How to Keep the Engines In Your Equipment from Overheating

engine overheatingWhether it’s in a V-twin in a mower or a two-stroke in a string trimmer, the engines in your outdoor equipment can overheat when subjected to extreme summer temperatures. Left unchecked, metal parts will expand, increasing wear and possibly seizing, requiring a pricey rebuild. These tips will help you keep your equipment cool, extending the life of their engines.

Dirt

Most small engines are air-cooled. They use fins on the cylinder head and block provide the surface area needed to transfer heat from the engine to the outside air. As you use your equipment, these fins get covered in dirt. This reduces their ability to shed heat, increasing engine temperatures.

To remove dirt and dust, wipe down the fins with a stiff brush or a cloth to remove build-up. Never use water when cleaning your engine: it can get inside, causing rust and possibly hydro-locking. Some Kawasaki V-Twins have inspection/clean-out ports built into the cowling. Blowing compressed air through these ports cleans the cylinders.

Liquid-cooled engines transfer heat to coolant which passes through a radiator. This radiator has small metal fins that transfer heat to the air, just like an air-cooled engine. Kohler recommends cleaning the radiator on their Aegis engines every 100 hours of operation. They make cleaning kits that can reach the entire radiator without having to remove parts from the engine.

Air Flow

An air-cooled engine in a motorcycle sits out in the open, taking advantage of the bike’s high speeds to keep cool. The engines on your lawn equipment move slowly, and generators don’t move at all. This requires an alternate way to get air.

If you look into the screen on the front or top of your engine, you’ll see the flywheel is covered in small fins. It acts as a cage fan when the engine is running, drawing in air and pushing it across the surface of the engine. The cowling isn’t just there for looks: It helps direct this air.

To work effectively, the screen needs to be clear of grass and debris, while the cowling needs to be clean and intact.

Oil

Motor oil doesn’t just lubricate the engine, it helps transfer heat from the combustion chamber to the rest of the head and block. This helps the cooling system has an easier time removing it from the engine.

Air-cooled engines get a lot hotter than liquid-cooled engines. With the added stress of summer heat, this can burn off low viscosity conventional oils. To combat this, most manufacturers recommend using either a heavier oil or a synthetic at higher temperatures.

– Briggs & Stratton and Vanguard recommends checking the oil in their engines frequently if they’re used with 10W30 or SAE30 above 80°F due to increased oil consumption. Switching to a 5W20 synthetic or their 15W50 synthetic oil prevents oil burning at high operating temperatures.

– Honda recommends 10W30 in most of their engines for all temperature ranges.

– Subaru recommends 10W40 in their single cylinder engines.

– Kawasaki recommends 10W40 up to 100°F and 20W50 up to 115°F.

All commercial duty and high-end consumer engines made today have sensors that cut the ignition if the oil level is too low. However, it’s good practice on any engine to check the oil level before startup.

Coolant

The Kohler Aegis uses a liquid cooling system for better performance over a wide range of temperatures. Like the engine in your car, it needs the right amount of clean, fresh coolant to manage engine temperatures.

Before using your Aegis-powered equipment, check the overflow tank behind the radiator. Add coolant if the level is below the “Add” mark.

Kohler recommends changing the coolant in their Aegis engines every two years or 1,000 hours of operation.

Fuel

If the engine doesn’t get enough fuel, combustion chamber temperatures will skyrocket. A lean fuel mixture will leave a white, ashy film on spark plugs.

While bad seals on the carburetor can lean out the fuel mixture, most problems are caused by needle jets clogged by stale fuel. Fuel injected engines are less susceptible to fuel issues, but both Vanguard and Kohler still recommend using a fuel stabilizer with their engines.

When it comes to two strokes, getting the right ratio of fuel to oil is critical. Using too much oil won’t improve lubrication, but it will lean out the air/fuel mixture. This leads to rapid overheating that will shorten the engine’s life.

We Can Help Your Equipment Keep Its Cool

When you need parts, service or replacements for anything you use for landscaping, visit Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We’re an authorized dealer for a wide range of equipment and small engine manufacturers including Briggs & Stratton, Honda Engines, Subaru Industrial Power and Kohler Engines. Visit our shop at

We also ship parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit www.shankslawn.com.

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The New Scag Freedom Z

Scag Freedom ZDo you wish you could get something as reliable and easy to use as a commercial mower, but you have the budget and needs of a homeowner? The new Scag Freedom Z is a residential mower, but it has most of the features of their commercial models. By using high-quality components, a constructed deck, and thoughtful design, this ZTR makes mowing easy and trouble-free.

As Close as You Can Get to Professional Power

Both versions of the Freedom Z are powered by a Kohler 7000 Series Pro engine. Based on their Command Pro commercial engines, the 7000 Pro uses cast iron cylinder liners and a heavy-duty air filter to reduce engine wear. By Kohler’s own estimates, this engine should last twice as long as their previous residential engines. The similarities between this engine and the Command Pro also allows you to upgrade to professional grade oil filters and fuel filters.

