Mantis XP Cultivator

Mantis XP CultivatorIs a mini-tiller not big enough for your needs, but you still want something lightweight and easy to move around? Mantis’ XP cultivator pairs the same innovative design that makes their smaller tillers the industry leader together with a reel that’s 50% wider than their other models. Add some accessories, and this tiller can be used for lawn and garden chores throughout the year.

Power

The XP is powered by a Honda Mini 4-Stroke engine. This diminutive motor delivers as much power as comparable two strokes, but it doesn’t need pre-mixed gas, it uses less fuel, it’s easier to start, and it has a wide powerband, so it doesn’t get bogged down easily. A clever oiling system keeps the inside of the engine lubricated no matter which angle it’s operating in. Its four-stroke design also gives it a long service life.

Like Mantis’ other tillers, this cultivator has its engine and transmission mounted directly over the tines to help push them down into the soil. The solid worm gear transmission has a low gear ratio to deliver the torque needed to cut through the toughest dirt at speeds up to 240 rpm.

Performance

At 16 inches wide, the XP’s tine reel is the biggest in Mantis’ lineup. It’s fitted with curved tines that dig into the soil better than standard flat tines, so there’s no need to fight the tiller to keep the tines in the ground. Mantis will replace worn tines for as long as you own your tiller. In their normal position, these tines have a maximum tilling depth is 10 inches. If the tines are flipped around, the back sides of the blades will skim across soil which is great for pulling out weeds.

This tiller weighs 35 lbs, which is far lower than comparable full-size models. That makes the XP easier to transport and lift into truck beds and trunks.

To reduce hand and wrist strain, this model is fitted with Mantis’ Sure Grip handles. These use over-molded grips that combine thick plastic grips with rubber inserts, just like the handle on an electric drill. This ergonomic design supports the hand and limits the transmission of shock and vibration. The handle is also adjustable, giving the XP a comfortable arm position for operators of any height.

Attachments

By itself, a tiller’s use is limited to a few big landscaping projects during spring and summer. By adding these accessories, you can use your XP for a variety of jobs through the year.

The furrowing attachment uses a pair of tines to dig 6 inch wide furrows for planting or making trenches to run underground irrigation hose and low voltage wiring. The plow attachment digs shallower furrows while tilling, preparing garden beds for vegetable planting.

The dethatcher and aerator attachments expose soil to increase water and air access and prepare turf for overseeding. The dethatcher replaces the tilling tines with a wheel-supported reel that has 60 spring steel tines, dethatching 15 inches of turf with each pass. The aerator attachment replaces tilling tines with flat-bladed aerator tines that slice through soil compacted by foot traffic, vehicles and construction equipment.

The border edger replaces the tines with a 6-inch wheel and spring steel edging blade to cut clean edges around driveways, sidewalks, flowerbeds, and bushes for a perfect finish.

The wheelset attaches to the rear of the tiller, making it easier to transport and allowing it to stand freely for maintenance and refueling. It also adds stability when using the tiller with the border edger attachment. Once the mount is in place, the wheels can be attached or removed in seconds.

Warranty

Mantis will replace bent or broken tines for the life of the tiller. The Mini 4-Stroke has a three-year warranty from Honda, while Mantis guarantees the rest of the tiller for 5 years.

Looking for More from a Tiller?

Shank’s Lawn Equipment is more than a Mantis dealer: we’ve helped homeowners and professionals with their lawn care equipment for over 30 years. We can help you find a tiller that fits your gardening needs and offer the parts and support you need to keep it running. We’re located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. To get here from Interstate 81, take Exit 10 to Marion and drive East one mile.

Not in the area? We can ship parts and accessories to your door whether you’re in the US. or Canada. To order, visit us at www.shankslawn.com.

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Selecting the Right Mower Blades

Exmark Mower Blades

Which mower blades should you be using with your mower? There are several designs out there, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s how you can tell them apart and choose the right ones for your needs.

Lift, Vacuum, and Cutting

A blade doesn’t just slice: it also acts as a fan, pulling the grass up to get an even cut. By adding extra lift, large clippings can be blown back up into the mowing chamber to be cut again. Modern mulching decks use this to slice grass into small pieces that can be digested by microorganisms in the soil. Due to their lower surface area, small clippings don’t catch as much wind and can fall through the blade and onto the turf.

A stamped deck can be shaped to have a round chamber that hugs the blade, increasing vacuum. Constructed decks have flat sides, creating turbulence and increasing the chamber size, decreasing vacuum. Most companies that sell mowers with constructed decks offer mulching kits that include baffles. These reshape the mowing chamber to give it more vacuum while still letting grass move across the deck toward the discharge chute.

