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Discussion Starter #1
Last year, we bought the 1023e with the 54D autoconnect deck with manual lift. I absolutely hate the mower. I'm strongly considering switching to a rear finish mower, but the ability to do that depends completely on selling the 54D. However, I have no idea if there's a secondary market for the Deere belly mowers. The only indication I can see is that about one a year gets posted to the classifieds here with no indication that they ever sold, which suggests to me that it might be impossible to sell my deck. However, I'm sure there's some of you guys out there who look at used Deere equipment way more than I do and can give me a more realistic answer about this. Is selling the deck a viable option or am I likely to get pennies for it and have to wait a year or two to find a buyer?


Thanks for the help!
 

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I want one... Just don't want to pay $$$ for it as I will only use it maybe 4 times a year.

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I see quite a few of them on Craigslist. Not many of the 54D's though. Mostly the 62" decks. They don't seem to sell quickly if they are selling. When they come up they are usually on there for a couple of months.
 
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What is it that you dislike about the deck? I'm not trying to be nosey, but I have seen several threads on here about mower decks that were not properly set up by the dealer that give guys fits, and that the cut is awful. However most of the info that I've read after setting them up properly says guys are really really fond of the 54 and love the cut. Just makes sense to me to make absolutely sure that you can't make if work for you before taking one heck of a loss on it, and then spending more money to boot.
 
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I really like how my 60 inch mower cuts I can only imagine the 54 must cut nicer yet. But I agree with the above statement I think your deck may be set up improperly as mine was when I got it back from the dealer.
 

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I don't think there is much of a market for a used mmm as they are tractor specific . Only a person with a 10xx without a mmm would want one.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It cuts well enough. Honestly, I only cut the grass so it looks like someone is taking care of the property and I hate every minute of it. I don't give a darn how nice of a result it leaves. The problem for me is that our tractor is 90% used for heavy work and only reluctantly used to mow the grass. The deck is so easy to damage if you leave it on the tractor while you do other things that we have to install it immediately before mowing and uninstall it immediately after. Regardless of what JD marketing says, the deck is not consistently easy to latch (and have it stay attached!) and drives me nuts on a regular basis. As delivered from the dealer, it was basically impossible to latch it back up. After following directions and advice here on GTT, I was able to improve the setup to the point that I typically can get it to latch within the first 5 tries but I really have to ram the thing to get the latch to close over the draft arms. Add to that the fact that the deck weighs enough that it's right on my physical limits (spinal problems) to move it out of the way in the barn and I'm just done. I want either a RFM or ZTR so I can get stop having to deal with getting the deck on and off the tractor each time I have to mow.
 

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When I see decks for sale I usually see manually mounted decks they are in the 1200+ and up range. I am sure you paid quite a bit more for your auto connect.

I see you are from Ohio. The mid-West is a good place to buy/sell used JD's and parts. I would put it on CL for a while and then Ebay. Be realistic about a price(something well less than full price as new) and you will get some bites. It is getting late in the season though to sell a deck. You may have more luck in the spring when folks are taking off the snow blowers and getting their decks ready. I see this deck as maybe enticing to someone buying new but not wanting to save some money with a used deck. My buddy did buy a 1023 without a MMM so it does happen, just not sure how fast an auto connect deck will sell.
 

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There is something wrong with the way your mmm is set up. It takes me under a minute to install or uninstall the mmm on my 1026R. The only time my mmm is on my tractor is when I'm mowing , for any other chore I take it off.
 

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You shouldn't have to slam into your deck to get it to connect. Lets attack the real issue here and get you past the symptoms. :thumbup1gif:
 

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I feel your pain. I have personally had both the dealer reset up my deck and I have gone through the instructions on here. It makes a critical difference between a tire that is 1 lb off on pressure as to whether or not it will connect properly. Found out the dealer was inflating tires to 35 lbs which is well over rated pressure. Also, discovered that they were taking the H120 off. I leave mine on all the time. Sure it is fun to mow without it, but I keep mine on for weight and getting out of wet areas.

I though wish I would not have bought the 54d and instead spent that money on a nice ZTR too. It would be a better setup. My new to me Graymor 5ft rotary mower that is almost 50 years old does a better finish cut than that 54d. It was a huge waste of money buying it.

My 54D leaves all kinds of uneven cuts, almost like the arbors are mounted at an angle. Does not look nice at all.

I am happy many here on GTT have better success than me, but I bet there are just as many of us that are fed up with the deck.

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Discussion Starter #12
dieselshadow, I've been through your posts on setup in several different threads and tried everything you've talked about that has helped other owners. It has made my situation MUCH better, but the result is still what I've described here. If you want to run me through a troubleshooting checklist anyway, I'm all ears because, no matter what, I still have to make it through at least the end of this mowing season with taking the deck off and putting it back on repeatedly.


I am happy many here on GTT have better success than me, but I bet there are just as many of us that are fed up with the deck.
Yep, exactly.

