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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I followed the instructions in the manual to setup and level the 48” mower deck on my new X590. I was able to level the deck using the included deck leveling tool but the cut just didn’t look quite right. The cut is not quite flat and level. Frankly, I think that the cut quality was better on my previous machine, a Cub Cadet Commercial zero turn machine. Being that the X590 is still new to me, I thought that it might be normal, but it just didn’t seem quite right for such a good JD machine. I checked and confirmed that the deck was level per the included leveling tool before each mow.
The tires are set exactly to spec, 14.0 front and 10.0 rear, using a very accurate tire pressure gauge that measures to the 1/10th pound.
The anti-scalp wheels are raised and the cut height is set to the 2 1/2” leveling height.
The floor of the garage was confirmed to be flat and level using a four foot construction level.
Both the left and right reference points are set exactly correct to allow the tool to barely contact the deck as it passes under the the test point near the rear anti-scalp wheels.
Likewise for the front reference point near the left side of the front of the decks anti-scalp roller.
The front drawbar is installed correctly and I confirmed that the left and right lengths are identical by using a caliper as well as counting the exposed threads. They are spot-on identical.
Still, the cut quality was pretty good but it still didn’t look quite right. The uneven cut was slight but noticeable.

When I picked up the supplies to do the first oil change I also picked up one of the yellow JD AM130907 “Leveling gauge for mower decks”. Today, using the included leveling tool that came with the machine, I confirmed that the deck was level per the specs and the procedure in the manual. Next, using the yellow gauge to measure the height of the blade tips, again following the procedure in the manual when using that tool. The blades were adjusted to be perpendicular to the chassis. I was able to set the left - right blade height adjustments to be spot-on at 2 1/2” each at the blade tips. Next, per the instructions, I set the blades to be parallel to the chassis. The left front blade height also measured 2 1/2”. The rear of the blade also measured 2 1/2”. I expected it to be approximately 1/4” higher at the rear but it was not. Note that for each measurement I rotated the blade 180 degrees and measured again to confirm that the blade was not bent. That did not produce any irregular measurements. The blades are not bent. The problem is the right front blade height. It measured 2 1/8” ! That makes the right front blade to be 3/8” low at the most forward position! I have to believe that is the cause of the uneven cut that I am seeing. I don’t see how that can be corrected by making others adjustments without throwing them out of spec and creating a new problem. I am also surprised to find that the blade tips do not measure approximately 1/4” higher in the rear as the manual suggests they should.

So, what the heck am I doing wrong? I spent several hours crawling around the tractor this afternoon making adjustments and confirming measurement after measurement. My knees are killing me!

I have not contacted the selling dealer yet because, frankly, my confidence in them is low. I will if I can not correct the problem myself. I certainly will appreciate any advice that you fine folks can offer.

Thank you in advance.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I would readjust the deck using only the blade measurement tool. The blades are the only thing that matters when leveling a deck.

As you know, they should be level (same height) side to side and the front 1/4" lower then the rear.
After countless attempts to achieve the correct dimensions yesterday I kept coming up with the front being out of spec. My efforts to adjust the front draft arms so that they were identical did not help. All that I could do was move that single 3/8” bad measurement from front to rear.

I am usually quite capable of figuring these kinds of things out, but not this time. After several hours I was frustrated and exhausted. That led to my post here requesting help. Thanks to the great advice that I received from you and the others, the problem was resolved this afternoon. I appreciate you help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Bruce, I don't have an X590, but to me, a mowing deck is a mowing deck!

One deck hanger is normal a fixed length and the side to side adjustment is made level by adjusting the adjustable hanger. You say your deck is level side to side, so I guess you got that figured out!
Front to rear is controlled by adjusting the front draft arms. From what you've said, something is wrong in adjustment of the front arms.