By fine-tuning the shape of a blade, it can be built to suit specific types of mowing.

Side Discharge Blades

These blades have an almost flat profile that flings clippings out of the chute instead of throwing them up to be recut. This reduces the amount of grass being cut at a time, lowering the stress on the deck. These blades are lighter than other designs, increasing maximum blade speed and taking stress off of the spindle bearings. By moving clippings out of the deck as soon as possible, the mower is able to cut thicker, taller grass.

Mulching Blades

These blades use steep angles to move more air, increasing vacuum. Some manufacturers also add cutting surfaces to the back edges of their mulching blades. While this doesn’t help with the initial cut, it does help chop clippings down to size so the deck can handle thicker grass. Dixon takes this a step further with their Gator blades, offering three designs that let buyers choose between low weight and high tip speeds or more cutting power and a longer lifespan.

Multi-Use and Bagging Blades

The type of blade needed for bagging will vary depending on the mower design. Some decks need to be used with a low-profile side discharge blade to hurl clippings through the side discharge and into the hose that leads to the bags, while others are designed to mulch clippings, compacting them for more onboard storage.

Blades designed for bagging and either side discharge or mulching are commonly labeled “2-in-1.” These blades are designed with the deck in mind for the best bagging performance, using a profile for bagging and side discharge or bagging and mulching. “3-in-1” blades are designed for mulching, bagging, and side discharge, but covering all three modes means making some compromises to performance. If you have a choice between 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 blades, go for the 2-in-1 design.

Scag’s Marbain Blades

Most mower blades use a quench-and-temper process to create a hard surface on soft steel. This results in a blade that is flexible enough to absorb impacts while having a long-lasting cutting surface. Fisher Barton’s Marbain blades use austempering instead of quenching and tempering. This process takes longer, but it leaves the blade with a surface that’s harder than standard blades and is free of microcracks that can lead to failure. Scag worked with Fisher Barton to make these blades the OEM standard for their mowers. While they may be pricey, owners report lower cost of ownership and less maintenance thanks to these blades’ ability to hold an edge.

Get the Blades You Need for Your Mower

No matter which mower you use, Shank’s Lawn Equipment has the blades you need to get the best cutting performance. We’re an authorized dealer for several major mower brands including Dixon, Scag, and Woods, and we stock aftermarket parts from manufacturers including Oregon, Rotary and Stens. We’re located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. That’s one mile east of I-81 via Exit 10.

We also ship parts across the U.S. and Canada so you can get the blades you need for your mower with a few clicks of your mouse. To order, visit www.shankslawn.com.

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Exmark Stand-On Mower

Exmark Stand-On Mower

When it comes to stand-on mowers, it’s hard to beat Exmark’s Vantage S-Series. Standers give you a better view of the area you’re mowing and better traction than regular ZTRs, making them a great choice for hilly landscapes and obstacle-filled lawns. Exmark’s standers go a step further, adding features that make them more versatile including a walk-behind mode, an adjustable speed governor and a wide choice of engines including EFI and propane options.

Easier Control for All Situations

The operator stands on a rubber-padded platform with a weight compensation system. This lets them shift their weight when on hills to stay stable. The thigh pad offers plenty of support but won’t get in the way when folding up the platform for storage.

With the platform tilted up, the Vantage can be used as a walk-behind mower for low-speed maneuvers around landscape features. To make control easier in this mode or when tackling steep slopes, Exmark includes an adjustable front reference bar that puts a limit on the mower’s top speed. The PTO, starter and other controls are mounted at a slant ahead of the levers, making them easy to see and reach.

The mower is controlled just like a lap bar ZTR with a pair of levers mounted next to the grab bar. These operate 12 cubic inch Parker hydraulic motors connected to 10cc Hydro-Gear pumps. This system is able to propel these mowers to a top speed of 8 mph going forward and up to 4 mph in reverse.

Decks

All S-Series mowers come with an UltraCut deck. 36-inch models use two blades, while 48, 52 and 60-inch models use three blades.

The deck is constructed using a 10 gauge steel top plate paired with 7 gauge spindle reinforcements and 7 gauge side skirts. The blades mount to Exmark’s signature maintenance-free sealed spindles. The deck height can be set between one and 5 inches high in quarter inch increments. A spring assist system and long handle make it easy to adjust the height from the operator’s position.

Engines

Vantage standers with a 36-inch deck are powered by a Kawasaki FS Series producing 15 hp. This compact engine delivers commercial performance in a package that’s small enough for compact equipment like this mower.

