wasn'tconsistent. So far I have seen new blades out of balance and also bent.
Below are three more new blades (I bought asset of 12) . All three straight but all three blades were borderline severe imbalance.
I obtained a lot of good info from Mangna-Matic, a quality third generation USA business that only uses quality USA made parts.
Take a little time and watch this free webinar. He does a way better job at explaining things than I can write. I'm just learning after years of sharpening blades like a knife.
When it's time to mow or trim the last thing you need is a piece of equipment that is hard starting or won't perform its job. Here's a few tips I've learned over the years.
First off I need to let you know that I've been involved with mechanical maintenance most all of my life. I enjoy it but because of my arthitus I don't do near as much and instead take my equipment to another shop. That said I never did enjoy working on small equipment like a mower or a trimmer (it was diesels and the bigger the better). So I try to use good preventive maintenance practices to not only keep the equipment running when I need it most but also gives me peace knowing that my equipment is in reliable condition and best of all I don't need to spend money and time getting it repaired.
If you don't work on your own equipment then I advise taking it in to a shop annually. I recommend doing it during the winter months so it's ready for a summers worth of work and before the shop gets overwhelmed with work from last minute customers who need it fixed just before they want to use it. Shop owners tell me that the customers who bring their mowers in for an annual inspection/tune-up over the winter are the customers they seldom see during summer. And the ones who don't have their mowing equipment serviced annually are in their shop more frequently and generally in more of a panic mode (how soon can you fix it).
First big tip I have for you is read your owners manual. Mark it up write notes in it to refer to later on. Then take it outside to the equipment and read through it again. Getting to know your equipment can save you time and money. Don't know where your manual is right??? Ok then go look for it on line, more than likely it's on the WWW.
In the past I normally don't put enough hours on my mower to change oil more than once a year. I personally prefer to change oil every spring. My reasoning is that during the seasonal changes here in Nebraska (we have a lot of fast weather changes) I am concerned about condensation collecting through the fall, winter and early spring. So every spring I start the mower and bring it up to operating temperature then change oil and filter and grease the machine. I run hydrostat mowers and normally just check fluid level (every use) I use to clean the air filter but because that mower gets used in really dusty conditions, I just went to replacing the fuel and air filter every spring. About every three years I replace the spark plugs. And only clean the battery terminals if I see corrosion.
I don't remember the last time I removed the battery when letting the mower set over winter. I thinks it's a good idea but have had good luck just leaving it alone other than keeping an eye on the electrolyte level and corrosion
I have two sets of blades and try to keep them both ready to go at all times. There will be more on the blades in part 2 because it's another topic on its own and gets overlooked.
Tire pressure on riding lawn mowers is most important to obtain a nice level cut. I check tire pressure often using a smaller pressure gauge to has a max pressure of 30 lbs to obtain accurate readings. I also had the tire shop put the tire sealant in all four tires as an added precaution.
I perfer to blow my machine off with compressed air instead of using a garden hose to prevent rust and corrosion. But I have been known to wipe it down with a wet rag followed by a dry towel.
Although I'm not very good at doing what I say, it's important to keep your deck clean. Unfortunately in the past I mainly cleaned the deck only when sharpening the blades so that's often but not every time I mow (like I should and now do).
I do a quick visual on the belts and if I notice cracks or the belt sitting low in the groove of the pulley then I look at replacing it. I don't like running a belt to failure to advoid belt slippage and wear on the pulleys.
They say its best to drain gas and run the engine until it's out if fuel for the winter but I seldom do. Instead I run a gas additive called stable year round in my mowers. Reason year around is because come fall/winter and I could never remember what had stable in it and what didn't. Plus when I read the label on the large container that I purchase it said that it needs to be used up after opening in a certain amount of time. Last thing I want is some nasty smelling gas gone bad and messing up the fuel system. I also keep the fuel tanks full to prevent moisture from collecting in my fuel system.
This has kept my machine running when I need them most. The main thing is to do it and do it in accordance with the vendor manual. And when something little needs repaired (that you can live with it broke) get it repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise pretty soon there are so many little things that are in need of repair you'll tend to not perform maintenance on it like you did when it was new and will be mad at the shop because of the cost of what it takes to get it running correctly.
Stay tuned for part 2 mower blade maintenance, it's an exciting subject where I've have gained more information and experience with then I ever thought possible!
Sent from my iPhone
Here is some good information that came from my work EZ news that I thought I would share.
Making your home look more appealing on the outside by planting trees and other native landscaping can also improve efficiency on the inside. For best results, get local when selecting vegetation. Local experts will know which trees, shrubs or native plants will work best for your landscaping needs. Here are a few additional tips to consider this spring.
1. Plan with safety in mind. When planning your project, locate all utility lines above and below ground. Mature trees need space above for branches and below for their large root structures. Call 811 to have underground lines marked before you dig. It will help you avoid injury, service outages and costly repairs.
2. Made in the shade. Identify walls that tend to get the most sun. These will typically be the south, east and west sides of your home. By planting green leafy trees that will block the sun at its hottest, you can keep your home cooler in the summer.
3. Cut down on harsh winds. Dense evergreen trees and bushes planted on the north and northwest sides of your home can help to reduce the force of the wind on your walls and limit any air that may be leaking in. They can also provide a buffer as you head in and out of your home.
4. Less water. Less maintenance. More efficiency. Shrubs and groundcover plants protect the ground around your home and reduce heat buildup on your outside walls. But, landscaping with native plants offers even greater benefits, like:
· Less watering. Native plants are accustomed to rainfall, humidity and weather of the region.
· No fertilizer. Again, these native plants are naturally capable of thriving in the local environment.
· No pesticides. Native plants tend to attract native insects that will help keep away other insects that may pose a threat.
Living in a brick home our garage attached to the west side of the house was always extremely hot in the summer. By planting a couple different lilac bushes on the west side has greatly reduced the summertime temperature inside the garage. Someday these other two trees may provide a little more shade for our home and the driveway.
This Mother's Day weekend I planted a small pine tree. It was given to my wife (a second grade teacher) when she took her class on a field trip to Nebraska City to the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure.
Right or wrong I always plant and trim so the branches don't interfere with the mowing. also consider leaves getting into your gutters.
Mother's day is fast approaching and you might be concerned about finding that right gift. I highly recommend buying her a new Farris lawn mower! 😉
Ok so maybe not every mother is into lawn mowers like I am and they would rather be showered with hugs, kisses, cards and flowers.
With all the rain in the past weeks and now the warm sunshine, the grass (and weeds) will be growing fast. Maybe this year for Mother's Day (or in addition to what you already have lined up) you will be out making the lawn look nice for her.
If you're doing the lawn care for Mother's Day then take care to stay hydrated, wear a hat and don't forget the sun screen. Ensure you have a pair of safety glasses on and have your earplugs in, wearing jeans and boots when operating a trimmer. Your mother (or maybe wife) doesn't need or want you injured on this special day.
If you don't already know the history on Mother's Day (here in the United State then I would encourage you to do a quick internet search and find out how it was intended to be. Especially anyone still looking for that special gift.
Wishing all moms a Happy Mother's Day!
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