First off, don't "get your knockers in a knot" over 1/4" high in back or 1/4" low in front. AND, you'll NEVER get the same dimension on all 3 blades, it's impossible! Your deck hangs from the 2 lift links which are towards the rear of the deck and behind the centerline of the spindles and the center spindle is on a different centerline also. As you lift the front of your deck by shorten your front draft arms, the front end of the blades will lift quickly, but not the rear... due to the lift link position on the deck. And, since the spindles are on a different centerline dimensions, adjusting the height of the center blade 1/4" may only change the outer blades by 3/16" and maybe only 1/16" in the rear!

So! I would: Set blades parallel with frame (blades facing front & rear) and then adjust the length of the front arms to get BOTH outer blades 1/4" low in the front. There's no need to have the same dimension or number of threads the same on both arms, but you DO NEED both blades to be at the same height by adjusting the arms however much! Then, go back and check your side to side level...depending on how much you change the front arms could influence your side level. Readjust if necessary. If you adjust side to side, go back and check position of BOTH outer blades and adjust front arms if needed. It's a lot of back & forth to get it right, but it should be only needed once in the lifetime of your deck!

If you check the front of the center blade, it'll probably be something less than !/4" on your leveling gauge. I wouldn't worry. Take a test cut on you lawn and see what it looks like, If the cent looks low, shorten front arms, the SAME number of turns on each side, and take another cut.

'Bout all I've got! I hope I didn't confuse ya! Bob
You didn’t confuse me at all. Quite the contrary. Even though I thought that I was following the procedure as laid out in the manual yesterday, I followed your suggested procedure this afternoon. TA DA! It worked perfectly today. The deck is now spot-on. The left and right blade tips each measure exactly 2 1/2” at their most forward point. They both measure exactly 2 3/4” at their most rearward point. And, as expected, they measure exactly the same ath their most outward position at roughly 2 5/8”. BINGO! I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I took those last measurements, and then did ‘em again just to make sure.

I think you were correct that the problem was with the front draft arms. I was trying to be so careful to keep them exactly the same length. I hesitated to make any hasty adjustments to them from the way that I received the machine a month or so ago. I mistakenly thought that was crucial. Thinking back to when and how the tractor was delivered to me so poorly set up, I should not have been hesitant to make those adjustments. When I loosened both of the lock-nuts and began to adjust them to set both of the blade tips to be 2 1/2” without regard to them being equal length, everything else began to fall into place. From that point it was just a matter of setting the rear hanger adjustments to be level left to right. I did make several further fine adjustments to the front draft arms and the rear hanger settings to fine tune the final settings. Now the measurements are all spot-on and the deck is perfectly level for the first time. And what do you know? The deck leveling tool that came with the tractor that is stored under the seat now works just fine! It does indicate that the front draft bar bracket is about 1/8” too high but I can live with that. Annnnd, the draft arms ARE the same length again!

It got to be pretty late in the day for me to mow today so I will have to wait until tomorrow to give it a test run. There is that and my knees along with everything else above and below them need some rest. I am optimistic that the cut quality will improve. I will post a comment about the results after the next mow.

Thank you very much for your help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I used a 3-3/4" standard pipe nipple as a measuring guide and reset the height by measuring at the blade tips when fully extended right and left..I mow at 3-3/4 or 4" so to me it makes more sense to measure at the height of cut. Why set it at the lower setting then change it right away to a different height? Perhaps the lifting arms are bent or not both lifting the same amount for some reason. If you have the MOD kit....take the baffles completely off and se if the mow is producing a better cut. Those baffles alter the lift of the grass blades differently from right to left due to the air flow restriction. You might find the level of the cut more uniform at a lower setting than a higher setting due to the inability of the blades to lift the grass at a higher setting but a lower cut may be too short for your particular lawn.
I got that yellow JD deck leveling gauge to be able to take accurate measurements at the blade tips. It works very well for me. I feared that there was something seriously out of alignment either on the tractor or on the mower deck itself. I am relieved that was not the case. I really didn’t want to have to go back to the dealer to get that kind of thing resolved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Bruce, A tractor is made from weldments, castings, and die formed sheet metal, each of which has a tolerance. Tolerances can add up, making your deck and inch out of alignment, or cancel out, making your deck "perfect" when installed. If a tractor was 100% fully machined with +/- 0.0000" tolerance, Deere could have supplied 2 non-adjustable lift links and 2 non-adjustable front draft arms. But they're NOT 0.0000" tolerance and a means to adjust is required! What you did is normal and required to get the cut that you want... the proper cut!