A 22 hp Kawasaki FX Series is available for both 48 and 52-inch decks. The big brother of the FS, it adds an improved air filtration system that keeps the engine clean, even when working on dusty lawns or chopping up leaves.

Mowers with 52 and 60-inch decks are available with the Kohler Command Pro EFI. Its fuel injection system decreases fuel consumption and all but eliminates throttle droop. A 23 hp engine is used with 52-inch decks, while 60-inch mowers get a 25 hp engine. A 24 hp version that runs on propane is also available with both deck sizes for those looking to cut emissions and fuel costs.

Gas-powered mowers come with an 8-gallon fuel tank with a single cap and a float gauge. It’s mounted between the operator station and engine. Propane models use a 33.5 lb. tank mounted over the right fender.

Accessories to Fit Your Mowing Needs

A three-bushel bagger kit is available for all non-propane models. The bag fits directly over the side discharge, so there’s no hose to clog. The Micro-mulch kit comes with high lift blades and deck baffles to get maximum vacuum. This keeps clippings airborne so they can be chopped into small, digestible pieces. An operator-controlled discharge door is also available to switch between mulching and either bagging or side discharge on the fly. Want to make it easier to access the blades for sharpening? Exmark makes a jack and receiver specifically for these decks.

Exmark also offers accessories to tailor these mowers for specific needs. Plan on using your stander on hilly lawns? Adding a weight kit keeps the mower stable on slopes. Want to work early or late? Add a light kit. There’s also a trash container give the operator to throw garbage while mowing, while a cup holder keeps drinks on hand for hot days.

When You Need Professional Equipment, Turn to the Experts

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has been in the outdoor equipment business since 1984. We’re a certified dealer for Exmark and every engine manufacturer they work with, so we can provide you with the parts and support you need. We’re located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. That’s one mile east of I-81 via Exit 10.

We also ship parts and accessories for Exmark equipment across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.

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Echo Bear Cat SG340 Stump Grinder

Echo Bear Cat SG340 Stump Grinder

Most stump grinders are big machines that are built into trailers or attach to large tractors. While that’s fine for heavy work, they have a hard time reaching smaller stumps near buildings and in residential lawns. To reach these places, Echo Bear Cat makes the SG340. Thanks to a design that resembles a trimmer mower, it can get into these hard-to-reach places while still delivering plenty of cutting power.

Power

The stump grinder is powered by a 340cc Honda GXV engine. If you’re a professional landscaper or have an equipment rental business, this engine should be familiar as the GX series is by far the most popular small equipment engine on the market thanks to its reputation for unfailing quality. Its compact overhead valve designed isn’t just durable, it’s also built for low vibration and noise, making it a great choice for all day use. An automatic decompression system makes the engine easy to turn over, while Oil Alert shuts off the engine automatically if there isn’t enough lubrication to protect internal components. This engine is CARB certified, making the SG 340 legal to use in all 50 states.

The engine connects to the head’s 1.5-inch steel shaft using a double banded belt drive. This handles power transfer while absorbing shocks that could damage the crankshaft.

The 7-inch diameter cutting head has 12 hardened carbide steel cutting teeth. For of these blades are straight for making a pilot cut, while the other 8 are curved to dig into the stump. The head can reach a speed of 3,600 RPM.

Despite all this power, the SG340 is just 23 inches wide. This lets it get next to buildings and sidewalks where stand-alone and trailer-based grinders can’t reach.

Control

The SG340 has a wheel brake built into the rear left wheel. When engaged, it keeps the machine in place while still letting the operator pivoting the cutting head across the stump, trimming it down layer by layer. The handle has two bails: squeezing the top bail engages the brake, while the bottom bail engages the head.

On the left side of the cutting head, a steel shield deflects wood shavings, while the right side has a guard with a screen-covered opening that gives the operator a clear view of the head.

The wheels ride on sealed bearings and are fitted with foam-filled pneumatic tires, virtually eliminating maintenance while making this grinder easy to roll around.

Warranty

Echo Bear Cat guarantees the SG 340 for three years of consumer use, one year of commercial use and 6 months of rental use. Honda guarantees the engine for three years of commercial use.

When You Need Professional Equipment, You Need Shank’s

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has helped residential and professional owners with their outdoor equipment since 1984. We’re a certified dealer for most major commercial equipment brands including Echo Bear Cat and Honda Engines so we can provide you with the parts and service you need. Our shop is at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. To get here, take Exit 10 from I-81 and drive one mile East.

We also ship parts across the U.S. and Canada. If you need something for your Echo Bear Cat equipment, visit our website, www.shankslawn.com.

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Should You Get a Diesel Mower?