This engine sends power to a pair of Hydro-Gear ZT-2800 transaxles. These integrate the pump and motor into a single case, eliminating the need for hoses. These units can propel the Freedom Z to a top speed of 8 MPH going forward, and up to 5 MPH in reverse.

Deck

Scag offers the Freedom Z with 48 and 52-inch fabricated decks. The deck is welded together from a combination of 10 gauge steel for the top plate, 11 gauge steel reinforcements around the spindles, and a 7 gauge skirt surrounding the blades. This makes the deck more resistant to impacts than the stamped steel decks found on most residential ZTRs. This deck also uses the all steel, maintenance-free spindles found on other Scag mowers. The operator can set the cutting height from 1 to 4.5 inches in ¼ inch increments without leaving the seat.

Over the years, wear and tear will shift the deck’s position. While most residential mowers only have one or two adjustments, the Freedom Z’s deck adjusts at all four corners to get the right angle and pitch for maximum cutting performance. Like Scag’s an Ogura GT PTO clutch transfers power to the deck. It has an adjustable air gap to maintain engagement as the clutch face wears down.

Comfort and Convenience

The operator sits on an adjustable bolstered seat with standard fold-up armrests and an extra large foot plate. A fixed ROPS bar and seatbelt comes standard.

To the right of the seat, there’s a 6.5-gallon fuel tank with large filler neck for easy filling. The battery box and hydraulic oil reservoir are mounted on the left side tank for easy access. A digital hour meter comes standard. 20 x 10 rear tires and 11 x 6 front caster tires spread the load for a smoother ride and minimal turf damage.

Accessories

If you want to mulch, all you need is a steel mulch plate to cover the chute. However, for the best mulching performance, you’ll want to add the Hurricane mulching system. High lift blades and baffles increase vacuum, giving the mower stamped deck performance when mulching.

Want to pick up grass clippings? Scag offers a 7-bushel capacity grass collection system. Looking for the perfect finish? The Tiger Striper kit adds rollers to the back of the ZTR for that ballpark look.

ZTRs aren’t known for towing, but with the trailer hitch, the Freedom Z can pull up to 250 lbs. This is perfect for using utility trailers and broadcast spreaders.

Need more time to mow? There’s a halogen light kit for working in low light conditions.

Need to save space when storing or transporting your ZTR? It can be fitted with the same foldable ROPS used on other Scag mowers.

Warranty

Kohler guarantees the 7000 Series Pro for three years with no hour limit. Scag guarantees the rest of the Freedom Z for one year of commercial use, or up to three years or 500 hours of residential use, whichever comes first.

We’re Serious About Lawn Care

Since 1984, Shank’s Lawn Equipment has been the choice for professionals and homeowners alike when it comes to outdoor power equipment. We’re a full-service dealer for Scag, Hydro-Gear, and Kohler, which means we can service everything on these ZTRs. If you’re looking for a new mower, or you need parts or repairs on your Scag, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

We also ship OEM parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit www.shankslawn.com.

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Turf-Teq Equipment: Commercial Power in a Compact Size

Turf Teq EquipmentWhen it comes to landscaping equipment, there’s a large gap between lightweight residential equipment and tractor-powered equipment intended for professional use. Turf Teq fills that gap with their line of landscaping equipment. By combining a two-wheel tractor chassis with professional quality attachments, these machines work fast while still being able to get into tight spaces.

Attachment or Stand-Alone

The multi-use machine is built around a power unit with a 13 HP Honda GX390 and a hydrostatic transaxle with a locking differential. This gives the machine the power to handle attachments, the traction to climb steep slopes, and a tight turning circle for maneuvering around landscape features. All attachments use the same handle-mounted controls. The hydrostatic transmission is operated with a single lever on the right handle. Closing it against the handle moves the unit forward at speeds up to 4.5 MPH, while pushing the top part engages reverse. Angle and clutch controls are mounted on the left handle. A foot pedal locks and unlocks the differential, making it easy to switch between straight tracking and easy turning.

Turf-Teq doesn’t sell the multi-use machine as a stand-alone unit. Instead, they offer it as an option when buying their equipment. The company also offers stand-alone units built on the same platform as the multi-use machine. By eliminating the attachment system, they’re able to offer their equipment at a lower cost. This is a great option if you rent equipment or only need one tool.

Whether you choose a single use machine or a multi-use machine, Turf Teq offers 5 tool options that let you use their equipment throughout the year.

Power Edger

This is the only self-propelled edger and bed opener on the market that operates while moving forward. This makes it easy for operators to cut a clean line when edging. With a maximum speed of 170 feet per minute when grooming and 150 FPM when cutting, it’s also three times faster than competing edgers.