You also mentioned your confidence in your dealer is low. I believe that you your final cost includes "Dealer Set-up" charges, which should include installing and leveling your deck! If you went to your dealer, he may have said, 'We did that already, it's fine.' or charged you another $100 or $300 to look at it, say it's fine, and STILL charge you! You made a correct decision, fix it your self, AND learned in the process! If you find a problem later, you'll be able to resolve it on your own... without getting to the dealer, waiting for them to find the time to repair it, and then getting it back home. LOTS of sharp people in here, so just ask and we'll be happy to help. Bob
I never expected the tractor and deck to be manufactured to anything close to 0.0000” tolerance. However, the thing that started this debacle was that I very carefully followed the manual to make the adjustments to the deck using the little plastic tool that came with the machine. I had no trouble doing so. The cut quality did not seem to be as good as I expected it to be for a quality machine like the JD X590. It wasn’t terrible, it was just not great. When I got the yellow JD Deck Leveling Gauge and took some measurements, I found that there was a problem. Discovering that the right front blade tip was 3/8” low sure seemed like there was a problem. At that time I did not see a way to adjust anything that would not cause problems elsewhere. I thought that I could only raise or lower the front end equally by adjusting the draft arms equally. That led to my difficulty leveling the deck by taking measurements instead of relying on that plastic tool that came with the machine. With many thanks to the fine members here that offered their help, I was able to resolve the problem and level the deck. I can’t say that it is within 0.0000” of spec but it is now as close to being spot-on to spec as one could hope it could be.

I agree with your analysis and speculation about how things would have gone had I taken my problem to the dealer. My confidence is low that they would have been able to sort it out as well as I was able to, thanks again to the sharp members here. And yes, I learned a lot while doing so.

Thank you and all of the others that helped me to sort it all out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
BruceRPA, Looking forward to seeing pictures of the cutting results now that you have the deck "squared away". Once you have had a mower which cuts extremely well, anything else is really unacceptable for most of us..........
I did mow today. I had to wait until 2:00PM for the morning dew to dry before starting. I didn’t finish until it was time to get cleaned up to go out to dinner. I did not take any pictures but the cut quality definitely did improve. I can take some pictures tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I am really glad you were able to figure out how to make the corrections for your deck and to get it to be level. I never realized how important that front hanger bar is and how much it effects the deck leveling process. I knew it was used to set the front to back pitch but I didn't think it would affect the Right to Left level also. This was a great learning experience for a lot of us. Thanks for sharing your story so we all could learn. Post some pictures after you mow and let us know if the mow is an improvement.
I was surprised to find the problem was the front draft hanger bars too. I thought that their adjustments had to be identical and that they would raise or lower the front of the entire deck, not just one side or the other. I sure did learn something new to me! I did mow today and the cut quality definitely did improve. I will take some pictures and post them tomorrow.

Thank you and the others again that held me to resolve the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hey Bruce, as long as your at it, raise and lower the deck a few times from min to max, then remeasure to see if the deck stays level. I’m curious if it holds the level.
OK, will do. I am curious about that too, especially after mowing. I may not be able to get to that today but I will let you know, hopefully within the next day or so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
As requested, here are the pictures of the results after the deck was set up and leveled correctly for the first time. Although I don’t have any “before” pictures, I can see a noticeable improvement.

We have had a very good spring and summer for growing grass. There has been just the right consistency and amount of rain, actually a little more than normal. A few days ago, just prior to this most recent mow we got a lot of rain. Following that rain our lawn care service applied the fall fertilizer treatment. My point with all that is that the lawn is very happy! The lawn is very thick and healthy. It was also rather long in most places. I estimate that it was roughly 5” long. Depending on the length of the grass and how dense it was, I mowed with the MOD closed whenever possible. In areas where it had to be open I usually made a second pass with the MOD closed.

