The goal of a Ride On Mower is to make your life simpler. Why spend hours pushing a walk behind mower around, and getting exhausted and sweaty in the process when you can actually enjoy what you are doing while sitting down. You don’t think about problems, you just want the dream. The dream, and the result, a great looking manicured lawn minus the effort. Of course you expect there will be a level of care and maintenance to attend to in order to keep your ride on mower performing well, but you really don’t expect issues and frustrations. One of these frustrations is blocking. Of course when you operate a moving vehicle over grass and expect it to cut it and suck it up it doesn’t take a whiz kid to see their could be problems. In this article we look at why ride-on mowers experiencing blocking, and what you can do about it. This article could even help you understand ride on mowers more so you make a good purchasing decision.
Why does blocking occur? It’s a complicated engineering process but the major points can be broken into three groups. Grass Build Up, overloading the grass catcher and operator driving skill.
Grass build up can occur during the spring when frequent rain leaves grass mixed with mud and this heavy concoction builds under the deck till no more grass can get through and a blockage occurs. In situations like this it’s important to watch your grass cutting length – if it’s too low you may have this problem.
When the grass catcher reaches capacity, the grass has no where else to go except back down the chute. Because the grass is still being blown or sucked through the deck the operator may have no idea until the tail tell sign of debris start appearing on the nice newly mowed lawn. Features to prevent this from happening include audible alarms that shrill when the bin is at capacity, and/or a cut off switch to stop the blades once the bin is full.
Lastly, driver operation is another factor that can contribute to blocking. Driving too fast for the conditions, particularly in the spring when new growth means grass is heavy and thick can cause the grass to build up in corners and around the edges of the deck and baffle area until a blockage occurs.
Now the important part, what can you do to minimize blocking? Just like the three causes, there are three answers; Design, Mowing Technique and Proper Care and Maintenance.
Fantastic collection begins at the first point in any collection system, the cutting deck. The purpose of a cutting deck is to enable the grass to move unencumbered from blades up through the chute and into the catcher bin. Grass can get stuck in sharp corners and over time cause a build up which creates a blockage. Well designed decks will reduce corners and and streamline areas in the deck where grass can build up.
Blade design is important for the propulsion of grass into the intake tube. As the whole system is powered by air, this moving air need to come either from blade tip speed or from a mechanical device such as an impeller or fan. These later devices work when, but as they are another moving part they add to the list of parts that can go wrong. Draft from blade tip speed however, as long as enough can be generated, is a much more simple way of getting grass moving and generally less expensive. If you are relying on blade draft then you want the grass to have to travel the shortest route to the catcher and avoid corners and bends as much as possible.
After deck and blade design, the next consideration is the engine or to be more precise the power to blade tip speed ratio. You can have all the horse power in the world but unless it’s effectively used in getting the most out of those blades it will go to waste. An aspect which impacts this calculation is the width of the cutting deck, as a wider deck means more grass to get into the catcher. Ride on mowers that are designed to maximize the the power to blade speed will do a better faster job of getting the grass into the catcher.
The two vital outcomes you want from a collection mower are to cut and collect without leaving fragments on the ground, and secondly to collect without blocking all the time. A good thing to ask your outdoor power equipment dealer is where the machine commonly blocks and how hard it is to remove and get back mowing. Ride On mowers that offer good accessibility to fix blockages will be more practical when you’re out in the middle of your lawn or paddock.
Open up your catcher bin when it’s full, what you want is a even dispersed collection with good coverage in the bin, not just all lumped in one corner. If your still to have a working demonstration make sure you make this one of your tasks to do. Not every ride on mower will be able to oblige.
Paying attention to the conditions is important. When it’s wet or the grass is heavy and thick in Spring, driving too fast may increase the likelihood of blockages. To steer clear of this problem keep the ride on mower’s revs up and the speed down to enable the mower to process the grass.
Maintenance is of utmost importance if you want to keep the ride on mower going well. They can really take a beating, especially the cutting deck which handles wet grass, and may come into contact with large unmovable objects such as rocks, stones, stumps and even toys or rubbish. Servicing is similar to the servicing you would do on a push mower, although as the deck is larger it is slightly more complicated. Staying on top of the maintenance with regular servicing is the key to retaining long life and also keeping the deck in a manageable condition.
Dulled blades will tear grass rather than cut it and tall or wet grass places stress on the PTO and mower belts as the motion tries to discharge the grass from the deck.
The deck should be removed and scraped clean at the middle of each mowing season and at the end of it to remove dried caked-on grass. Best use is to clean your cutting deck after each use and nowadays there are several available deck cleaning devices to perform this task easily without removing the deck. This practice will prevent the caked-on grass and mud buildup that occurs. Remove and sharpen the blades at the end of each mowing season. Replace the blades every other year for optimum cutting performance.
You want to enjoy your mowing so following these methods and instructions will help you to control the factors that can lead to increased blocking. By purchasing astutely and understanding your machine you can get years of hassle free ride on mowing and collection and of course a beautiful result on your lawn.