Keeping Your Lawn Green During Peak Summer Temperatures

Watering Your Lawn in the SummerIs it possible to have a great looking lawn through the summer? Yes, but it takes some planning. Using the right mowing and watering techniques, you can help your grass survive the hottest, driest parts of the summer, and still stay green. These tips will help you address common summer lawn issues, and let you know when it’s time to step back and let your lawn turn brown.

Why is Summer Stressful to Grass?

In most areas, there’s less rain in the summer, which means more irrigation is needed to make up the difference. Heat stresses grass directly, but it also increases evaporation, drying the soil out further. To keep grass healthy, lawn care should focus on keeping the soil moist, while removing factors that can strain grass growth.

Use Your Grass to Shade the Soil

Let your grass grow longer in the summer. The blades shade the ground, protecting the root system, and reducing evaporation. Most warm-season grasses remain healthy at heights up to three inches. Bermuda thrives at a maximum height of 2 ½ inches, while Bahia and buffalo varieties can grow up to four inches high.

Water to Keep Soil Moist

The deeper you can get water to penetrate the soil, the better your grass will be at handling the heat. For most grass varieties, you want to add 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Dividing this up into one or two applications each week will help saturate the soil across the entire root system.

Timing irrigation is a balancing act. On one hand, you don’t want the water to evaporate. On the other hand, putting down so much water at one time encourages fungal infections. Ideally, you should water early in the morning, just before the sun comes up. This gives the time for the soil to absorb the water while letting any standing water evaporate once the sun is up. If you have an irrigation system with a timer, set it to activate around 5-6 am.

Protecting the Grass from Other Sources of Stress

A dull mower blade breaks off the ends of your grass instead of slicing them. This opens up your lawn to infections. If you see jagged tips on your grass after you mow, you need to sharpen your blades.

If you have a pet in your yard, their urine can take a toll on your grass. Urine has a high nitrogen content. Between a lack of water in the summer and your dog or cat’s habit of using the same spot for potty breaks, there’s a high chance of having burns. Spray down the area with water to dilute the nitrogen as soon as possible, and keep the area watered to help plants bounce back.

Now is not a good time to fertilize your lawn, or treat it with herbicides and insecticides. If you have a weed problem, stick to contact herbicides. Since they’re only applied directly to the weed, they’re less likely to affect the surrounding grass.

My Lawn Turned Brown. Now What?

Your lawn probably isn’t dead, it’s just dormant. In times of drought and heat stress, your grass will shut down its leaves to focus nutrients and water on the roots to keep the plant alive. How do you tell the difference between dormant and dead grass? Dormant grass turns brown across your lawn, while grass will die in patches. However, if your irrigation system doesn’t have good coverage, you may have dormant spots outside of the water’s reach.

Usually, grass can stay dormant for up to a month before it starts to die. Trying to revive grass immediately after it goes dormant adds more stress, which may end up killing it. Instead, wait until the weather is more favorable, either because of increased precipitation or lower temperatures. If you see some green reappearing, it’s safe to resume watering and mowing your lawn.

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has Everything You Need for Lawn Care

From mowers to towable spray tanks, we carry every type of outdoor equipment you may need to take care of your lawn. Need help with your equipment? Shank’s is an authorized service center for most major brands of residential and professional equipment. We also have a massive parts warehouse, and we ship parts and accessories across the United States and Canada.  Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or online at www.shankslawn.com.

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Yanmar SA Series Tractors: When Lawn and Garden Tractors Just Won’t Cut It

Yanmar SA Series TractorsIs your garden tractor not cutting it? Do you wish you had a tractor, but can’t justify their high price? Maybe what you need is a Yanmar SA series. These compact tractors bridge the gap between tractors and lawn equipment, offering a mix of features that make them flexible, powerful, and easy to use.

Attachments: What Makes a Tractor a Tractor

No matter how big a garden tractor may be, attachment use is limited. At most, you may be able to add a snow blade or pull a grass seeding trailer. With the SA Series, you get three places to attach implements, either built for these tractors by Yanmar, or by third parties using industry-standard fittings.

