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

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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.

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-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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Ok, I spent some time adjusting deck for the season.
2019 1025r 60" deck.

What is exactly the downside of not having the gap between the height adjuster and the stop?
I tried to adjust the strap (3 bolts) but I was not able to get the gap without flipping the slide and the highest I can lift the deck is 3.75 setting on the knob.
Is it worth scraping my knuckles to try again to get to the "lock" position which is not even labeled as such on 2019 model?

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On my 1026R, I found that there is no height adjustment cam gap with the lift lever up and the fel installed. After removing the fel, there was plenty of gap on the height cam and I could easily turn the height knob. If you can鈥檛 turn the knob, take off the fel and try again. I don鈥檛 plan to mow with the fel installed anyway. The added weight of the fel on the tractor would definitely change the leveling of the deck when turning, going over bumps or anything that affects the level of the tractor. Not to mention the deck leveling was done with the fel off the tractor. Since this is not a rough cut mower, I expect to have an even, smooth lawn after mowing. Those less fussy about their lawn may not care.
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I would think so. In my case, it appeared to have something to do with the fel installed. In your case, something else? Take a look at post #259 on the previous page regarding lift arm adjustment link. This could be why my cam is touching with the fel attached.
I鈥檓 waiting for someone more experienced to comment. I tend to agree that the leveling is just off. Let鈥檚 see what other responses you get first.
Great feedback guys. I鈥檓 happy with my leveling, but you gave me more things to work with the next time around and this should definitely answer the original questions. Thanks.
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You are aware that front to rear are not supposed to be perfectly level? Front should be lower than the rear. Being first contact going forward, it does the initial cutting. The rear of the deck lifts the cut grass and grinds it up. It鈥檚 described in your MMM manual.
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Aggressor,

Just measured mine and it鈥檚 1/4鈥 lower on the front of the center blade versus the front of the outers. Interestingly the same difference in height front to rear. Not much you can do about it other than leveling front to rear, but that鈥檚 a no no. The front is supposed to do the cutting and the rear grinds the grass up into finer clippings. Seeing that 1/4鈥 difference would be pretty challenging.
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Responding to both posts above.

Turnbuckles are not typically adjusted at their maximum extension when the leveling is successful. They are also very easy to adjust with the deck removed and impossible with the deck installed due to clearance issues. To do mine, I backed the tractor up onto the deck to disconnect and was able to make all adjustments without driving all the way off the deck.

The height adjust gap needs to be set for an attached deck. Lengthening the turnbuckles appears to increase the gap somewhat, but reduces your maximum mowing height. Shortening the turnbuckles will not increase the gap. The biggest affect on more gap is by shortening the rockshaft lift strap (see picture in post #293 above). On my 2012 1026R with the 60D deck, I had to remove the third and rearmost lock bolt on the strap to allow me to shorten the strap enough to get a 1/8" gap at the lock point setting of the height dial. With this lift strap adjustment, about 1/2 of the rear lock bolt hole was overlapped by the strap. The remaining two lock bolts are holding the strap adjustment due to the relatively high torque used to tighten them. Not all tractors require this much strap shortening to get an adequate height adjust gap. I would suggest making it as short as possible and see what that does.

Final adjustments. My turnbuckles have roughly 1/4" of threads showing on the left side and 3/8" showing on the right side. My front to rear height adjustment is identical on both sides with 1" of threads showing. I backed the nuts out until they were flush with the end of the threads, them turned them both in exactly the same number of turns. This makes sense, because all you're doing is raising or lowering the front. Having a different adjustment between the two sides would introduce a twist effect throwing side to side adjustments off. My deck wheels height are set just touching the concrete floor with the deck in the mowing position. I tried 1/4" below the bottom of the deck, but got uneven cuts when making turns regardless of forward speed. I typically mow at maximum height over mild hilly terrain or substantial bumps. On most flatter sections, I mow two clicks down from max height. On the top ridge of my septic berm, I mow with the three point lever in the up position to avoid scalping.