The power edger is perfect for creating and redefining beds, as well as cutting and contouring edges around beds, sidewalks and tree circles. It also cuts trenches up to 2.5 x 7 inches for installing underground cabling and irrigation lines. The head has 5 inches of blade adjustment, and there are 9 blade profiles available, making it easy to get the exact cut you want.

Power Broom

A power broom is the perfect tool for cleaning dirt off of sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, but it can do so much more. When used on grass, it pulls up thatch. When used on artificial turf, the broom safely lifts matted grass. The brush also gets in between the spaces around pavers, sweeping out debris or depositing sand for finishing. In the winter, the broom can pick up the last bit of snow, stopping the formation of ice.

The rotary broom on this machine is 46 inches wide and 18 inches in diameter. The brush pivots 15 degrees left and right, making it easy to push aside debris.

Power Rake

A 36-inch wide drum lets this rake get into areas that are out of reach for larger tractor-mounted units. Welded carbide teeth can dig and scuff soil for seeding, and the height adjustment allows the drum to be kept above the surface to rake without disturbing the turf. Like the power broom, it can operate at an angle to push rocks and soil around for landscaping. The power rake can also mix soil, windrow, level high spots, dethatch and cut slots in the soil for overseeding.

Brush Cutter

This attachment handles brush and thick vegetation that are too thick for standard mowers. The cutting head slices saplings up to two inches in diameter. It’s surrounded by an 11 gauge steel deck and front bumper that shrugs off impacts with trees, buildings, and fences. This deck mounts 12 inches to the left of the power unit, making it easy to cut around fences and get close trees without having to dodge branches.

Power Plow

The oscillating plow blade follows surface contours to pick up the maximum amount of material. This blade can handle snow up to one foot deep, and it works great for grading gravel and leveling soil. An auto-resetting trip spring keeps the plow from striking pavement, protecting the operator and preventing damage to pavement edges.

Get the Power You Need for Professional Landscaping

Shank’s Lawn Equipment is an authorized dealer for Turf Teq and Honda Engines, so we can provide you with complete parts and support you need for your equipment. If you’re looking to add to your lawn care arsenal, or you need help with your current equipment, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

We also ship OEM parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. If you need something for your machine, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.

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BCS Front Mount Tractors

BCS Front Mount TractorsDo you have several landscaping jobs throughout the year, but don’t want to buy a piece of equipment for each one? Are you not into gardening? BCS’s front mount tractors may be exactly what you need.

These walk-behind tractors are compatible with the company’s front mount attachments, making them perfect for mowing, clearing snow and many other common tasks. By excluding the rear mount system, these two-wheel tractors can’t use graders or tillers. However, this also makes them simpler, lighter and cheaper than the company’s standard tractors.

Model 620 Max

This small tractor is perfect for light field mowing and landscaping work. It’s powered by a Honda GX240 that produces 8 HP. That puts it in line with the Model 722 tractor. The transmission has three working speeds: 0.8, 1.8 and 2.7 mph. It also has a transport gear that gives the 620 a top speed of 8.3 mph.

The 620 Max is compatible with these attachments:

– 30″, 40″ and 45″ sickle bar mowers
– 22″ lawnmower
– 30″ and 40″ power sweepers
– 24″ and 28″ snow thrower
– Log splitter
– Chipper/shredder
– Mowing Sulky

Most attachments will work with the 660 Max without modification. However, the log splitter requires the power cradle kit to increase PTO speed. The snow throwers require either a PTO extension or quick hitch to connect to the tractor.

Model 660 HS

The 660 HS delivers maximum power to handle BCS’s largest front mount attachments. Its Vanguard V-Twin produces 16 HP, three more horsepower than the next most powerful tractor, the Model 750. This engine drives both a PTO for attachments and a hydraulic pump that drives other tractor functions. Hydraulic steering allows precise inputs and low operator effort, while the hydrostatic transmission allows infinitely variable speed control without slowing down attachments. BCS’s exclusive PowerSafe hydraulic clutches are installed on each drive hub. These automatically stop the tractor from rolling backward on hills.

To best match your local terrain, the 660 HS is compatible with a range of wheel options:

– Standard tractor wheels and tires
– Wheels with high flotation tires to drive over sand, mud and soft soil
– Steel wheels for better grip on soft soil
– Cage wheels paired with standard wheels and pneumatic tires for better grip on hills
– Spiked steel wheels for maximum grip on steep slopes and sandy soil
– Tracks for maximum traction on all surfaces including ice and snow

The 660 HS is compatible with the following attachments:

– 40, 45 and 53 inch sickle bar mowers
– All dual action sickle bar mowers
– 30 and 35 inch flail mowers
– 32 inch brush mower
– 30 inch combo mower
– 38 inch lawn mower
– Hay rake
– 40 and 48 inch power sweepers
– 33 inch two stage snow blower
– 40 inch snow blade
– Chipper/shredder
– 36 inch dozer blade
– 26 inch dethatcher
– Buddy cart
– 3.6 and 4.0 pressure washers
– 50 and 85 PSI water pump
– Mowing Sulky

All attachments require a two bolt 750 bushing. The pressure washers and 50 PSI water pump also require a power cradle kit. The snow throwers require either a PTO extension or quick hitch.