At the rear of these tractors, you’ll find a standard three-point hitch. The PTO has a 35mm (1 3/8 inch) outside diameter with  6 splines, and it can spin at 554 or 3,200 RPM. This makes it compatible with a wide range of aftermarket equipment, including everything from brush mowers to snow blowers.  Yanmar makes a backhoe that fits this hitch.

There’s a second mid-mounted PTO designed for under-frame attachments. It has an SAE 16/32 inch PTO with 15 splines, and it can spin at 2,057 or 3,200 RPM. Yanmar offers a 60-inch mowing deck for this attachment point, making the SA Series a great replacement for a lawn tractor.

The SA series also supports front-mounted attachments with connections to the tractor’s hydraulic system. The hydraulic pump moves up to 4.3 gallons of fluid per minute, giving it the power to operate attachments including front loader buckets, forks, and hay spears. Yanmar even offers their own boom loader for this hitch, as well as a grading blade, snow blade, and rotary broom.

Lawn Tractor Usability with Tractor Capability

These tractors use a hydrostatic drive that’s just as easy to use as the units on lawn tractors. It uses two pedals to control forward and rearward motion, with no need to use a gear shift or hand throttle to set the speed. Top speed is 8.6 MPH going forward, and 6.3 MPH in reverse. Selectable four-wheel drive gives these tractors added grip on soft surfaces. Yanmar designed every part of the drivetrain in-house, so these components are built to work together for maximum efficiency.

Since there are no shifters, the operator position has a large, flat footboard. Coupled with the high backed seat and armrests, this makes the SA more comfortable to use than most full-size tractors.  Like a full-size tractor, these models have hydraulic steering. Instead of spinning a steering shaft, turning the wheel controls valves that move the steering rack left and right. This eliminates bump steer and reduces vibration. A full-frame quells vibrations before they can reach the seat and controls.

The ROPS protects the operator from rollovers, and it folds down, reducing the tractor’s total height by 20 inches for storage. The SA Series comes with front and ROPS-mounted work lights, as well as side marker lights for visibility.

The SA Series is powered by Yanmar’s famously reliable liquid-cooled diesels. They’re guaranteed with a 5-year powertrain warranty. The built-in 6.1-gallon fuel tank will keep this tractor running all day.

Models

Yanmar makes three versions of the SA Series: the 221, the 324, and the 424.

The 221 is built to be a low-cost upgrade from lawn and garden tractors. It comes with an engine that makes 19.4 HP.

The 324 is targeted at 3-5 acre properties. It has an engine that produces 21.7 HP, so it can handle larger implements than the 221.

The 424 is a 324 outfitted for earth moving. Bigger tires give it 9.9 inches of ground clearance, 1.4 inches more than the 324. It comes with a YL210 front loader attachment from the factory.

Looking for Better Lawn Care Tools? We Can Help.

Looking for something with more flexibility than a standard garden tractor? Shank’s Lawn equipment carries Yanmar tractors, BCS America two-wheel tractors, and MultiOne mini loaders. Looking for implements? We also carry OEM attachments from these brands, as well as products from Woods Equipment. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. You can also see our current inventory and order OEM parts and accessories at www.shankslawn.com. We can ship your order to any address in the U.S. or Canada.

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The New Echo CS-3510 Chainsaw: Consumer Performance Without Compromises

Echo CS-3510 ChainsawMost of us aren’t arborers or lumberjacks, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck using terrible consumer-grade chainsaws. The new Echo CS-3510 chainsaw is aimed at the consumer market, but it comes with a lot of the features that make their pro chainsaws great to use. This makes it a great choice if you’re looking for a saw for occasional use for home cleanup, cut firewood for camping, or manage small trees and branches.