 Should You Get a Diesel Mower?Just a few years ago, there was a massive gulf between gas and diesel-powered mowers. Diesel engines offered more power and better fuel efficiency but came with a hefty price tag. Today, that gap is closing as manufacturers have introduced fuel injected gasoline engines. Are diesels obsolete, or do they still offer superior performance?

Fuel Efficiency

The energy created by burning fuel comes from breaking molecular bonds, and diesel has bigger molecules than gasoline. As a result, a gallon of diesel has more potential energy than a gallon of gasoline. All things being equal, a diesel engine should use about 10% less fuel than a gas engine.

Diesels are even more fuel efficient due to their design. Diesels use compression ignition, squeezing the air/fuel mixture until it gets so hot it explodes. These engines use a high compression ratio to get compression ignition with each power stroke. Gasoline engines use spark ignition, lighting the fuel to create detonation. The compression ratio in these engines is low to avoid compression ignition. A higher compression ratio results in improvements to the air/fuel expansion ratio, intake velocity, and exhaust velocity. While you may need to be a professional engine builder to understand how these factors work together, they all come down to one result: compression ignition engines are a lot more efficient than spark ignition engines.

On average, a 25 hp diesel will burn around one gallon of fuel per hour, while an equivalent carburetor-fueled gasoline engine will use 1.5-1.6 GPM and a fuel injected engine uses around 1.2-1.3 GPM. That means a diesel will use ¾ of the fuel of the best gas mower.

How much can you save on fuel costs? That depends on the price of fuel where you live. Here in Pennsylvania, diesel is usually $0.50 per gallon more than gasoline, but it’s only about $0.30 more if you cross the border into Virginia. The savings can vary widely depending on this price difference and the total price of fuel, but even in the worst case scenario, you’ll spend less fueling a diesel mower.

Fuel Storage

Old gasoline will either cause corrosion from gasoline blended with ethanol or varnishing from ethanol-free blends in carburetor-equipped engines, while fuel-injected engines are usually fine as long as the fuel is stabilized.

Water contamination and algae growth can be a problem with diesel, but only if the fuel is improperly stored. Fuel can be left in a diesel engine for up to 6 months before any preventative maintenance needs to be taken, and that’s usually limited to running the engine long enough to flush old diesel out of the fuel lines.

Performance

This is easy to overlook, but it’s the biggest benefit when buying a diesel mower.

Horsepower is a measurement of work over time, and in this case, “time” is RPM. Gasoline engines make power at higher engine speeds than diesels, so they have higher horsepower ratings than an equivalent diesel mower. As with gas mowers, you can expect companies to match the output of a diesel engine to their equipment, even though on paper a diesel may seem less powerful than a gas engine.

With a wider torque band and more low-end torque, a diesel-powered mower will be able to maintain blade speeds better than a gasoline engine. This is especially noticeable on mowers with 60 and 72-inch decks. Owners often report being able to climb slopes with the blades engaged where in the past their gas-powered mowers would only cut when driving downhill.

Reliability and Repair Costs

Fuel injection, better air filtration and improvements to lubrication and cooling systems have increased the life of commercial gas engines, but that also makes repairs more expensive. Diesels have always had higher repair costs, but they also have a reputation for long-term durability. It will be years before we understand how far new gas engines have come when it comes to reliability, but buying a diesel is a sure thing if you want to put as many hours on your mower as possible.

Price

In the past, a diesel could easily cost a third more than an equivalent gas mower but again added complexity has closed the gap. Depending on current sales and financing options, the premium for a diesel may not be that much. Factor in fuel savings and the return on investment can be far shorter than the term of the loan.

When You Need a Commercial Mower, Talk to the Experts

We’re a certified dealer for several diesel engine and diesel-powered mower manufacturers including Kubota, Scag, Exmark, Woods, and Yanmar. If you’re looking to add a diesel to your fleet or need your current mowers serviced, visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. Need parts? We ship across the U.S. and Canada. To order, go to our website, www.shankslawn.com.

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Summer Mower Tune-Up

Exmark Lawnmower

Is your mower not performing as well as it should? Even if you give it a full service when you pulled it out of storage, your mower may be due for some work to keep it going through the rest of the season. Here are some repairs that are easy to miss, but can make a big difference in how your equipment performs.

Before You Begin

The exhaust on your mower can stay hot long after the engine has stopped. Letting the engine cool for at least 20 minutes before working around the engine will keep you from getting burned. It’s also a good idea to disconnect the spark plugs will ensure the engine can’t start while you’re making repairs.

Clean the Deck

We covered blade sharpening in a recent article, but it’s only part of what your mower needs for good cutting performance. As layers of grass and dirt build up in the mowing chamber, there’s less vacuum to pull grass toward the blades, leading to an uneven finish and poor mulching performance.