For Big Jobs or Small, Shank’s Has the Equipment and Support You Need

If you’re looking to buy a BCS tractor, add some attachments, or have your tractor serviced, come see the experts at Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We have helped local residential and commercial customers with their outdoor equipment for 35 years. 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.

Need parts for your BCS America tractor? We can ship what you need to any address in the USA or Canada. To order, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.

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Mantis Electric Tillers: Are They Right for You?

Mantis Electric Tillers: Are They Right for You?Mantis doesn’t just dominate the mini tiller market, they invented it. Over the years, they’ve updated their line with more powerful two-strokes, lightweight four-strokes, a plug-in model and a new cordless tiller. Are the electric models able to stand up to their gas-powered counterparts?

How do Electric Tillers Compare to Gas Models?

Mantis electric mini tillers don’t seem that different gas tiller, but there are major differences in how they perform.

Electric tillers aren’t as powerful as gas tillers on paper, but it’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison. While the peak output of the electric tillers is lower than gas tillers, electric motors make maximum torque as soon as they start spinning. This helps the tines cut through roots and compacted soil far better than the spec sheet suggests. In real-world conditions, most users won’t see much difference in performance.

Both the corded and rechargeable models are only compatible with standard tines. If you want something that can cut extra wide rows or do other jobs like dethatching, you’re better off with a gas tiller. However, if you’re only looking to till and cultivate, there are a lot of reasons to consider electric.

Electric tillers are easy to use. They have zero starting issues: just close the throttle, and the tines will start spinning. An electric motor also doesn’t have a piston moving up and down, so it doesn’t vibrate like a gas engine. You’ll still need to lubricate parts of the machine, and the tines are still susceptible to wear and damage. However, there’s no need to add gas, change the oil, replace spark plugs or clean air filters.

Weight is in line with Mantis’ other mini tillers, which means these models are easy to transport and lift over low fences and into raised beds. They use the same metal worm gear drive found in the company’s gas-powered tillers, while the tines are optimized for electric power.

The 3350 and 3558 are both good choices for landscaping narrow spaces or as a compliment for a larger tiller. For most home gardeners, it makes sense to rent a large tiller to create new garden plots, then maintain the soil with a small electric tiller.

3550 Corded

The 9 amp motor provides maximum power without needing an expensive extension cord rated for mower or generator use. It also won’t flip the breakers when you’re using outdoor outlets around your home. A built-in extension cord holder lets you wind and unwind the cord as needed, just like using a vacuum.

The 3550’s motor operates at two speeds: 360 or 310 RPM. The motor drives 16 tines, giving the 3550 a total tilling width of 12 inches.

The wheels have three positions, lifting the tines high for transport, skimming the surface for cultivation, or digging soil up to 8 inches deep. The handle has three positions to suit operators of any height. It also folds down for storage. Foam grips make the tiller comfortable to use and help absorb bumps from impacts with rocks and other obstacles.

The 3550 weighs 24 lbs. Expect to add two pounds for every 25 feet of extension cord wrapped around the cord holder.

3558 Cordless

Want the flexibility of an electric tiller without having to deal with cords? This new battery-powered tiller uses the same 58-volt system as Mantis’ new rechargeable string trimmer and leaf blower.
Power comes from a 2.5 amp, 60-watt motor with 200 and 300 RPM drive modes. One battery can power the 3558 for up to 30 minutes per charge. It takes just 90 minutes to recharge the battery with the optional 2.5 amp charger.

Many of the features found on the 3550 carry over to this model. It has the same 16 tines, 12-inch tilling width, and maximum 8-inch tilling depth. The foldable, adjustable handle carries over, too. The 3558 weighs 26 lbs. with the battery installed.

Get the Tools You Need for the Garden You Want

Shank’s Lawn Equipment is a certified dealer for landscape equipment manufacturers ranging from Mantis to Woods. That means we offer everything from these lightweight electric tillers to industrial grade farm equipment. To find a tiller that’s a good fit for your garden, visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway, Chambersburg, PA. That’s one mile East of I-81 from Exit 10/Marion.

Need to fix something on your Mantis tiller? Want to get more use out of your gas model? We ship OEM parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit us at www.shankslawn.com.

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Fixing Common Issues on Wright Stander Intensity Mowers

Fixing Common Issues on Wright Stander Intensity MowersAre you having trouble getting your Wright Stander Intensity mower to track straight? Is it not leaving the finish you want when you cut grass? Here’s what you need to know to adjust the hydraulic motors and deck to get your ZTR mowing like it should.