I make my living, well, made my living... anyway... by owning a shop that made cars go a hell of a lot faster and by keeping them running. I also tested, designed, and produced a fair number of aftermarket parts. I say this not to brag but to give a context for my impression of the deck and the autoconnect because it's a problem I'm very, very familiar with from my professional work. The deck and latching system have all the hallmarks of a design that's very good on paper, very good when you're testing prototypes, and not so great in full production. One of the things I ran into repeatedly was that some go-fast bits work perfectly when everything about the host chassis is perfectly in spec but the design leaves absolutely no tolerance for things being different than how the plans say they should be. Something formed 30 arcminutes off in a bend, something welded 1mm out of position, coating being double the planned thickness, etc. So it works on the prototype because every piece was hand checked for hitting the center of spec. It works close enough to intent on most customer installs because the tolerance stacking of that customer's chassis happens to work out right (two errors cancel each other out). But on a certain fraction of customer vehicles (or tractors in this case), the design fails to work at all be cause the chassis's tolerance stack wasn't compatible with the new part. Too many engineers design for when everything goes right, not when everything goes wrong!


After my own experiences with this deck and with reading posts by many other unhappy users, that's my conclusion about the deck. It works for most owners because the tolerance stack of their tractor is compatible with the intended operation of the latching mechanism on the deck. However, there are parts and tractors making it through JD's QC that end up resulting in a tolerance stack that's incompatible with proper function of the latching mechanism. For those of us who got the short end of the stick, this thing is a god-awful pain in the butt.
 

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Ok, let's examine a few things first. :good2:

1. Where are you connecting and disconnecting your mower? Is it hard, flat, and level? Is it the same place or random places in the yard? A good description of what and where you do this would be helpful.

2. Did you follow the setup and adjustment thread instructions from the top, in order, as described?

3. Is the tractor is good operating condition? Tires properly inflated and matched for mowing?

4. Do you change the tire pressure for loader work?

5. How precise were you with your side to side level and deck pitch? (1/8"-1/4" low in the front)

6. How picky are you about your lawn?

7. Have lubricated the stub-shaft for the mower gearbox? The driveshaft for the mower?

8. Is the auto-connect hardware and lift arms in good condition? Is something bent or worn/loose? This is critical.

9. Do you really want the help and get this working properly or have you made your mind up that it's a piece of junk? (No offense meant here, just don't want to waste my time if you don't really want to work on it. :good2: There's been way too many cases of people so overly frustrated with X machine/problem, whatever, that virtually anything I did was a waste of time and effort, even if I was successful. They were convinced it was junk.)

If 9 is yes, then let's answer these questions, and if need be, I'll personally help you over the phone if we can't solve it easily here on the forum. :thumbup1gif:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
1. Where are you connecting and disconnecting your mower? Is it hard, flat, and level? Is it the same place or random places in the yard? A good description of what and where you do this would be helpful.
Always in exactly the same place on the floor of my barn. High gloss polished concrete. It's neither flat nor level, but it's the flattest, levelest place on the property. The main problem has been that it's too slick. Not only will the deck not latch, but the fact that the front differential is open has led to the tractor spinning the deck like a top when I try to drive on to/off of it.

I resolved this by buying some rubber flooring meant for a gym (the kind to protect the floor when people drop weights) that's made of rubber and about 1/2" thick. So long as I keep the dust off the top of it and out from between it and the floor, this provides enough friction for the deck to stay safely in place while I move the tractor on/off of the deck and has made latching much more consistent, though still often frustrating.

So lay the weight room mat on the floor, then wheel the deck on top of it using the deck dolly. I drive over the deck, drop the arms, and drive forwards into the deck to latch it. If I push up against the deck gently, it will never latch. I make sure the PTO lever is set to rear only (and MAN that lever is often a PITA to move!) With the throttle at low idle, I move forwards until it starts to push the deck, then back up as far as I can and (with the throttle still at low idle), give a fast stomp to the go pedal with the tractor in low gear. Banging into the deck this hard is enough to get it to latch on the first try about 70% of the time. I then get off the tractor and verify the latch is closed fully and set the gauge wheels.


2. Did you follow the setup and adjustment thread instructions from the top, in order, as described?
Yes, I followed the directions and it made a big improvement. It took it from basically completely non-working to working but really frustrating.

3. Is the tractor is good operating condition? Tires properly inflated and matched for mowing?
To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with the hardware. Tires inflated 22/20 for mowing and checked regularly.

4. Do you change the tire pressure for loader work?
No, I leave the tires at loader pressure all the time because the mowing is a secondary use for the tractor that I don't really care about.

5. How precise were you with your side to side level and deck pitch? (1/8"-1/4" low in the front)
1/4" low in the front, level to within 1/16" side to side.

6. How picky are you about your lawn?
Not at all. So long as it looks like it has been mowed so people don't think the property is abandoned, that's all I'm after.

7. Have lubricated the stub-shaft for the mower gearbox? The driveshaft for the mower?
I have, but not recently. Probably ought to do it again.