Today, most riding mowers and a few walk-behind models have a built-in washout port. This directs water from a garden hose into openings on the underside of the deck that blast away grass buildup. This works the best if used shortly after mowing before the grass has had a chance to dry. If your mower doesn’t have a washout port, wipe out the deck with a moist rag. Heavy build-up can be removed using a wire brush or a putty knife. Never use a pressure washer on the deck, as this can force water into the engine on walk-behind mowers and into the spindles on riding mowers.

Clean the Air Filter

A dirty filter can seriously hamper engine performance. Paper elements can be cleaned by tapping them against a hard object to loosen any surface dirt, or they can be blown out with compressed air using a tip that limits air pressure to 30 psi. Using high-pressure air or tools that make direct contact with the filter medium can push dirt into the pores, clogging it up.

Check your engine’s owner’s manual on how to properly clean foam air filters. All filters can be cleaned by washing them in water and a mild detergent, but what you need to do after that will vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Honda’s filters should be saturated with clean engine oil, then squeezed out. Some Briggs & Stratton filters should be oiled, while others must be kept dry. Some older mowers and even a few current Subaru engines use an oil bath that needs to be topped up with fresh oil whenever the filter is cleaned.

Wipe out the air box before reinstalling the filter. If your engine has a cyclonic filtration box, be sure to clean the vanes of the intake thoroughly.

Grease and Lubricate

Adding grease to spindles, bearings and other components keeps them moving freely while flushing out old, dirty grease that can wear down metal components. Before you reach for your grease gun, clean out any gunk that has collected on the Zerk fitting. This keeps dirt from being pushed into the bearing and reduces backpressure that can blow out the seals in the gun. For most applications, any high-quality waterproof grease will work fine.

If the cables aren’t moving freely, check for kinks. It’s common for housings to get pinched between the joints on folding mower handles. Lubricate sticky cables with silicone spray, cable lube or non-detergent oil. This keeps them sliding freely and it forms a protective barrier that prevents rust.

Inspecting the Belts

Belts are used on riding mowers to transfer power from the engine to the deck and in self-propelled mowers to transfer power from the engine shaft and the transmission, located under the deck. If the belt is fraying or cracked, or it has stretched to the point that the idler pulley no longer engages, it’s due for a replacement.

Everything You Need for Your Mower

From small push mowers to commercial ZTRs, if it’s a lawn mower, Shank’s Lawn Equipment has the parts and service you need to keep mowing. We’re a certified dealer for most major mower brands including Wright, Exmark, Dixon, Scag, Troy-Bilt, and Murray as well as engine manufacturers including Briggs & Stratton, Honda, Kawasaki, Kohler, Subaru, and Tecumseh. Our shop is at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. To get here from I-81, take Exit 10. We also ship parts and accessories across the United States and Canada. To order, visit www.shankslawn.com.

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How to Sharpen a Lawn Mower Blade

Toro

If you‘re a professional landscaper, you probably sharpen blades weekly, but the rest of us may only think about it after the mowing season has ended. However, your lawn will better off if you sharpen the blades based on their performance: if you see the tips of the grass are jagged, the blade is so dull that it’s ripping off clippings, leaving your lawn open to infection. Here’s how you can get your blades performing the way they should.

Accessing the Blade

First, disconnect spark plugs. This will keep the engine from starting on accident, whether the starter is bumped, or pushing on the blade kicks the engine over.

On riding and wide area walk-behind mowers, raise the deck to the highest position. On walk-behind mowers, tilt the mower on its side with the carburetor facing up.

A blade removal tool clamps onto the edge of the deck, trapping the blade. This is the easiest, safest way to secure the blade when loosening the bolt. If you don’t have this tool, wedge a wood block between the blade and the deck to keep the blade from spinning.

Loosen the blade bolt. As you take off the blade and surrounding components, pay attention to their order and position. Some models will only have a washer on the blade bolt, while others will have a separate blade adapter that will slide off of the spindle. If the washer is curved, take note of its direction.

Some blades are clearly marked so you can tell which direction they should be installed. To make this easier, mark the underside of the blade with some paint or a bright permanent market so you can tell at a glance which side should be facing out when you put it back on the mower.

Inspection

Take a moment to check the blade for signs that it needs to be replaced. Mower blades are curved to create a vacuum inside the mower chamber; mulching blades having a higher curve than side discharge blades. If there are any other bends, then the blade should be replaced. The blade should also be replaced if there are signs of cracking. Eventually, severe wear will make the blade unusable. If it has a thin trailing edge, it’s worn out.

