Small Engine Maintenance - Tips and Rules of Thumb for maintaining a small engine.

  • Lawn Mower Air Filter – A clean lawn mower air filter will help keep dirt and debris out of your engine and keep your mower engine running efficiently. Rule of Thumb – replace after 50 hours of use. carries air filters replacing Kawasaki, Kohler, Briggs and Stratton, Echo, Shindaiwa, Stihl, Red Max and more.
  • Lawn Mower Fuel Filter - Rule of Thumb – replace after 100 hours of use.
  • Lawn Mower Oil filter & Small Engine Oil Filters – clean oil is crucial to a well running mower engine. Rule of thumb - change oil & filters every 50 hours. Recycle old oil properly. For 2-stroke engines use No Smoke 2-stroke oil.
  • Lawn Mower Spark Plugs - Fouled spark plugs prevent starting. Rule of Thumb – replace spark plug every 100 hours. Inspect plugs for black carbon deposits. Check the owner's manual for proper plug and gap recommendations. Select part number in (e.g. Autolite 216 spark plug).
  • Check and clean battery terminals.
  • Small Engine Fuel Treatment - An ethanol treatment with fuel stabilizer protects your lawn mower engine from corrosion caused by moisture in ethanol blended fuels. Rule of Thumb -add STA-BIL® fuel stabilizer to gas cans with every fill. (This product is safe for your lawn mower fuel pump and lawn mower fuel filter.)
  • Check Your Owner’s Manual - Always refer to the operator's manual before starting any maintenance on your equipment.

Zero Turn Mower Maintenance - Tips for maintaining a zero-turn mower.

  • See Small Engine Maintenance Tips
  • Lawn Mower BladesDepending on usage, blades may be replaced daily or weekly. With the Blade Grinder/Sharpener you can restore blades to a factory flat edge using a preset blade guide to maintain the proper angle for the best cut and edge life.
  • Lawn Mower Belts – Mower belts that are damaged or that slip on pulleys will affect cutting performance. Check belt for side wall damage, glazed or burned sidewall, or cracks. This signals a mower belt could fail and needs replacement.
  • Lawn Mower Pulleys - Check and clean tension pulleys and spindle pulleys. Noise or sluggishness could indicate bearing failure. Improper belt tension or grit could prematurely wear belts. A spindle pulley with wobble (play from side to side) indicates bearing wear and potential failure.
  • ZTR Lawn Mower Lubrication – Use dictates how often to grease. Most commercial lawn mowers have 10 to 20 grease fittings. Spindles, front pivot, and caster wheels should be done around once a month or more due to moving interior parts. Heavy use could dictate grease every day. Deck wheels approximately every 50 hours.
  • Hydro Oil and Filter - Hydrostatic transmission oil and lawn mower oil filter – Check your owner’s manual. Many newer systems are sealed. Many require a first change at 50 to 75 hours then changes every 300 hours thereafter.
  • Clean Deck Undercarriage - These parts play in cut quality and deck performance. Make sure the underside of the deck is clean and clear of debris. Tree branches and accumulated grass clippings should be removed to ensure the best results from your lawn mower.
  • Check Your Owner’s Manual - Always refer to the operator's manual before starting any maintenance on your equipment.


Daily Inspection Checklist for a Zero Turn Radius mower?

  1. Sharpen or replace lawnmower blades, if necessary
  2. Check engine oil level
  3. Assure gas cap is attached properly and air vent is clear
  4. Check throttle & choke cables (lubricate if necessary)
  5. Check battery & cables
  6. Check wheel bearings
  7. Grease unit based on scheduled usage
  8. Clean engine cooling fins signs
  9. Clean under the mower deck and overall unit
  10. Check belts, linkage, and pulleys
  11. Check anti-scalp gauge wheels & bolts
  12. Check lawn mower tire pressure (unless using flat free tires)
  13. Check deck level
  14. Make sure stabilized fuel is in engine


Troubleshooting Tips for Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) Mower