Neutral Adjustment

When parked on a flat surface, the mower should not move when the parking brake is off, the engine is at full throttle and the levers are untouched. If it does, do the following:

1. Lift the rear of the mower onto jack stands so that the drive wheels are off of the ground.
2. Look at the side that is moving when in neutral. Follow the handle down to the hydraulic pump. Loosen the ¼ inch Allen bolt directly below the spring.
3. Start the engine. Rotate the “RTN” knob behind the Allen bolt until the wheel stops spinning.
4. Shut off the engine. Tighten down the Allen bolt.

Tracking

Checking Tracking
1. Check the tire pressure for both rear tires. They need to be equal.
2. Drive the mower across a level surface at full throttle with both control levers pushed forward all the way. The mower should stay straight.

Adjusting Tracking
1. Park the mower and shut off the engine.
2. Loosen the jam nuts on the rods that connect to the hydraulic pumps.
3. Turning the rod adjusts how far it opens the valve on the hydraulic pump. If the mower turns to the side you’re working on with the levers fully engaged, spin the rod counter-clockwise to lengthen it and open the valve more. If the mower turns in the opposite direction, turn the rod clockwise to close the valve.
4. Tighten the jam nuts. Check the tracking again and repeat the previous steps if the mower is still not tracking straight.

Getting Maximum Ground Speed

The valves on the hydraulic pumps need to open fully to reach the mower’s maximum speed.

1. Park the mower and shut off the engine.
2. Loosen the jam nut on the rods that connect to the hydraulic pumps.
3. Rotate each rod counter-clockwise one turn and push the control lever forward. Repeat until pushing the control lever forces the rod into the internal pump stop.
4. Rotate each rod clockwise one turn. Tighten the jam nut.

After making this adjustment, check the mower tracking.

Moving the Stander Intensity When it Won’t Start

Open the hydraulic bypass valves by turning the levers next to the pump inlet hoses counter-clockwise two turns. This disengages the drive system, making the mower easy to push.

Addressing PTO Problems

1. Shut off the engine, remove the key and let the mower cool off. Check the belt and the wiring to the PTO clutch.
2. Disconnect the clutch wire and turn on the blade switch. Check for power from the harness. The blue wire that goes to the red clutch wire sends power from the PTO switch, while the black and orange wire is the ground. If there is no voltage, check the relay, operator presence switch, and PTO switch.
3. If there is power going through the wires, check the clutch. Replace the clutch if there’s a large gap between the plates. Sometimes, a worn clutch will work when cold, but as it heats up, resistance increases, preventing the magnetic coil from engaging the mechanism.
4. If the clutch looks OK, check the resistance on the clutch wiring. It should be around 1.84 ohms. Lower resistance indicates a shorted coil, while a high or infinite reading is caused by an open or burnt out coil. Either way, the coil needs to be replaced.

Deck Pitch and Side-to-Side Adjustment

For the best performance, the front of the deck should be ¼ inch lower than the rear, and the deck should be level from side to side.

1. Park the mower on a flat surface. Check the tire pressure, making sure both tires are equal.
2. Set the deck pin and lower the deck to a cutting height of inches.
3. Measure the front and rear of the blade tips. The front should be three inches from the ground, and the rear 3 1/8 to 3 1/4” inches from the ground.
4. To adjust the height, loosen the deck lift bracket nuts, then use a ½ inch ratchet and extension to raise or lower the lift arm. Tighten the nuts to 45 ft-lbs.
5. Remeasure the blade tips and readjust the height as needed.

Need Help with Your Wright Mower?

Shank’s Lawn Equipment is an authorized dealer for Wright Manufacturing, which means we don’t just sell these mowers, we also able to offer the parts and service you need to keep your stander running. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway, Chambersburg, PA.

We also ship OEM parts for Wright and many other brands of lawn care equipment across the U.S. and Canada. If you need something for your mower, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.

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Wright LG Stander Maintenance

Wright LG Stander MaintenanceDoes the steering on your large frame Wright Stander not feel right? Do you want to make sure the hydrostatic drive will last as long as the rest of the mower? These tips will help you keep your LG Series mower operating reliably and consistently.

Maintenance Schedule

Daily: Check the engine oil, air filter, blades, deck and tire pressure.
Every 100 hours: Clean the engine cooling fins.
Every 500 hours or annually: Replace the hydraulic oil and filter. Check the idler arms, spindles, caster pivots, wheel bearings, and belts for wear. Inspect the fuel hose, tank and tank grommets for signs of cracking. Make sure all electrical connections are solid and free from corrosion.

Check the included engine manual for powerplant maintenance.

Adjusting Neutral

If the mower moves forward or backward when the control levers are in the center position and the parking brake is off, adjust the Return-to-Neutral (RTN) setting on the pump linkage:

1. Lift the rear drive wheels off of the ground using a jack and jack stands.
2. Loosen the ¼ inch Allen bolt just above the base of the lever on the pump.
3. Rotate the linkage labeled “RTN” on the side with the wheel that turns when in neutral.
4. Tighten the Allen bolt.