Sharpening

The blade needs to be as sharp as a butter knife to cut grass effectively. Sharpening it more won’t make it cut better, it will just wear down the cutting surface faster.

If you’re sharpening by hand, you’ll need a 10 inch or longer mill bastard file. Yes, that’s really what it’s called: a bastard cut has a medium grain that’s perfect for sharpening mild steel. Clamp the blade in a vise to keep it steady. The file will only sharpen when it moves across the blade from the tip of the file to the handle. By wearing gloves, you can hold onto the handle and the tip of the file, making it easier to maintain steady pressure and angle. Sharpen from the top side of the edge, moving toward the front of the cutting surface.

Blades can also be polished with a bench grinder. The principles are the same, but unless you’re certain of your skills, it’s best to rely on a tool that’s less likely to eat away the blade surface if you make a mistake.

A blade sharpening kit will include a sharpening stone designed to fit an electric drill. Clamp the blade in a vise and make several passes with the sharpener, sliding the blade between the stone and the backing plate.

Mulching blades sometimes have curved edges. These angles can be sharpened with smaller files, an angle grinder, or a rotary tool.

Balancing

For the best results, use a balancing tool. The center of the blade sits on top of this cone, letting you see the balance of the blade in three dimensions. Sand off the metal on the corner that points down. The blade is balanced when it sits level.

You can do a less accurate test by hanging the blade by a nail. As before, sand off the side that hangs low, and install the blade once it sits level.

Reinstallation

Install the blade in the reverse order you removed it. When installing the blade bolt, first tighten it down by hand, then tighten it with a wrench, and finally, use the torque wrench to tighten the bolt to manufacturer’s specifications. If the bolt isn’t torqued correctly, the bolt may unscrew if it’s too loose or it can snap off if it was overtightened.

Get What You Need for Your Mower from Shank’s

Do you need a new blade for your mower? Shank’s Lawn is a dealer for most mower brands including Woods, Scag, Exmark, Yard Machines, MTD, and Murray, so we probably have what you need in stock.
Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, one mile east of I-81 via Exit 10. Not in the area? We ship parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. To see what we offer, go to www.shankslawn.com.

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Fitting a New Style Clutch to Your BCS Tractor

Fitting a New Style Clutch to Your BCS Tractor

If you order a clutch for an older BCS tractor, it’s not going to look the same as the one currently on your equipment. In 2007, the company introduced the “New Style” clutch. This unit is backward compatible with tractors made as far back in 1995, but it integrates several components, making it easier to work on. Here’s how you can fit this new clutch to your old tractor.

Which Clutch Do I Have?

All BCS tractors made since 2007 came with the New Style clutch from the factory. If you have an older tractor and aren’t sure if the clutch has been replaced, look for a jam nut and set screw on the clutch next to the adapter plate. If it has one, it’s the older design. New Style clutches are compatible with 1995 and newer tractors.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • ¼ inch or 7/32 inch Allen head socket: BCS includes the 7/32 inch wrench which works with one-inch driveshafts that have a 3/8 x 24-inch thread set. All others use the more common ¼ inch bolt. Even if you can use the 7/32 wrench, you’ll still need a matching socket to torque the captive bolt.
  • Torque Wrench — The needs to measure torque in ft-lbs. and work with your Allen head sockets.
  • 4 mm Allen head wrench or socket
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Bearing driver — An appropriately-sized socket can be used in a pinch. It needs to push on the bearing without catching on the clutch body.
  • Hammer
  • Ratchet with a long extension
  • 13mm thin wall socket
  • 14mm socket

An impact wrench is useful, but not required. A pry bar may also be needed if the clutch is stuck on the shaft.

Parts You’ll Need

BCS includes all the parts you’ll need in their clutch kit. Before you start, make sure the following are in the box:

  • Tapered, split bushing
  • Spacer
  • Clutch
  • 7/32 inch Allen wrench

The key, lock washer and bearing that are removed from the tractor will not be needed when installing the new style clutch.

Removing the Old Clutch

There’s a jam nut on the side of the clutch closest to the engine. Turn the clutch so the nut is lined up with the notch in the adapter plate.

Place the straight edge on the inside flats of the L-shaped cone tabs at the end of the clutch. Use the measuring tape to measure the distance from this edge to the flat machined edge, not the inner raised edge, of the adapter plate. If the clutch is installed correctly, there should be 4.5 inches between the two points. If it isn’t, you need to check for damage or wear to the clutch and driveshaft.

Loosen the jam nut using the 13 mm socket, then loosen the set screw inside the nut using the 4mm Allen wrench. The clutch should slide off of the engine shaft. If it doesn’t, use a pry bar between the adapter plate and clutch.

