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

284130 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. 📗 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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Hi, can anybody tell me why this is so onesided and how to resolve it? View attachment 740559
View attachment 740559
Sorry about the two images.
All I see is links to the forum.
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I seem to recall my 1023e with 54D deck is also like that. Not sure if it is that much but I do remember them not being centered.
Anybody else has a 54D and see this? Is this normal? Should I worry?
I noticed mine was the same way the other day. All I did was take a hammer and tap the end of the rod so it was centered in the bracket. I then retightened the bolts shown in the picture and I'm hoping for the best. Haven't really tested it much since then but I'm hopeful that I'm a genius.
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’s described in your MMM manual.
Wouldn't that mean that the center blade cuts lower than the outer blades? As the center blade sits ahead of the outers.

Just measured mine and it’s 1/4” 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’s 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” difference would be pretty challenging.
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.
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.
position control on the 1025R
Position control on the 1025r is the way to go if you dont have hydrolic lift for the mower deck,
Hello All,

Finally completed reading this complete thread.
I did a preliminary check (tire pressure, etc) and my left side blade is 1.25" lower than the right.
Mower deck uninstalls and reinstalls fine.
Both turnbuckles are maxed out to the longest length, the left side top does not seat on the frame hook as does the right side.
Photo of lift link and strap attached (looks ok).
I have printed out diesels instructions and the MMM lift kit instructions for review when checking the gap.
Question; if the gap is as suggested in this post, would I need to go thru the adjustment process or just level the deck from side to side?
Thanks for all the excellent info!


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Anybody have some detailed steps on adjusting the rockshaft control lever? I had some issues and went thru the complete setup on page 1. I have a nice gap with the strap adjusted of almost 1/4". When the deck is attached the gap disappears and I cannot rotate the knob. I followed the instructions and lifted the cam buckles and the gap never increases so from what I have seen with others it seems the rockshaft control lever is the culprit.
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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My lift strap has 3/16" of a gap when the deck is off. Once the deck is back on, the gap disappears and it is about even with the lock position. No matter how many times I turn the turnbuckles up, the gap never increases. From what I have read on this site, some people have had issues where the rockshaft control lever can be adjusted ever so slightly to give me the extra 1/8" that I need to clear the cam. I am literally talking about that small of an increase is needed to clear the turnbuckle.
Like I said, I have my strap adjusted at least 3/16" if not even 1/4" gap when the 60 MMM is off the machine. It is way bigger than the ones I have seen here. It has to be something else because I have done every step at least 4 times in the first post and that gap will not change with the deck on.

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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I’ve had my new 1025R with 60D deck, mechanical lift, for about 3 weeks and I still can’t get the lift knob higher than 3.5 with lift straps fully extended. I’ve tried different side link lengths, front link length, feel like I am missing something and does anyone have any ideas? I don’t want to remove the third lift strap bolt if I don’t have to but that’s what it is looking like.
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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Yes and yes on the first two questions, I ended up removing the 3rd lift strap bolt and took two adjustments to get a 1/8 ish gap, after doing so the quick connect works a lot better, I don’t have to tug on the back lever to disconnect. Working on leveling now, about an hour in the think I have my last side to side adjustment. I spent a good 3hrs this morning on the lift strap, one trick I learned is you can adjust with deck on and left rear on, just need a long enough wrench and do so in the drive off position, PTO all the way down.
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