Speed and Sensitivity Adjustment

The pump levers have two holes for connecting to the levers. Using the inner hole makes the controls faster while using the hole at the edge of the linkage decreases ground speed by 25-30% and allows finer movements.

1. Stop the engine.
2. Remove the bolts connecting the control rods to the pump levers.
3. Reconnect the levers using the alternate holes.
4. Check the tracking adjustment. (See below.)

Tracking Adjustment

To check the tracking:
1. Make sure both rear tires have the same air pressure.
2. Operate the mower on a level, paved surface at maximum speed. If the mower doesn’t stay straight, adjust the tracking.

To adjust the tracking:
1. Park the mower and shut off the engine.
2. Loosen the jam nuts on the steering rods where they connect to the hydraulic pumps.
3. Adjust the rod length. If the mower veers to the right, turn the right rod counter-clockwise or the left rod clockwise. If the mower veers to the left, turn the right rod clockwise or the left rod counter-clockwise.
4. Tighten the jam nuts.

Belt Adjustment and Replacement

1. Shut off the engine, remove the key and wait for the mower to come to a complete stop.
2. Remove the deck cover.
3. Insert a ½ inch ratchet and extension into the square hole in the idler arm. Turn the arm to relieve pressure on the belt. Slide the belt off of the pulleys.

If you are installing a new deck belt, follow the previous directions in reverse order. Continue if you’re replacing the drive belt.

4. Lift the mower onto jack stands.
5. Insert a ½ inch ratchet and extension into the square hole in the idler arm. Turn the arm to relieve pressure on the drive belt. Slide the belt off of the pulleys.
6. Follow the previous directions in reverse order to fit the new drive belt.

Bleeding Air from the Hydraulic System

If there is air in the system, your mower may lose power, and the pumps can overheat. Air may enter the hydraulic system if a hose is leaking, or a major component of the drive system was replaced.

1. Fill the reservoir with hydraulic fluid.
2. Lift the rear drive wheels off of the ground using a jack and jack stands.
3. Start the engine. Open the bypass valves, and slowly move the levers forward and back 5-6 times.
4. Close the bypass valves. Move the levers back and forth 5-6 times.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all air has been purged from the system.
6. Top up the fluid reservoir.

Lubrication

Use No. 2 lithium grease on the front casters. All other bearings are sealed.

Blades

The blades can be accessed by shutting off the engine, lifting the front of the mower and supporting it with jack stands. When installing the blades, torque the bolts to 70-80 ft-lbs.

Spring Platform Adjustment

The position of the platform changes the stiffness of the supporting suspension. Moving the platform rearward increases stiffness.

1. Loosen the three bolts on the center of the platform.
2. Slide the platform to the desired position.
3. Tighten the bolts with an impact wrench. These bolts will spin if you attempt to tighten them with hand tools.

When You Need Help with Your Stander, Go to Shank’s

Shank’s Lawn Equipment is more than a Wright dealer: we’ve been selling and servicing outdoor equipment since 1984, so we know these machines inside and out. If you need help with your machine, or you’re looking for a new mower, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. We also ship parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit www.shankslawn.com.

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Getting Great Results from Spring Fertilizing

spring fertilizingThere’s more to applying fertilizer than just grabbing a bag from your local home improvement store and sprinkling it on your lawn. These tips will help you pick the right fertilizer mix and apply it correctly to get the best results.

Fertilizer Nutrients

There are plenty of fertilizer blends aimed at different needs from spring planting to winter hibernation, but nothing will get you better results than basing your choices on a soil test. The sooner you submit one to your local extension office, the sooner you’ll be able to lay down fertilizer and amendments to get the right balance of soil nutrients to support your lawn.

Plant nutrients can be broken down into three main groups: N-P-K, secondary nutrients, and trace nutrients. “N-P-K” stands for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The amounts of these nutrients are written as three percentages separated by dashes. If the label on a 100 lb. bag has “20-5-10” printed on it, that bag contains 20 lbs. of nitrogen, 5 lbs. of phosphorus and 10 lbs. of potassium.

Secondary nutrients include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. These nutrients help build cell membranes, chlorophyll, and proteins. While not needed in high amounts, they’re important to plant growth.

Plants also need trace amounts of zinc, boron, copper and other micronutrients. Having too much of these nutrients won’t hurt plants, so they’re sold together as a micronutrient amendment or fertilizer blend. Micronutrients are readily available in most soil types outside of coastal areas.

Soil pH

Even the richest soil won’t be able to feed plants if it’s too acidic or alkaline. For most plants, the soil pH needs to be between 6.0 and 7.0. Lime and wood ash raises pH, while sulfur or aluminum sulfate will lower it. These amendments can be applied separately from fertilizer, or you can buy fertilizers that have them built in so you can balance the pH and feed plants with one application. Either way, they should be applied to freshly aerated lawns to help them reach deep into the soil.