Performance

The CS-3510 follows in the footsteps of the CS-4510, utilizing new design features to reduce weight and deliver more power than its predecessor, the CS-352. According to Echo, owners can expect 20% better cutting performance, 12% more power and a weight reduction of over half a pound compared to the chainsaw it replaces.

The CS-3510 is powered by a new 34.4cc commercial grade two-stroke engine. It uses Echo’s i-30 starter, which has a spring assist to reduce starting effort by 30%. The handle is mounted on a three point spring system, helping separate it from the vibrations coming from the engine and chain. The CS-3510 has the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class, tipping the scales at just 8.2 lbs. without the bar and chain. Expect a complete chainsaw with fuel and oil to weigh two to three pounds more.

While the CS-352 is compatible with 14 and 16-inch bars, the CS-3510 only works with a 16-inch bar. This chainsaw has enough power for cutting down small to medium sized trees. It’s also good for light firewood cutting, pruning, thinning, and general lawn and storm cleanup. Thanks to its compact size, it also makes a great camp saw, making quick work out of chopping firewood or cleaning up branches on the trail.

Maintenance

The CS-3510 has a 7.8 oz. bar oil tank and a 9.5 oz. fuel tank. Both tanks are translucent, so you can check the amount of fluid in them at a glance. The oiler isn’t adjustable, but it uses an automatic clutch drive. This drive only lubricates the chain when it’s in motion, reducing bar oil consumption.

A new air injection air cleaner reduces maintenance by separating out large dust before air reaches the filter. This saw has toolless filter access thanks to a cover held down by two metal tabs. Fuel line replacement is easy, too. The line has a fixed grommet, so you know the line is reaching the bottom of the tank when you install it. You can expect Echo will release YouCan maintenance kits for this chainsaw soon. These include all the parts you need for common repairs, including tune ups and fuel system rebuilds.

The bolts for the bar and the chain tensioner are next to each other underneath a side cover. This makes it easier to replace the bar and chain. These are both positioned away from the exhaust, so you don’t need to worry about burning yourself if you need to work on this saw shortly after using it.

The air purge bulb, choke and off switch are mounted on the back side of the engine cover, next to handle. The choke automatically disengages when the throttle is used, keeping you from leaving the choke on when you make your first cut. The ignition switch is spring-loaded, so you’ll never crank the engine with the ignition off, flooding the engine.

Warranty

The Echo CS-3510 is guaranteed for one year of commercial use, or 5 years of residential use.

When You Need Help with Chainsaws, Talk to the Experts

Shank’s Lawn Equipment covers all types of outdoor and lawn care equipment, including everything from mowers to chainsaws. If you’re looking for a new chainsaw, or you need help with your Echo, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. We have a massive parts warehouse with everything you need to fix your saw, as well as a service department that can help you with difficult repair work. You can also check us out online at www.shankslawn.com. Our site lets you browse our current equipment inventory, and order everything you need for your chainsaw. We ship parts and accessories across the United States and Canada.

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Echo X Series String Trimmers

Echo X Series String TrimmersThe idea behind Echo’s X Series is simple. Instead of having to look at a dozen or so models to find the best one for your landscaping business, they put this label on the best they have to offer.
What do you get when you buy one of their X Series string trimmers? Something that isn’t as heavy and awkward as a purpose-built brush cutter, but still has plenty of performance and design features that make it easy to use all day.

What Makes These Trimmers Commercial Grade?

Echo started with engines taken from Echo’s chainsaw lineup. These two-strokes have a magnesium fan housing to keep weight down. A bellows-style fuel transfer system prevents vapor lock, making it easier to start the engine when it’s hot. Air passes through a two stage air filter, keeping the inside of the engine clean for a longer service life. This filter can be serviced without tools, making it easy to clean and replace.

The main maintenance interval comes every three months, and it’s simple enough for owners to do themselves. Echo even makes tune-up packs with everything you need to keep your trimmer running. If the cooling fins get dirty, you only need to remove a couple screws to remove the engine shroud. While most repairs are relatively simple, Echo recommends having the carburetor adjusted by the dealer if you operate at altitudes over 1,100 feet.