8. Is the auto-connect hardware and lift arms in good condition? Is something bent or worn/loose? This is critical.
The left draft arm is slightly rusty just in front of the pin that engages the deck. The reason for this is that, at full lift, the deck pinches the draft arm between the deck and the frame and has scraped the coating off the arm. This is the only problem I'm aware of.

9. Do you really want the help and get this working properly or have you made your mind up that it's a piece of junk? (No offense meant here, just don't want to waste my time if you don't really want to work on it
I would love to have this working better because, as I said, I have to finish out this season no matter what. If we can get it working to the point that it doesn't frustrate the crap out of me every time I have to look at it, that would be good because it means I can hold off switching to a different mower for several more years, which allows us to use the money to get stuff we'd rather do accomplished. In the long run, I'm sure I'll be switching away from this as manhandling the deck off the floor and up against the wall for storage is really hard on me even with the Deck Dolly. But if we can get the deck working right, buying 3-4 years before I have to pay for a RFM would be awesome!
 

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As for the market for a MMM I had one for sale on Craigslist and it sold locally in about three weeks.
 

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Always in exactly the same place on the floor of my barn. High gloss polished concrete. It's neither flat nor level, but it's the flattest, levelest place on the property. The main problem has been that it's too slick. Not only will the deck not latch, but the fact that the front differential is open has led to the tractor spinning the deck like a top when I try to drive on to/off of it.

I resolved this by buying some rubber flooring meant for a gym (the kind to protect the floor when people drop weights) that's made of rubber and about 1/2" thick. So long as I keep the dust off the top of it and out from between it and the floor, this provides enough friction for the deck to stay safely in place while I move the tractor on/off of the deck and has made latching much more consistent, though still often frustrating.

So lay the weight room mat on the floor, then wheel the deck on top of it using the deck dolly. I drive over the deck, drop the arms, and drive forwards into the deck to latch it. If I push up against the deck gently, it will never latch. I make sure the PTO lever is set to rear only (and MAN that lever is often a PITA to move!) With the throttle at low idle, I move forwards until it starts to push the deck, then back up as far as I can and (with the throttle still at low idle), give a fast stomp to the go pedal with the tractor in low gear. Banging into the deck this hard is enough to get it to latch on the first try about 70% of the time. I then get off the tractor and verify the latch is closed fully and set the gauge wheels.



Yes, I followed the directions and it made a big improvement. It took it from basically completely non-working to working but really frustrating.


To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with the hardware. Tires inflated 22/20 for mowing and checked regularly.


No, I leave the tires at loader pressure all the time because the mowing is a secondary use for the tractor that I don't really care about.


1/4" low in the front, level to within 1/16" side to side.


Not at all. So long as it looks like it has been mowed so people don't think the property is abandoned, that's all I'm after.


I have, but not recently. Probably ought to do it again.


The left draft arm is slightly rusty just in front of the pin that engages the deck. The reason for this is that, at full lift, the deck pinches the draft arm between the deck and the frame and has scraped the coating off the arm. This is the only problem I'm aware of.


I would love to have this working better because, as I said, I have to finish out this season no matter what. If we can get it working to the point that it doesn't frustrate the crap out of me every time I have to look at it, that would be good because it means I can hold off switching to a different mower for several more years, which allows us to use the money to get stuff we'd rather do accomplished. In the long run, I'm sure I'll be switching away from this as manhandling the deck off the floor and up against the wall for storage is really hard on me even with the Deck Dolly. But if we can get the deck working right, buying 3-4 years before I have to pay for a RFM would be awesome!
Loosen your front draft arms a half turn each and see if that corrects the issue. When I was trying to get the max lift out of my deck I tightened the front draft arms a little to much and had the exact same issue of having to bang the deck.

As for the market for a MMM I had one for sale on Craigslist and it sold locally in about three weeks.
What did you get for it?

If I don't trade for a 2038 I will probably sell my 60" deck and all of the lift mechanisms as I no longer cut grass with the 1025
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Loosen your front draft arms a half turn each and see if that corrects the issue. When I was trying to get the max lift out of my deck I tightened the front draft arms a little to much and had the exact same issue of having to bang the deck.
Already tried it. The front draft arms are actually slightly slack in the front hook things when the deck is laying on the ground.
 

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I got about 50% of the dealer list price of just the deck.
 

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I would carefully examine the latching mechanism. It must move freely and smoothly. It also needs to "spring over" easily. I had to shim mine from the dealer to get it to work correctly. I also had to debur the hooks on the back of the mower. After you accomplish this, get the mower under the tractor with it in the "install" position. With the engine off, PTO to the rear, trans in neutral, roll the tractor back and forth (or use a helper for this) and find the bind. If you have to slam the deck, something is wrong. I suspect your latching mechanism is binding up. It should easily flip to the locked position with no binding. There has been several versions of the locking rod. If yours is damaged (which is easily done if you slam your deck while misaligned) you can bend or damage the lock bad enough to cause your heartache.

Please try this and report back what you find. We'll get you through this. :thumbup1gif:
 
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