Aluminum sulfate is high in nitrogen, so it’s used in fertilizer blends to both feed plants and reduce soil alkalinity. If you only need to add a small amount of nitrogen, look for a blend or amendment based on sulfur. Lime is available in three forms: regular lime only adjusts pH, calcitic lime also adds calcium to the soil, and dolomitic lime adds magnesium to the soil.

Like fertilizer, these amendments can harm your lawn if too much is used. Wood ash can leave behind lye and salt, while excessive aluminum sulfate will bleach grass.

Weed and Feed, or just Feed?

“Weed and feed” fertilizers contain herbicides to feed your lawn and stop common weeds with a single application. However, these chemicals can also inhibit the growth of new grass. If you plan on overseeding your lawn, use a standard fertilizer or wait a few weeks before planting new grass.

Fertilizer Application Types

Fertilizers are available in organic and synthetic formulas and may be granular or liquid. Each version has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Organic fertilizers release slower than synthetic fertilizers. As a result, synthetic formulas produce results faster, but organic formulas are less likely to cause fertilizer burn.

Granular fertilizer can be spread by a broadcast seed spreader, while liquid fertilizer must be spread with a sprayer. Moss requires its own specialized spreader that chops up clumps and distributes them on the lawn. High-speed equipment including mower attachments and stand-alone motorized units are almost always designed for liquid application. Liquid fertilizers allow foliar absorption. By drawing the liquid nutrients through the leaves, the fertilizer can act up to 20 times faster than ground applications.

Tips for Laying Down Fertilizer

Whether you use a drop or broadcast spreader, it should be calibrated to ensure even application. Each opening on a drop spreader or nozzle on a liquid broadcast spreader should have a spray pattern that reaches the center of the adjoining opening or sprayer.

When applying, use half the recommended drop rate and make two passes perpendicular to each other. This provides even coverage that reduces fertilizer burn and untreated spots that can lead to a discolored lawn.

When You Need Equipment and Parts, Talk to the Experts at Shank’s

Shank’s Lawn Equipment carries a wide range of lawn care equipment including Exmark ZTR broadcast spreaders and JRCO sprayer attachments for professional landscapers as well as Shindaiwa and Echo backpack sprayers for pros and homeowners. If you’re looking for new equipment or need service and parts for your current lawn care tools, visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway, Chambersburg, PA. That’s one mile East of I81 from Exit 10/Marion.

We also ship OEM parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit www.shankslawn.com.

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Effective Strategies for Managing Weeds on Your Lawn and in Your Garden

Effective Strategies for Managing Weeds on Your Lawn and in Your GardenBindweed, crabgrass, chickweed, dandelions, and other weeds require individual strategies to eliminate, but there are ways that you can make it harder for all of these plants to take root. These tips will help you stop the spread of weeds and make them easier to remove from your lawn or garden.

Don’t Dig

Usually, only the seeds in the top two inches of the ground will sprout weeds, but if you cultivate, deeper seeds will be brought to the surface where they can grow. Try not to break ground unless it’s absolutely necessary, and expect to fight off weeds if you create a new garden plot or dig holes for fences and landscape features.

Use Ground Cover

Mulch makes it hard for new weeds to reach the surface, organic mulch supports crickets and beetles that will eat weeds, and nutrient-rich ground cover stops the growth of weeds that thrive in poor soil conditions. When applying mulch, keep the layer less than two inches thick to let oxygen reach the root systems of established plants.

Likewise, a thin layer of thatch can make it hard for new seeds to sprout, while boosting the activity of worms and insects that will feast on problem plants. However, too much can cause growth and nutrient problems. If the layer is over ½ inch thick, or you need to overseed, the thatch layer should be removed. Excessive thatch is caused by soil compaction and alkaline soil. Once these issues are corrected, your lawn should form a thin, protective thatch layer requiring minimal care.

Make Physical Weed Removal Easier

If the ground is soft from rain or watering, it will make physically removing weeds a lot easier. An old fork is perfect for pulling out tough roots. Keep a plastic sheet nearby to collect the weeds and dispose of them before they can reconnect with the soil.

Can’t pull out weeds by hand, or find the task too time-consuming? Keep them trimmed. This forces the plant to expend resources on growth instead of making seeds.

Squeeze Them Out

If your lawn is looking thin, consider overseeding to fill in the spaces. Temperate zone lawns can benefit from overseeding both warm and cool season grasses to extend the growing season, while new grass will fill in the spaces left by mature plants.

Spacing recommendations for bushes and other plants are based on keeping them from touching when mature. If you’re adding plants that don’t suffer from foliar (leaf) diseases, you can plant them up to 25% closer than recommended to increase ground cover.

Apply Herbicides According to Schedule

Pre-emergent herbicides kill plants before they have a chance to sprout, so they need to be applied before the plant shows up. These should be used if you know you have an ongoing problem with a particular weed. These chemicals also halt the growth of new grass, so they need to be applied a few weeks before overseeding.