Use the flathead screwdriver and hammer to pry out the crankshaft key. It should take just a couple light taps to get it out. Slide the lock washer off of the crank.

Use the 14 mm socket to remove the bolts on the adapter plate. With the plate’s back side facing up, use the bearing driver and hammer to knock out the bearing. Reinstall the adapter plate, making sure each bolt is fitted with a washer.

Clutch Installation

Slide the spacer onto the driveshaft, followed by the split bushing. Use the flathead screwdriver to spread the gap on the bushing to get it to go over the shaft. The spacer should be flush against the wide rear end section of the crank, and the bushing should be flush against the spacer.

Slide the clutch onto the crankshaft with the flats facing out. Use the Allen wrench to hand-tighten the captive bolt on the end of the clutch.

Check the distance between the clutch flats and the machined edge of the adapter plate. As before, the distance should be 4 ½ inches. It should be close to this measurement after the bolt is hand-tightened, and dead on after the bolt is torqued down.

Use the torque wrench to set the correct tightness on the captive bolt. The correct torque depends on the driveshaft size:

  • 3/8 x 42 – 25 lb-ft.
  • 5/16 x 24 – 14 lb-ft.
  • 7/16 x 20 – 40 lb-ft.

Recheck the distance between the flats and the adapter plate.

Turn the flats at the end of the clutch, so they look like an “L” from the side.

Get the Service and Parts You Need for Your BCS Walk Behind Tractor

Shank’s Lawn Equipment sells and services a wide range of professional outdoor equipment including smaller brands like BCS. If you need parts for your tractor or you want a professional to handle clutch replacements and other repairs, visit our shop, located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. That’s one mile east of I-81 from Exit 10.

Looking for parts and accessories for your BCS tractor? We can ship what you need to any address in the United States or Canada. To order, visit www.shankslawn.com.

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JRCO Turf Attachments

JRCO Turf Attachments

Making a lawn look good is one thing, but making it perform is another. When you have to take care of grass for sports, recovery times need to be minimal and consistency needs to be uniform to get a quality playing surface. JRCO’s turf attachments are designed for the needs of professionals who care for golf courses, sports fields and other areas where perfection is a must. Even if you don’t need this level of quality, the hooker aerator and electric broadcast spreader are great alternatives to traditional implements.

Hooker Aerator

Compaction is a major problem on fields, but hollow tine core aeration leaves a mess that isn’t just unsightly, it can hinder playing performance. Spike aerators don’t leave cores, but they aren’t as effective at relieving compaction and can actually increase it around the holes they create. The hooker aerator gets around these problems by using a method that bridges the gap between spikes and hollow tines. Its curved tines dig into the soil, hook onto it and pull it out. This leaves small, uncompressed holes and uncompressed soil that blends into the grass. With no hard cores left over, turf is ready for use immediately after aeration.

The benefits don’t stop there. This simple method of aeration is faster than using hollow tines, and lower force eliminated the need for a separate engine or heavy weights to push the tines into the soil.

Each tine is a half inch wide, 1 ¼ inch long and up to three inches deep, removing about as much soil as a 5/8 inch core aerator. 5 tines are built into a one-piece rotor, reducing maintenance. The 10 rotors are grouped in pairs, each with its own moving support. This lets the tines glide over rocks and other obstacles for a clean finish. The aerator mounts to the mower using two-point hitch. Together with support from swiveling caster wheels, the tines track the tow vehicle with no jackknifing. A pair of sight flags at the corners of the unit makes it easy to track from the operator’s position.

An electric actuator is built into the aerator. The switch for the motor can be positioned next to the operator, making it easy to lift and lower the tines when moving between lawns and over pavement.

Electric Broadcast Spreader

A broadcast spreader can be little more than a hopper and a spinning cone on a pair of wheels, but it takes more than that to get precision seeding. JRCO’s electric broadcast spreader mounts up front within view of the operator and has a sophisticated spreading system that works equally well with seeds, granular fertilizer, pelletized fertilizer and ice melting products.

No matter what type of salt is used, ice melt can be corrosive. To protect this device, every component that will touch the material is made out of stainless steel. The hopper holds up to 2.2 cubic feet or 120 lbs. of material. A vibrating agitator keeps material of any diameter flowing freely.

The spreader can be set from the base of the hopper to drop materials at a width of 5 to 24 feet. Once underway, the drop rate can be changed using an electronic speed control that mounts next to the operator. The electric motor is mounted to the base of the attachment, counterbalancing the weight of the hopper. While it is out in the open for cooling, the motor is protected from collisions by a 180-degree metal bumper.