From what I've read on this site, there are variations of successful adjustments from tractor to tractor, so my settings may not work for you, but they work for me with great results. There are no shortcuts. If leveling is off, spending a half day following the complete setup on page 1 is highly recommended. Not only will it prove successful, but will also give you a clear understanding of exactly what each adjustment does.
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Hawkeye,

The gap you're referring to is on the bottom of the height stepper cam that is controlled by the mow height knob above it. Mainly what determines this gap is the arm in the picture on post #293 above. This is the arm that I removed the rearmost locking bolt from in order to allow me to the shorten it beyond its range to get my 1/8" gap. On your tractor, if you adjust this as short as you possibly can, you should see the gap below the stepper cam increase, possibly more than enough for what you need. Don't bother measuring the gap with the deck uninstalled as that's not accurate for the installed deck. The turnbuckles are for side to side height adjustment, not stepper cam gap.

The reason for the gap with the deck installed is so the stepper cam can be rotated into the lock position. This lock position allows you to use the three point hitch without lowering the deck or deck hanger and mid pto assembly which keeps them out of harms way. Say you're plowing a field. You raise and lower the three point hitch to plow with the rockshaft lever. You don't want the mid pto to be lowered with the plow, so you keep the height control knob in the lock position. This guarantees maximum clearance under the tractor.
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Are you doing this with the rockshaft (3 pt hitch) lever to the right of the seat all the way rearward? You want the deck up all the way to see the gap. Is this without a front end loader on the tractor?

If so, on both counts, you may have to remove that 3rd lock bolt to make the 3 pt lift link arm short enough to get a gap.

If you could post pictures of the turnbuckle on each side, the stepper cam, front height adjustment setting and 3 pt link arm all with the deck set to the highest position you can dial in, something much jump out at forum members.
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Sounds like your results are ending up similar to mine. Hopefully you can get the two out of three remaining lock bolts with a torque wrench to tighten them to 30 lb/ft.

Try to set your front to back height adjuster nuts the same on both sides. The two side turnbuckles should do the rest. I noticed on another thread that they let the deck all the way down on the floor in the Install adjustment setting and made the length of each turnbuckle just barely long enough to slide the pin in. They claimed it gave them perfect side to side leveling. That would be great if it worked. I can't confirm, since I did the tedious back and forth adjust and test method.
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Before I drive up and over my deck, I lay a 2' length of 4x4 (anything long and heavy enough) to hold the draft arms (front lifting yoke) down until it clears the front bumper. The spring that holds that arm up is strong enough to pull it up far enough up to catch the bumper keeping it from sliding into the two front hooks where it belongs. If this happens during hook up, the draft arms will slip off the bumper dropping the front of the deck during mowing. In any case verify the draft arms are securely in place in the two hooks before you finish connecting and lifting the deck. Also verify your rear link rod is flipped up so the left and right side are locked in place and holding the rear deck in the hooks.

I also put the 4x4 weight on the draft arm during deck removal as soon as it's free from the front hooks until the draft arm clears the front bumper when I back off the deck.
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It could be the set screw on the pto.

Something not mentioned is the install position of the deck. I had a similar problem once. Turned out the anti-scalp wheels were locked in the mowing position and the deck could not be fully dropped to the ground. Are your deck wheels all released?
Is it possible that your pto shaft isn't lining up perfectly with the deck coupling? If it doesn't go in smoothly, it can push the deck forward making it impossible to eliminate that gap. That smooth connection for most of us is taken for granted because it always works. Another set of eyes on the coupling process while you're driving forward comparing angles of each might tell you if adjustments are needed.

One more thing that could affect this is tire pressures. Worth a look.
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The angle of the pto shaft can be very finicky if it's slightly off. A previous post mentioned a slight downward angle.
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Happy to hear of your success.

