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1026R 1025R 1023E 1 series mower setup and adjustment (pre mid-2020)

284133 Views 382 Replies 137 Participants Last post by  Michael Clark
It seems a few owners haven't gotten their new 1 series tractors equipped with either the 54 or 60D mower setup correctly. This will explain how to do it yourself for the best possible mower performance! ;) Most, if not all, of this information can be found in the John Deere Owner's Manuals for the mower and the tractor. 馃摋 The procedure is the same for the 54" and 60" decks, mechanical or independent lift. There is one additional step for mechanical lift-equipped tractors. More on that later...

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First, you're going to need a few tools. A 1 1/8" wrench, a tape measure, or better yet the JD mower leveling gauge p/n AM130907. The tractor needs to be parked on a smooth and level surface for all of these adjustments.


-This step is for mechanical lift-equipped tractors only- To adjust MMM rockshaft lift strap (located between 3PH rockshaft and MMM rockshaft behind the left rear wheel) you remove the mower and remove the hairpin clips and pins (D) to disconnect the lift links (E) from both lift arms. Raise the 3PH fully. Rotate the mower cut height knob to lock position. Remove the left rear wheel. (You might be able to skip this if you can reach the 3 bolts on the lifting strap.) Loosen the three bolts on the lift strap. Rotate mid-mount rockshaft (B) forward until there is a small gap (A) between the height cam (C) and mid-mount rockshaft (B). Move the lift strap forward to the end of the travel slot and tighten the three bolts. (I'd use 1/16" to 1/8" for a goal for this gap.) Reinstall the left rear wheel and mower.

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First, you want to adjust the side lift links (E) for maximum lift. To do this you'll want to start the tractor and raise the mower all the way. Rotate the mower height adjustment knob to the lock position. Now, look at the mower height cam (C) above the left rear mower latch. It's just behind the left rear tire. You want to see a gap at "A". I've found that a gap of about 1/8" is perfect.

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To get this gap set right you first need to unlock all anti-scalp wheels, turn the mower height adjustment knob to the "install" position, and then lower the deck to the ground. Then remove the hairpin clips and pins (D) and adjust both links (E) up equally. Now you need to raise the mower fully and check for the gap (A) between the height cam (C) and the rock shaft arm (B). Repeat this process until you get close to 1/8".

Here is the gap on my tractor. The next picture shows the mower resting on the height cam "lock" position.

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Now we are going to adjust side to side level. Set your mower height adjustment knob to your desired mowing height and lower your mower. Measure your blade height and adjust the same side links to achieve a level within 1/8" to 1/4". I was able to achieve the same measurement on both sides. I usually mow at 3" and marked the scale accordingly.

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After you've set the level side to side, recheck your maximum height setting. Here is my tractor at full travel, mower resting on the lock position, and install position.

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To adjust the front to rear level we'll need your mower at your desired mowing height. Measure a blade from the front and at the rear. It doesn't matter which blade. The optimal setting is 1/8" to 1/4" front lower than the rear. This reduces friction on the rear of the blades and makes the front of the blade do all of the cutting and discharging. The front draft arms will adjust front to rear leveling. First, lower the deck to the install position and loosen the rear draft arm nuts with the 1 1/8" wrench. (The nuts closest to the mower.) It may help to drive the tractor off of the mower just to loosen the rear nuts. Raise the mower back to the desired mowing height. Tighten the front nuts the same amount (it helps to count flats) to raise the front of the deck. Loosening lowers the front of the deck. Double-check your front to rear level once you got the draft arm adjustment nuts tight.

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The Auto-Connect carrier bearing needs to be adjusted for easy connection as well. If you remove the mower it will be easier. Lower the mower/mower lift arms all the way to the install position. There is an adjustment bolt under the bearing to adjust between perpendicular to the ground to leaning ever so slightly forward. I found this makes for the best connection. (I was unable to find anything from JD regarding this adjustment. If you know differently, please post it so this can be corrected)

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Lastly, you need to adjust your gauge wheels for the proper mowing height. In my case, the pin goes into the top hole. That gives about 3/8" clearance between the wheels and the ground.

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Now it's time to go mow your yard and enjoy your tractor! (y)
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You need to adjust the turnbuckles on each side to level the deck with its weight resting on the height setting cam just as it would be while you're mowing. You cannot level it with the 3 point lift holding the weight because it rests differently on that. As you noticed, the right side comes up higher than the left when the weight is on the 3 point mechanical lift mechanism. This is normal but I do not know why.