Over-molded front and rear grips, like you’ll find on most power tools, provide better grip and absorb some of the engine vibration. Echo uses loop grips on all of their X Series models.

Models

SRM-2620

The smaller X Series trimmer comes with a 25.4 cc two-stroke engine that makes 1.35 HP. A 1.62:1 gear ratio keeps line speeds high to rip through grass. This model comes with a Speed-Feed 400 cutting head that reloads quickly without needing to be disassembled. It comes pre-loaded with Echo’s updated 0.095 Black Diamond line, but this head can handle line up to 0.130 inches in diameter. The cutting swath for this model is 17 inches. The 2620 tips the scales at 12.3 lbs.

SRM-2620T

Need more power to cut through woody growth? The SRM-2620T has a 2:1 gear ratio, giving it 28% more torque than the standard 2620. This larger gearbox increases weight to 12.5 lbs, but it’s otherwise identical to the SRM-2620.

SRM-3020

How do you follow up the success of the SRM-2620? Add more power. The new 3020 has a 30.5 cc two-stroke engine producing 1.8 HP. That added power cuts a 20 inch swath using a Speed-Feed 450 cutting head. This head handles up to 0.130 inch line, and comes with the same 0.095 Black Diamond line as the 2620. The gearbox has a 1.62:1 gear ratio. Without fuel, the 3020 weighs 13.7 lbs.

SRM-3020T

The high torque version of the 3020 has a 2:1 gear reduction and weighs 13.9 lbs.

Attachments and Accessories

Echo offers an edger, tiller and brush cutter for their X Series line. Currently, these attachments are only available for the SRM-2620 and  SRM-2620T.

The edger attachment uses a 0.090 inch blade to cut clean edges against pavement and redefine garden beds. It’s compatible with Echo’s Crack Chaser wire wheel. This wheel removes dirt and vegetation from pavement, preparing it for sealing.

The tiller attachment replaces the trimmer head with a pair of tilling blades for tilling and cultivating.

Echo also offers a blade conversion kit for brush cutting. It uses a 20 mm arbor, and is available with or without an 8 inch, 8 tooth brush blade. A harness and barrier bars are included.

Like the X Series, but want to use a different cutting head? Echo offers a high capacity manual head, a heavy-duty fixed line head and the ECHOmatic bump head. These heads can be used with all X Series models. The Maxi-Cut head uses heavy-duty composite blades instead of line, making it a good choice for cutting thick brush. It’s only compatible with the 2620.

Warranty

Echo guarantees the entire trimmer for two years of commercial use, and 5 years of consumer use.

When You Need the Best, Go to Shank’s

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has been in the outdoor equipment business since 1985. We offer residential and commercial grade lawn care equipment from top brands including Echo, Echo Bear Cat, Mantis and Honda. Looking for parts and accessories? Need to have your equipment fixed? Our parts and service departments can help you keep your equipment working. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or check out our website, www.shankslawn.com. We ship parts and accessories across the United States and Canada.

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Cub Cadet Challenger UTVs: Perfect for Work and Play

Cub Cadet Challenger UTVThe fact that Cub Cadet makes UTVs shouldn’t be too surprising. These vehicles were originally created for farmers, landscaping professionals, and groundskeepers. What you might be surprised to find that not all of these UTVs are strictly utility oriented. Cub Cadet’s Challenger line offers a mix of vehicles that work just as well roaming the outdoors as they do hauling planting soil and moving snow.

400

This Challenger is powerful enough for work, and at just 50 inches wide, it can fit in a full-size pickup bed. Under the hood, you’ll find a 404cc, single-cylinder Subaru EX40 making 14 HP. This lets the 400 can tow up to 1,200 lbs. using its Class 1 hitch receiver, and the bed can carry up to 400 lbs. The top speed is limited to 25 MPH to make it legal for neighborhood street use. A roof, LED headlights, alloy wheels, and adjustable headrests come standard.