Contact herbicides only kill the parts of the plant they touch, while systemic herbicides are absorbed so they can kill the entire plant. Contact herbicides work quickly, but the remaining root system may be able to grow back its leaves. Systemic herbicides may take weeks to kill weeds, but they’re more thorough. Give systemic herbicides time to work before you switch to a different weed control strategy.

Know When to Choose Granular or Liquid Herbicides

Liquid herbicides can coat everything, which means they’re more effective at killing weeds. However, wind can move the herbicides to areas you don’t want, killing off sensitive, desirable plants. Granular herbicides don’t get full weed contact, but they stay put, and they can be applied with an overseeder or broadcast spreader.

If you’re a professional landscaper, opting for liquid application is the obvious choice: with a spray attachment or stand-alone sprayer, you can recoup equipment costs quickly through decreased labor. However, for gardeners and homeowners, it may be cheaper and easier to stick with granular herbicides, using spray bottles of liquid herbicide to kill individual weeds.

Whatever You Need, Shank’s Lawn Has It

If you need equipment to halt the spread of leaves, keep your lawn green, or do anything else landscape-related, visit Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We’re an authorized dealer for most major equipment brands including Troy-Bilt, Scag, Shindaiwa, Exmark, and Jrco. We also have a massive parts warehouse and repair everything we sell so we can keep your equipment working. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, one mile East of I-81 Exit 10.

Need parts or accessories for your equipment? We ship OEM replacements across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit our website, www.shankslawn.com.

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Spring Overseeding

Exmark Slicer SeederIs your lawn not looking as lush as you’d like, even though you’re doing everything to keep it healthy? Maybe it’s time to consider overseeding. By laying down seed in the spring, you can increase the density of your turf and fill in spaces open to weeds. Here’s how.

Why Overseed in the Spring?

Most overseeding is done in the fall to add cool weather grasses, giving the lawn a second growing season as warm season varieties go into hibernation. However, overseeding in the spring also gives your lawn a boost by increasing grass coverage in the spring and summer.

On average, a blade of grass only lives for around 45 days. During its life, the blade extends roots that in turn grow new blades. As grass matures, this root growth slows until the blades are dying out faster than they’re replaced. After three or four years, this can thin out ground coverage. By planting new seed, the cycle starts over again with fresh growth. This fills in open spaces, increasing grass density for a lush looking lawn. The new growth also competes with weeds for soil, reducing the need for herbicides.

When Should I Overseed?

Temperatures aren’t much of a problem for spring overseeding, but you may run into problems with herbicides. Chemicals aimed at crabgrass prevention can hinder new grass growth up to 16 weeks after application, and broadleaf herbicides can stunt growth up to four weeks after application. If you have trouble with either weed, you may want to put off overseeding until the fall.

Preparing Your Lawn

To give your new grass a good start, any soil issues should be corrected before overseeding. Get a soil test, and add amendments to bring the soil nutrients in line with what the grass will need. Avoid using “weed and feed” fertilizers: the herbicides they contain can inhibit new grass growth.

Cut your lawn as short as possible without cutting into crowns, and bag the clippings. The remaining grass should have a height under two inches. This exposes the maximum amount of soil for good seed contact.

Dethatch the lawn. By pulling back the thatch layer, there will be one less barrier between the seed and the ground.

Blade seeders only relieve surface compaction. By aerating your lawn ahead of time, deeper soil compaction is eliminated, making it easier for new roots to penetrate the soil.

Spreading Seed

The seed manufacturer will recommend a range for application density. Go for the maximum amount recommended if the lawn has never been overseeded, and aim for the lower half of the recommended range if the lawn was overseeded in the past couple years. Keep in mind that most equipment manufacturers recommend making two opposing passes when seeding: you’ll need to lay down half the recommended amount with each pass.

Getting Seed to Take Root

Lightly water the lawn two to three times per day. This will keep the soil moist without washing away the seeds or promoting mold. Once the seeds start sprouting, switch to watering the same total amount of water once per day. This water will go deeper into the soil, promoting root growth.

A high-phosphorus fertilizer may need to be applied with the seed or shortly afterward. Unlike other nutrients, phosphorus, marked “P” on the fertilizer bag, isn’t water soluble, so the new plants can’t access it until their root systems develop. Fertilizers designed for overseeding will include extra phosphorus.

Avoid foot and vehicle traffic on the lawn, and hold off on mowing until the new grass is at least two inches tall. Once that happens, you can return to your usual lawn care routine.

From Aerators to Slicer Seeders, Shank’s Has You Covered

If you have a seeder from Exmark or JRCO, an Echo yard sprayer or anything other piece of outdoor equipment, chances are, you can get the parts and service you need at Shank’s Lawn. We’re an authorized dealer for a wide range of manufacturers from BCS to Yanmar, which means we sell and support everything you need for lawn care. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA.

Need parts and accessories for your equipment? You can order what you need from your browser and have it shipped anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Just visit www.shankslawn.com.

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