I just spent quite a bit of time fanagling around with mine to meet my OCD requirements an I am finally happy with it.
  • With the three point fully raised, the deck lift mechanism sucks the deck up all the way to frame.
  • I had to remove the rearmost of the three bolts on the sliding bar connecting the lift mechanism to the rockshaft to get enough lift height for that.
  • With the cut height knob on 4, the blades are actually at 4" leveled on both sides. This is the top notch of the little cam.
  • The numbers and the cam do not correspond to inches well beyond the one you calibrate it for. So 3 is actually a little under 3" and 2 is more like 1.5". You can mess around adjusting the turnbuckles to make whatever number you want be dead one if you feel so motivated. I cut high so I calibrated it high.
  • With the deck on the ground (install position), you need a hair of a gap between the front draft arm and the hooks on the bumper. This allows the hear draft arms to fully engage and lock in when you drive into it. If you make the front draft arms tight on the ground, you will never it to lock/unlock reliably.
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Without creating another post about this. Can anyone give me any trick to leveling your deck if you don鈥檛 have a level floor? I have thought about maybe using some sort of laser and use it to mark the ground/wall and level the deck one side at a time but if anyone knows a better trick that will be much appreciated.

As long as you're on a flat floor that's the same on both sides, the actual angle of the floor is irrelevant since you're measuring to the floor.
There's actually numerous reasons for the nose down pitch. Cutting once, reducing pointless drag, not slamming the flat end of the blade into the grass, the back moving air and rechopping, etc. Most of these reasons have a corresponding negative side effect with the deck level or pitched nose up.

The geometry of the draft arms and lift links make this nose down pitch be a thing by default when everything is adjusted properly. In order to make the deck pitch level, you'd end up with other dis functionalities in the auto connect and lift.
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OK, so I got my deck adjusted level this weekend when NOT using the height adjust knob, but instead just using the position control on the 1025R and the rubber stop. There is about an inch of height delta introduced when using the height control knob, so for now I'm just using it to 'stow' the mower linkage when the MMM is disconnected. It stays side-to-side level throughout it's whole range of motion when just using the position control.

Is there some reason I can't just use position control to set deck height? It worked great for the mowing I did this weekend, but figured I'd follow up and confirm this isn't putting undue stress on the tractor.
What you've found is indeed normal. The way the lift mechanism "rests" on the deck height stop is different than when being held mechanism that actually lifts it up. This is pretty common way people bungle up their mower level setting. I'm not aware of any reason you should not do what you're doing. The primary reason not to that I'm aware of is if you actually have something else on the three point that needs a different height. If you don't have that issue, it's probably fine. Just remember if you do decide to use the deck height knob, it will not be level.
Mine did too until I got the blades level and got the anti scalp wheels adjusted to 3/8鈥 (or less) above a flat surface (Driveway)
Yes this. All your ugly butchered lawn problems will be solved by these two things. Dealers rarely actually set these things up really properly as far as leveling goes.
The only issue now is ease of disconnecting the deck from the tractor. Hookup is flawless, but on disconnect, it looks like the drag link pulls the deck too far forward preventing the rear hookup of the deck from being all the way forward in the rear slots to allow the spring loaded lock rod from being dropped. Could the drag link be pulling the deck too far forward to get a clean release in the rear?
Yes that is the problem. There needs to be a very very slight gap, like a penny width will do, between the front draft arms and the front hooks when the mower deck is all the way down on the ground and you are driving forward into the auto connect. The rear draft arms need to be able to go fully forward into the hooks on the deck. If the front draft arms are hooking too soon because it's too tight, the rear draft arms will never get all the way into those hooks and you have exactly what your experiencing right now.

First thing to try is actually just give the tractor a little nudge forward and lock the brake so that it can't nudge back when you let off the forward pedal. If you're able to connect to begin with, this will probably solve the problem disconnecting. That little nudge forward is just enough to open up that little gap. If you think about it, that's exactly what's happening when you connect. You are nudging all the way forward allowing everything to engage properly.
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You only need a hair of a gap. Just enough that you can wiggle or spin that bar. And remember that spring is pulling on it, so pull the horizontal bar out with your hand to see the real gap while you're adjusting the nuts. That screwed me all up for a long time until I realized what was happening.

Also make sure you have done the nudge maneuver with the front arm loosened out first to make sure the rear draft arms are fully seated, before setting that little hair of a gap on the front draft arms.

Once you have the front draft arms with that little hair of a gap and even on both sides, the next step is adjusting the turnbuckles on the back. As you've noticed, you will have to bring those turnbuckles down a bit to compensate for whatever hair you're about to let out of the front draft arms.

This picture is notch 4 (highest) on the deck height knob. 3-7/8 front, 4-1/8 back. As perfectly level as ever and the 1/4" front rake also about perfect. I struggled with cut quality until I actually spent the time to set all this as described. Combined with the gauge wheels being as close to the ground as possible, which is all the way down since I cut high, my cut quality is absolutely beautiful now. It used to look like a hack job.

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Well that crookedness of the front draft arm is what I was fighting too. The side to side level would change depending on the height or not unlock. Very frustrating. But I finally realized the spring pulls one side of the it tight, making it LOOK like it's tight on that side but it isn't. Pull forward on the bar (or unhook the spring) to make sure it's for real lined up. Once I did that, both side of the front draft arm had equal thread beyond the nuts. It was driving me nuts until I realized what was going on.

