New Deere lawn tractors - built in mulching option
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Thread: New Deere lawn tractors - built in mulching option

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    RIP Chris C-Range's Avatar
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    New Deere lawn tractors - built in mulching option

    I see Deere's latest addition is a built in mulching feature on their mowing decks. With our current 6 year old X324, I have to change out various bits and pieces twice per year, mulching for the summer and leaf collection in the fall. We're thinking of updating to the new X384 to eliminate the need to access the underside of the mowing deck (lift the tractor). Basically, this new system appears keen enough that my wife could change it over by herself, which is what we need.

    Anyone have this new system? Recommend or not?

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    jgayman's Avatar
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    I have a X500 with the old style mulch kit and I never take it off. The new one has a door that you can either open manually or with an electric actuator. The only issue I see if the older kit used dedicated mulching blades and the new kits use a combo blade. The dedicated mulching blades have always worked great for me. Below are the parts for old system and the two new systems.

    Previous full time mulch kit


    Mulch Control Kit


    Electric Mulch Control Kit
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mulch_kit.jpg   mulch_control.jpg   electric_mulch.jpg  
    flyweight likes this.
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    I haven't heard much positive about the built in MOD.
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    Looking for a 3xx or 4xx restoration project (at a good price)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
    The dedicated mulching blades have always worked great for me.
    I replaced those Deere mulching blades with Gator blades a few years ago and never looked back. The Gators are maniacs. The straw that broke the camels back was when I got charged $80 to sharpen those funky Deere mulching blades! Kiss my ass!

    The Gators are great year round and I can sharpen them easily myself.
    Chris - 3720 TLB

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    Quote Originally Posted by C-Range View Post
    I replaced those Deere mulching blades with Gator blades a few years ago and never looked back. The Gators are maniacs. The straw that broke the camels back was when I got charged $80 to sharpen those funky Deere mulching blades! Kiss my ass!

    The Gators are great year round and I can sharpen them easily myself.
    I've been totally satisfied with the stock mulching blades. Even mowing 6" high damp grass I don't get any clumps or even any visible clippings. I do have to scrape stuck grass out from under the deck every now and then. I'm going on my 5th year with the mulch kit. I installed it the day after the tractor was delivered so I've never mowed with the stock blades. $80 to sharpen blades! Wow... They are a wee bit tricky to sharpen. I sharpen mine myself with an angle grinder and a flap disc. I picked up a second set of mulching blades when they were on sale and I alternate and sharpen blade sets a few times per season.

    I had the stock mulch kit on my old 175 Hydro for over 18 years and never took it off.
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    ean
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
    I've been totally satisfied with the stock mulching blades. Even mowing 6" high damp grass I don't get any clumps or even any visible clippings. I do have to scrape stuck grass out from under the deck every now and then. I'm going on my 5th year with the mulch kit. I installed it the day after the tractor was delivered so I've never mowed with the stock blades. $80 to sharpen blades! Wow... They are a wee bit tricky to sharpen. I sharpen mine myself with an angle grinder and a flap disc. I picked up a second set of mulching blades when they were on sale and I alternate and sharpen blade sets a few times per season.

    I had the stock mulch kit on my old 175 Hydro for over 18 years and never took it off.
    I've only had my x584 for just under 2 hours of mowing and I'm pretty happy with everything. I'd be interested to know more about the gator blades. Seems like something possibly worth checking out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ean View Post
    I've only had my x584 for just under 2 hours of mowing and I'm pretty happy with everything. I'd be interested to know more about the gator blades. Seems like something possibly worth checking out.
    Just to be clear, the term "Gator Blades" is used to describe blades which have an extra lift function designed into the end of the blade. Usually it looks like the end and back side of the blade has been cut and the rear edges of the blade curve upwards towards the underside of the deck. Creating under deck air lift is a big function of the gator blades and when it stands the grass up when cutting it, you get a better, more uniform cut. Also, the Gator blades are often sharpened further on the cutting edge towards the center spindle. Some even have an extra strip of hardened material on the bottom side of the blade along the cutting edge.

    Gator blades are made by many different companies. One of the leading blade manufacturers is Oregon and they make a range of blades for most of the brands and models of lawn mowers sold. Deere has their own version of "High Lift" blades, which would be their equivalent of the Gator blades. So what you are looking for are high lift blades designed for the maximum cutting and which effectively cut the lawn clippings.

    The actual cutting by the blade primarily occurs in the last 3" to 5" of the blade, the outer edge of the blade, which is where it is sharpened. Having more of the blade sharpened won't hurt anything and it does provide more of a cutting edge which can help to cut the grass. It's important to make sure to check your blades after sharpening to make sure they are balanced. There are devices you can use to do this or it can be done simply in a vice. There are video's on You Tube which will show you ways to check the balance in your lawn mower blades.

    If you do purchase any blades online or from any sources other than your Deere dealer, it's highly suggested you carefully measure the blades to make sure the blades are correct for your machine. Also make sure to measure the blades thickness at the mounting spindle as some after market blades were requiring the use of a spacer washer when the blades were installed or they couldn't be properly torqued on the spindles and you want to avoid having the blade spinning in place on the mounting spindle because it's not secured correctly.

    Also always mount the blades and confirm the clearance between the blades when spinning under the deck. As little as a 1/16th of an inch can be the difference between working as designed and the blades not clearing one another. Always confirm the blades are securely mounted and that they clear the underside of the deck and the other blades when you manually move the blades by spinning the pulleys or moving the deck belt by hand.

    Last, but not least, you would be amazed at the number of blades which are put on mowers upside down. So always carefully pay attention when installing the blades as blades installed backwards not only don't cut the grass, the high lift feature of the blades when inverted rototills the lawn and damages the grass. It's the ultimate in lawn thatching, and not something you want to do....

    So, Gator blades are really a variety of HIGH LIFT blades which are designed to create lift under the deck and to stand the grass up and cut it cleanly. You can get them from a variety of sources. I personally use the Oregon brand blades for my mower and really like their cut quality, their very minimal lawn clippings and the grass cut nice and square.

    The air flow under the deck is very important in getting the best quality cut on your lawn. This is why it's important to keep the deck underside clean and free of clumps and accumulation. When the deck is carrying all of the stuck on clumps of grass underneath, it's not able to have the best airflow to provide the highest quality cut. Plus the clumps disrupt the flow of the grass and negatively impact the clippings coming out the deck chute.

    You see some of the decks on tractors and mowers with the water hose attachment on top for "washing" the underside of the deck. I have yet to see one of these which actually cleans the deck properly (or even at all, really). There is no substitute for getting under the deck and manually scraping off all the accumulated grass and debris under the deck. I suggest people use a paint stir stick for scraping under the deck as it will remove the debris and it won't scratch the underside finish of the deck which leads to rust and other problems. The paint stir sticks for the 5 gallon buckets work the best as they are longer making it easier to reach the entire underside of the deck and the 5 gallon paint stir sticks are thicker and harder to break when used for scraping.

    Good luck with your new high lift lawn mower blades......

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