JRCO makes three versions of this spreader. The 503 uses a foot-operated gate, which is perfect for mowers with mid-mount decks, while the 504 has a push/pull cable gate to put the controls within each reach on walk-behind and front mount mowers. Both spreaders are designed to work with a JRCO mount bar. The 504U is designed for use with UTVs. It has a longer push-pull cable and attaches using the company’s 1 1/4” hitch receiver mount. The wiring uses a quick disconnect, making it easy to mount and remove the spreader.

Get More from Your Mower

Shank’s Lawn Equipment is a certified dealer for JRCO along with most major mower manufacturers including Exmark, Wright, and Scag. If you’re looking for ways to major lawn care jobs easier or you need parts or service for your current equipment, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. To get here from Interstate 81, take Exit 10 to Marion.

We can also ship the OEM parts you need to maintain your JRCO attachments to any address in the US or Canada. To order, visit our website, www.shankslawn.com.

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Mantis Tillers

Mantis TillersMantis invented the mini tiller over 40 years ago, and since then their models have remained the best-selling on the market thanks to constant innovation. Today, their lineup includes models with tillers with two-stroke and four-stroke engines as well as plug-in and battery-powered electric motors, letting gardeners and landscapers get a machine that perfectly fits their needs.

Why Mantis?

Mantis has created a range of models that have full-size performance in a package that’s easy to manage in small gardens. Instead of relying on brute strength, these tillers use design features to the most out of their small engines to keep weight low.

Their 7000 Series uses tines with a curved shape that cuts down on bouncing and deflection, so they’ll dig into soil with less effort. The tines can be flipped to limit the depth to two to three inches, which is perfect for weeding and shallow cultivation. 3000 models have trowel tines that scoop as they cut, making them ideal for shallow cultivating. Mantis guarantees the tines on all of their machines for life.

The powerplant is placed directly over tines to help push them down into the soil. It connects to the tines using a solid metal worm gear transmission designed to last the life of the tiller.

7000 Series 2-Cycle

The classic Mantis mini tiller is the lightest at just 20 lbs, but the can still cut up to 10 inches deep, have 9 inches of tilling width and can hit a top speed of 240 RPM. Mantis makes a standard 2-Cycle as well as a Plus version with FastStart. This adds fuel directly to the ignition point using a fuel bulb, making the engine easier to start. Two strokes work best when running at top speed, so the throttle lever is built to fit flush with the handles, letting the operator use a comfortable hand position when keeping the throttle open. These handles can be folded down, allowing the tiller to be lifted and carried using a grab handle.

7000 Series 4-Cycle

Want the features of a 2-Cycle with the ease of use you get with a four-stroke engine? The 4-Cycle uses all the same components, but it’s powered by a Honda Mini 4 Stroke. Thanks to clever baffling in the crankcase, this engine will stay lubricated and fueled no matter how it’s tilted, just like a two-stroke. Opting for this engine increases the tiller’s weight to 24 lbs. The 4-Cycle XP comes with a 16-inch wide tine bar.

7000 Series Electric

This plug-in electric tiller is just one pound heavier than the 2-Cycle. It uses a 3-speed transmission with the same top speed as the other tillers in this model range thanks to a 540 watt, ¾ hp motor.

3000 Series Tiller Cultivator

Mantis recently introduced the 3000 series, an even smaller mini tiller that uses either A/C or battery power. It’s built for shallower work, tilling up to 8 inches deep and a width of 12 inches. Instead of separate handles, these tillers use a padded V-shaped loop handle with three height positions for a comfortable arm position for all operators.

The plug-in Tiller/Cultivator weighs in at 24 lbs. and uses a 9 amp motor. The cordless version weighs two pounds more with the battery installed. The 58-volt system can power the tiller for up to 30 minutes on a charge and takes just 90 minutes to fully recharge. Both corded and cordless motors have two speeds for a maximum speed of 300 rpm for cultivating or 200 rpm with added torque for tilling.

Warranty

The 3000 series is guaranteed for two years of residential use, while the 7000 series is covered for 5 years. Tines are replaced free for the life of the tiller. Honda guarantees the Mini 4 stroke for three years of residential use.

Large or Small, Shank’s Lawn Equipment Has What You Need

Shank’s Lawn Equipment sells and services most major brands and types of power equipment from mini tillers to larges commercial mowers. If you’re looking for a new tiller or need parts or service for your current equipment, visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. To get here from Interstate 81, take Exit 10 and drive East one mile.

Need parts or accessories for your tiller? We can ship what you need to any address in the U.S. or Canada. Visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.

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