Thursday, June 16, 2011

Zero John

Zero John In

                                             Little John Out
Grass cutting can be a problem in the country as most places have very big yards that have to be kept mowed so as not to be an eyesore.  

I have about 2 1/2 acres of grass to mow regularly, including some fairly steep roadway edges.  So it takes a good operating mower to keep the place looking good.

On Monday, June 13, 2011, I was mowing the very dry grass in my yards.  Due to extremely dry weather we've had for several months, about all that was growing was the Bahia grass with it's long, helicopter like tassels.  In hot, dry times the shoots on that grass get very tough to cut.  Little John, a 22 hp John Deere L-175 tractor with a 48" mower was needing new blades, but I was moving slowly in order to cut the tough shoots.  I had just finished cutting all the roadsides and made 7 rounds in the yards when Little John began sputtering.  It did OK for a little while. Later, it started sputtering again and made it from out by the roadside to the front of the garage and totally died!

I took the air filters out and blew dust out of them with compressed air and reinstalled them. Still would not run.  So, I decided not to bother with it any longer and loaded it up on Sib's trailer, came in and showered and headed for the John Deere dealership in Lucedale, MS.  The service guy told me that the problem was in the carburetor.  This is what I thought and was afraid of.  

Since the government has enticed oil companies to start mixing 10% Ethanol in the gasoline used in small engine equipment has been causing carburetors to deteriorate as the ethanol and moisture in the fuel tanks mix causing acid to form that eats up the metal of the carburetors.  I did not hear of this until a couple of weeks ago.  I bought some product that counteracts the ethanol but have not added any to a partial 5-gallon can. One ounce of the addative will neutralize 5-gallons of gasoline.

Besides the carburetor, I had a bearing in one of the mower shafts that was making noise, it needed to be serviced, the belts are 5-years-old. and it needed a new set of blades.  I figured the cost to take care of all those things would cost at least $250.00 and I'd still have a 5-year-old mower.  

So, I talked with a salesman about a zero turn tractor/mower.  He gave me a price quote for a John Deere Z-445, Zero turn with a 48 inch cutting width mower.  I figured I was already out the $250, so I told him to take $300 off the quoted price, which I figured that the two figures would save me $550.  So we made the deal.  They did the required service on it and loaded it on the trailer.  

I'd only cut about 1/3rd of the grass, I went ahead and started finishing the cutting.  At first, I was zig zagging all over the yards getting used to the lever steering of those type mowers.  In my head that if I needed to turn left I'd invariably turn right! But, I soon got the feel of it and finished the cutting in only a few minutes.  This type mower cuts about twice as fast as the old type as the rotation of the blades run lots faster than the other one.  That is another advantage of this type more.  It used to take about 2 1/2 hours to cut all the grass.  This should be done in about 1 1/4 hour now.

I didn't try it on the slopes of the roadsides until today (Thursday) to get the feel of it while cutting on slopes.  I took it out and just ran it along the south part of the roadside that I cut without turning the blades on.  I'd made one round on the roadside across from the house with the old mower, so I finished cutting out to the banks of that side of the road.  I really improved the feel by cutting all the grass on that side of the road.  It REALLY looks better over there.

So, now I can cut grass twice as fast as I could with the old mower so I won't have to spend as much time sweating in the near 100 degree weather.

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