  • Mower is Smoking:
    • Check if oil is too full or spilled on hot engine parts. This is usually not serious.
    • If you see light colored smoke and have trouble keeping the mower running, it's time to see a professional.
  • Mower Won’t Start:
    • Check battery charge and connection.
    • Check fuel. Is fuel less than 30 days old? Is there water in the fuel tank?
    • Is spark plug in good condition and spark plug wire attached? If in doubt, replace it.
    • Is the lawn mower air filter clean? Dirty filters make it more difficult for the engine to draw air.
    • Is the lawn mower fuel filter clean? Is the fuel line clogged?
    • Check all visible wires and connections.
    • Check all in-line fuses.
    • Is undercarriage free from debris?
    • Review starting procedures in your Operator’s Manual.
  • Mower Is Not Cutting Grass Evenly:
    • Check lawn mower tire pressure. Uneven tire pressure creates an uneven cut. Air pressure also has a drastic effect on traction in dusty or wet conditions.
    • Check blade sharpness. Blades directly contact everything – grass, roots, rocks, sand, sidewalks. Dull or bent mower blades can drastically impact cut quality.
    • Make sure lawn mower blades are installed and tightened properly.
    • Check spring and belt tension.
    • Check the deck underside to ensure the mower deck is free of grass build-up and debris.
    • Make sure your machine is at full throttle.
    • Vary your mowing pattern each time you cut your grass.
    • Monitor your speed. Mowing too fast could cause grass stems to be left uncut.
  • Mower seems sluggish:
    • Are lawn mower tires inflated to proper PSI?
    • Has the throttle cable slipped and come out of adjustment? Is the operator using full throttle. Is the engine running at full RPM?
    • Is the drive belt damaged or stretched out and needs to be replaced?
    • Are tow-valves not fully closed?
    • Is linkage or control arm bent?
    • Does the drive system need to be serviced?


DIY Tips for Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) Mowers

  • Fixing a flat - Flats can be a problem. Tire sealant works great but be mindful of how much weight this adds to the wheel. Do not use sealants that make the tire hard. The tire is your shock absorber and you may put excessive load on the frame and drive system.
  • Cleaning your lawn mower - Clean your unit as often as possible but minimize the use of water. Water under pressure + detergent = corrosion and problems. Pressure washers clean great, but they also put water and detergents into places that can be very detrimental to your equipment. Use compressed air or blowers as much as possible. Also make sure you grease and lubricate the unit afterward if water was used.
  • Sharpening and balancing mower blades - Blade sharpness and balancing are important. Dull blades tear leaf tips, making them susceptible to dieback and pests. A dull blade also increases the load on the belts, bearings and engine. An unbalanced blade can cause vibrations and stress to the cutting deck. After every 8 to 10 hours of use, sharpen the blades and replace damaged lawnmower blades. Blade-balancing tools are inexpensive and readily available. Consider keeping an extra set of sharp, balanced professional lawn mower blades on hand.
  • Adjusting a new belt - Check a new belt three times in the first 24 hours of use and adjust if necessary. When first installed, a belt is fitting into the pulleys. If the belt loosens as it fits in, you may spin/burn the belt, which drastically reduces belt life.
  • Changing a Lawn Mower Blade – Make sure the gas tank is practically empty, remove the spark plug wire from plug, key from ignition, and set parking brake, stand your mower on its rear end and safely jack up to reveal blades, use wood block between blade and deck to prevent rotation, use the proper sized socket wrench (usually 3/4 or 5/8 socket) and turn the bolt counterclockwise to loosen, remove the blade bolt, spring washer and blade from the spindle, replace with new or sharpened blade of same type, check manual for exact torque for your blades, add anti-seize to bolts before reattaching, reconnect spark plug wire and adjust deck to proper height.
  • Should I change all the blades on my zero-turn mower at the same time? - Most commercial lawn mowers require two or three blades. When one blade breaks or needs replacement, it is best to replace all the blades at the same time. This will ensure an even cut and consistent blade wear.
  • How should I adjust my lawn mower deck anti-scalp wheels? - When the deck is at the height you want for cutting the grass, the anti-scalp wheels should be just above the ground (easiest to set up on a flat surface like concrete). The ground clearance should be between 1/4 and 3/8 inches.


Adjusting Anti-Scalp Wheels (Deck Wheels) on a Zero Turn Mower

  • How should I adjust my lawn mower deck anti-scalp wheels? - When the deck is at the height you want for cutting the grass, the anti-scalp wheels should be just above the ground (easiest to set up on a flat surface like concrete). The ground clearance should be between 1/4 and 3/8 inches.
  • How do anti-scalp wheels work? - The anti-scalp wheel is to prevent the deck from catching an uneven surface. If your anti scalp wheels spend more time rolling on the ground than idle in the air you may have an adjustment problem.
  • Should a mower deck be level? - Deck pitch is very important to get maximum productivity out of your mower. A deck should be level from side to side and the front should be slightly lower than the back
  • Why is my mower scalping? - Scalping occurs when the mower deck comes close to or hits the ground. Scalping is caused by mower deck mis-adjustment, unevenness in the lawn, or by mower deck bouncing due to mowing too fast. Check the mower deck and anti-scalp wheel adjustment, change the mowing path, or slow down.

Trees in August 2023

About 50% of the trees are doing good. Voles destroyed most of the other trees, but I am working on a plan to replant them.

More tree photos