I know that some folks here don’t like the MOD but I love it. It works fine for me, even if I occasionally have to make a second pass. That only occurs when the grass is unusually tall, unusually dense, or wet. Some of those conditions were present with this most recent mow. Most mows are done with the MOD closed the entire time.

Plant Sky Tree Natural landscape Branch

It is hard to see the slope in the foreground of this picture. Everything that is in the shade of the tree is on a steep slope that was mowed with a push mower. The lawn behind it is a part of our “back forty” that is kind of rough and rocky with only thin top soil. Still, the cut was rather smooth.

Plant Sky Green Tree Natural landscape

This is an area that is mostly level. I did make multiple passes with the MOD open or closed as necessary. Even the first pass was smooth and level.

Plant Sky Natural environment Natural landscape Tree

Another similar view. There is a slight slope below the pine tree. The grass is very dense in this entire view. Note that there is no grass clippings laying on top of the grass. Of course the clippings are still green but they all but disappear. There were some leaves on the lawn, but they got ground up and are are gone too.

Plant Sky Natural landscape Tree Land lot

This a a view of the slope beside the house. There are some visible ridges below the wall but even they have been improved since leveling the deck. Considering the curve and the steepness of the slope, I don’t think the ridges are entirely avoidable. They fade from sight within a few days.

Plant Green People in nature Grass Natural landscape

This is a closed view of the area between the house and the pine tree. The grade is mostly level. The grass is very dense in this area. Again, I made multiple passes in this area. First pass with the MOD open. Second pass with the MOD closed. I am very pleased with the results now.

Plant Botany Natural landscape Tree Grass

This is a view of the front yard. The grade is mostly level. It does drop off and slope near the driveway at the top of the picture. I always mow this area using multiple passes in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Again, I am very pleased with the results now.

So, unless something changes, I think that the problem has been resolved. I can’t tell you all how much I appreciate everyone’s help. The fact that GTT members here are so willing to take their time to share their knowledge and their experience with others, especially the new guy, confirms that GTT is a terrific forum comprised of outstanding individuals. Over the past several months I have done a LOT of reading of new and old posts throughout GTT. I have to give a lot of credit to the admin / owners and the moderators. I know how much time and effort it takes to maintain such a quality forum. Its no small task. Just as important, the members that police themselves here are the reason that the decorum is so good.

Just in case I have not said it enough, I want to sincerely thank each and every one that has taken their time to help me to resolve my problem. I could not have done it without your help and I doubt that the dealer could have, or would have, either.

Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
All of this shows why the $5.00 pivoting gauge from Deere that measures the blade tip height can be better than the little tool that is provided to quickly check the height of the deck.

Anyway, glad to hear you got it sorted out.
AMEN to that! When I was using the tool that came with the tractor, I was able to make the adjustments as laid out in the manual to level the deck. Using that tool alone, it was right where it was supposed to be. Unfortunately it also masked the real problem with the cut quality. That being that the right front ONLY was 3/8” too low. The tool did not indicate that there was a problem at all and the manual does not mention it. There should be a mention in the manual to encourage owners to use the yellow tool for the most accurate and complete adjustment procedure.

Thanks to the suggestions of everyone here and following the procedure that rwmeyer laid out, I was able to make the necessary measurements accurately with the yellow JD Leveling gauge for Mower Decks. That led to the problem being resolved. It also helped me to correct some misunderstandings I had and to learn about how to properly and accurately level the mower deck. I have come to believe that little tool that comes with the tractor is fine for making quick checks, but to do it right, the yellow tool or an equivalent is required.
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Hey Bruce, as long as your at it, raise and lower the deck a few times from min to max, then remeasure to see if the deck stays level. I’m curious if it holds the level.
I checked the blade heights yesterday and found them to be holding just fine. That did involve raising and lowering the deck many times throughout the process of mowing last week and the cleanup afterward. The measurements were the same as prior to mowing last week. I did make one very minor fine adjustment. I will check again after mowing today and let you know if anything changes. Otherwise, once again with thanks to you and others that offered their help and advice, I think this problem has been solved.
 
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