I have a keyboard in front of me now so this will be easier than voice typing.

  1. Loosen the front draft arms so there is plenty of wiggle room first
  2. Nudge maneuver to make sure the rear hooks are all the way forward and lock the brake so it doesn't un-nudge.
  3. Adjust the nuts on the front draft arm so they are even with just a hair of gap with the front hooks. Pull forward on the cross bar, because the spring makes it uneven if you don't!
  4. Raise deck all the way up, and lower fully to one of the height adjustment stops. Measure levelness (or lack thereof)
  5. Proceed adjusting rear turnbuckles to get even left/right and the back 1/4" higher than the front (rake).
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I have everything leveled and now I need to adjust the auto-connect carrier, will this adjustment allow the entire carrier to move forward? See my attached photo. I need about a half inch to be able to lock the deck in place. (without going back to adjust the draft arms because I have those where I want the front of the deck to be)
I hate to break it to you but you're not done leveling. o_O

You have the front draft arms WAY too tight if that is happening. You need too loosen the front draft arm horizontal bar all the way forward so it's out of the way. Drive the tractor forward until the rear arms (pictured there) are all the way forward against the hooks tight. Basically, nudge forward gently until you're pushing the deck by the back arms, and lock the brake so it doesn't roll back. Now you can redo the front draft arms, leaving just a hair between the horizontal arm and hooks. The front horizontal bar should be a hair loose from the hooks, not touching or tight. You will need to pull the arm forward with your hand due to the spring. Adjust the nuts to lock the bar into that place evenly on both sides.

Now you can level the deck again and everything will be fine :)
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With the front positioned correctly and evenly, you can now adjust the rear turnbuckles for side-to-side and front-to-back leveling. The back of the deck should be about 1/4" higher than the front. If your three point lift is not raising the deck high enough to totally clear the knob cam, you probably need to take some slack out of the linkage behind the left rear tire. Two bars with slots connect the three point lift to the deck lift mechanism. Loosen the three bolts and adjust to take out some slack.
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So how are we supposed to adjust front to back after we have adjusted the lift strap for max height and the front mount bolts for gap...if we are to use the front mount bolts to adjust forward to back pitch? I spent hours a few weekends ago adjusting my deck to max height and got pitch as close as I could, and had a gap at the front of the deck but when I went to mount and un mount the deck this weekend I cant latch or unlatch the deck without extreme effort. I know the solution for that is to loosen the front mount bolts, but then that will throw off the forward pitch of my deck correct?

Also I read somewhere on this forum that deere considers the deck at max height on the up and down lever as a height adjustment, is that the case or is max height at the top notch on the cam?
Achieving maximum lift height, as in sucking the deck up as far the mechanical linkage will allow, is not actually practical. As you've noticed, it's possible to lift that deck up into your crotch if you adjust things for that. But then nothing else will work or align properly. The arms will not be low enough to latch/unlatch, which will make you go completely insane. And you won't get the pitch right either. You're lifting the deck higher than it is designed to be lifted.

  1. Start with the deck flat on the ground. Wheels up, deck resting on flat level ground.

  2. Loosen the front draft arms so it's not in the way of setting the rear first.

  3. Set the rear draft arms so there is bit of slack when latched to the deck. This is needed to freely latch/unlatch, and to prevent you from going totally insane.

  4. Give the tractor a nudge forward so the rear draft arms are slammed forward in the deck hooks and set the brake before letting off the forward pedal. Check to make sure the draft arms are indeed slammed all the way forward in the rear hooks before proceeding. If you don't do this, you will go completely insane later.

  5. Now tighten the front draft arms so there is just ~ 1/8" bit of a gab in the tractor's front hooks. You don't need a huge gap. Just enough that you can notice and jiggle it. This tiny gap is critical. If you make it tight, the thing will never latch in the back because the front will be dragging it away. The gap allows the back to latch first.

  6. Raise the deck up and set the knob to the highest setting. Lower the deck down to rest on the cam stop.

  7. Check for left/right and front/back level. It should be fairly close. You will probably need to tweak the turnbuckles on the rear draft arms a 1/2 turn at a time to work it out. Of course you need to lower it all the way down to the ground to make those adjustments. It's an annoying dance.

  8. Once you're level at the highest setting, check again at a lower height setting. It should be pretty close to level if everything is symmetrical. If it isn't, something is crooked. Honestly if you cut at the same height all the time, set it to be level at that height and don't screw with it anywhere else.

  9. Enjoy your nice level deck that comes on and off easily without going completely insane.
Don't forget to lower the gauge wheels do the pin as low as you can go without actually rolling on the ground when on flat level ground at your set cutting height.
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