One more thing that your solution suggests is exactly where your front tires are as you drive over the deck during install. The left front tire should be rubbing the left hand guide rail. It is possible the tractor was too far to the right to center on both lift tab hooks, especially the right hand one you had to widen. Depending on how far you bent that hook, you may have to bend it back if you drive further to the left.

As much as you may not want to, I suggest you uninstall the deck and try it again with that front tire rubbing the rail, unless you know for sure that you were doing it before. It would be a plus to fully understand what it takes to get an easy install every time. I would be wondering how or if that hook got bent off location to begin with.
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Got it. Maybe it got a hard hit from something when it was off. Good catch on your part.
Thanks for sharing.

Looks like some pretty crappy steel being used. Hopefully, your replacements will be better, but that's hard to know. Good quality, properly hardened steel should not wear that badly. It's very possible that Deere got a bad run of parts from their supplier, which should have created a recall.

I just replaced noisy ball bearings in our LG washing machine. The new ones sound exactly the same. Likely Chinese junk and I have no idea where to source U.S. made quality replacements. I had to fully disassemble the machine to change them, so the cost of the parts is a minor concern.
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Lots of tweeking potential. A center roller would help if your lawn contour is irregular leading to scalping. My max height was achieved by removing the forward lift strap lock bolt, so I'm only using the rear and center bolts. This allowed me to slide the straps closer together for more lift. Before I did that, I couldn't get the deck high enough to clear the lock position cam. The other thing I learned was tire pressure also contributes to deck height. I have mine at 10 psi all the way around to smooth out bumps and the max height is lower than 20 psi. The blade height gauge sold by Deere is a great tool for minimal cost. I also have the safety grass exit chute removed. It gives me better accuracy for lining up my cut on the right side.
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You said your gauge wheels are too high. Sounds like you can still adjust them down quite a bit at that deck height. What your preferred mowing height is would be where you would set your wheels. Others on here use recommended wheel positions, like 1/4" below the deck, but I set them to touch my garage floor at my mowing height. They rotate the entire time I mow, but work perfectly to keep the cut swaths even. The day after I mow, the entire lawn is level with no sign of height variations. All signs of any scalping are gone. Before I set the wheels up this way, the deck would lean down on the outside of every turn cutting lower on that side. Not any more. To reduce excessive wear on the plastic wheels, I pulled them off their axles and liberally applied grease. They aren't showing any signs of wear and are quiet when they're turning.
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Looking for a softer ride over a flat, but bumpy lawn, I dropped tire pressures to 10 psi front and rear. Clearly it improved my ride, but I starting seeing a lot more random scalping. More posts from others recently explained that low tire pressures allowed the tractor to lean more in turns and traversing hills causing uneven cuts. Yesterday, I aired my tires up to 20 psi and spent a good two hours leveling the deck within 1/8" side to side and 1/4" lower in the front than the rear. It took a lot of back and forth adjustments since my front drag link must be bent requiring a difference in adjustment on each side of of 1/4". In a perfect world, the drag link setting would be identical on each side. My 2012 1026R rules out that perfect world. Once I got the leveling as close as I could, I set the desired mower height, then put the gage wheels 1" above the garage slab. Recommendations I've read are 1/4-1/2", but that would put my gage wheels set at the last pin on the top, so I dropped to one pin setting lower. As it is at 1", the wheels are making pretty solid contact with the ground during mowing. This is all a far cry from most recommendations, but mowing 3 acres afterward produced the best cut possible. No scalping, no gage wheels lines, nothing but a flat, smooth continuous carpet of mowed lawn. Needless to say the tires will stay at 20 psi.

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? I even thought about grinding off the front edges of the rear lock cams to give them more clearance for release, but have doubts about doing that for fear the deck could fall off in the back during mowing. I'm doing deck release and hookup in my lawn at the most level location. Gage wheels are unpinned and fully up and out of the way with the entire deck resting solidly on the ground and height adjuster in install position. I can get the rod to snap down and release by using a pry bar to get adequate clearance for the locking cams, but not without the pry bar. Thoughts anyone?
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