Changing blades and winterizing your tractor

June 19, 2015

If your tractor is integral to your lawn-grooming routine, don't feel pressured to stow it away for the winter. Instead, learn to change its blades for the season.

Changing blades and winterizing your tractor

Blade-changing tips

Dull blades make the engine and belts work harder. They're bad for your grass, too. Instead of slicing off the grass cleanly, they leave a torn edge that takes longer to heal.

  • To change blades safely, remove the mower deck instead of working from underneath the tractor.
  • If the deck has wheels, it tends to roll away as you try to flip it over. Lock one wheel with a clamp. Lay the deck on a couple of wood blocks to prevent damage to the pulleys.
  • Lock the blades in place with a clamp and blocks. Don't simply wedge a block between the blade and deck; the blade can break free and cut you.
  • Use a 60 centimetre (25 inch) breaker bar and six-point socket to loosen the blade bolts.
  • Blade changes are less hassle if you keep a spare set handy. You can sharpen the dull ones in your spare time or take them in for professional sharpening.
  • Grass buildup on the underside of the deck reduces cutting efficiency. Scrape off big chunks with a flat pry bar and clean up the rest with a putty knife.
  • To avoid overtightening blade bolts, check the specs in the owner's manual and use a torque wrench.

Tip: Cutting tall grass is very hard on belts. If you've let the grass go too long between cuttings, mow in half swaths to reduce the load and extend belt life.

Three easy winterization steps

Before you put your tractor away for the winter, take a few minutes to prevent springtime troubles.

  1. Moisture inside an unused engine leads to corrosion. "Fogging" the engine — spraying an oily mist into each cylinder — prevents this. All you have to do is remove the spark plugs and blast in some aerosol fogging spray. Then reinstall the spark plugs.
  2. Storing a battery that isn't fully charged can lead to permanent damage, especially in cold weather. Connect the battery to a battery charger and charge it until you get a reading of 12.7 volts.
  3. Stored gas will slowly gum up the whole fuel system, and the repairs can be expensive. So add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank before winter. (Adding stabilizer to your gas can year-round is also a good idea.) But remember that stabilizers aren't effective in gas that contains ethanol. If you don't know whether the gas contains ethanol, run the engine until the tank is empty.
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