Cub Cadet offers this model in two versions. The 400 4×4 has four-wheel drive, while the 400 LX has is rear-wheel drive and comes with a full windshield.

MX 550

While the 400 is mostly work-focused, the 550 is built for play. This isn’t a small upgrade over the old 500. This Challenger uses a newly reinforced frame designed to handle heavy loads and plenty of punishment.

The 550 comes standard with a cab, half doors, and side-view mirrors. The windshield can be removed if you want more airflow. Inside, you’ll find a pair of bucket seats and a fully digital dash.

Power comes from a 546cc single-cylinder engine. It comes equipped with EFI, reducing fuel consumption while making the engine easier to start in cold weather. The 550 can tow up to 1,200 lbs, and its bed can carry up to 500 lbs. Top speed is 45 MPH.

To keep things fun, this UTV has alloy wheels with off-road tires, 11 inches of ground clearance, and a standard winch rated for 3,500 lbs. The CVT has a low range gear, and both the front and rear differentials are lockable. Cub Cadet offers this UTV in camouflage, yellow and black.

MX 750

Like the 550, but want more power? The 750 uses a 735cc engine with electric fuel injection, giving it a major boost in acceleration. The 4×4 system carries over, as do the winch and cab. You also get the same selection of colors.

The Challenger 750 has a 1,200 lb. towing capacity and 1,100 lb. cargo capacity including a maximum of 500 lbs. in the bed. While the unassisted steering is light in most circumstances, you might want to get the EPS model if you plan on tackling difficult trails. It adds electric power steering, making the UTV easier to steer, especially with the front diff locked.

Accessories

Buying a 550 or 750 for some off-road fun? Cub Cadet offers rock sliders to protect the undercarriage and a four cube light bar for better visibility. If you use your UTV for work, you can outfit it with a chainsaw mount and a bed sprayer that moves 2.2 gallons of fluid per minute at 70 PSI. No matter how you plan on using your UTV, you should also check out the upper door sections and the brush guard.

Want to upgrade the Challenger 400? You can add a soft cab and rear dust panel for weather protection, while tail lights and a horn kit make for safer off-roading. This side-by-side can also be fitted with the same 3,500 lb. winch found in larger models. Cub Cadet makes a 58-inch snow blade that is lifted and lowered by this winch.

We’re More than Just Lawn Care Equipment

Shank’s Lawn Equipment specializes in all types of outdoor equipment, including UTVs. We carry vehicles from Cub Cadet and Yanmar, as well as amphibious ATVs from Argo. Need to have your vehicle worked on, or want to add some accessories? Our service department can do it for you, or you get the parts you need from us to do it yourself. Come see what we have to offer at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or visit us online at www.shanksargo.com. You can use our website to check our current inventory and order what you need to fix your Cub Cadet. We ship across the United States and Canada.

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Cub Cadet Volunteer UTV

Cub Cadet Volunteer UTVSide-by-Sides have an odd place in the market. While they were created as an alternative to large work trucks, most models are still closely tied to more sport-oriented ATVs and motorcycles. That means while they may have great off-roading capabilities, they aren’t cut out for serious work. That’s not the case with the Cub Cadet Volunteer. It’s built from the ground up for working, from its torquey engine to its long list of standard equipment.

Power

The Volunteer uses a 747cc Kohler Aegis V-Twin. Unlike the motorcycle engines found in most UTVs, this fuel-injected, liquid-cooled engine is built primarily to deliver low-end torque. Its 31 HP rating may not sound that impressive in this segment, but it delivers 47.7 lb-ft. of torque at a low 2,400 RPM. This gives you power where you need it for pulling trailers, pushing snow and carrying heavy loads. The engine uses a heavy-duty air filtration system like you’ll find on a high end mower.

Cub Cadet fits this model with a 6-gallon gas tank, but thanks to the added efficiency of EFI, you can expect this small tank to keep the engine running as long as the 8 and 9-gallon tanks found in competitors’ side-by-sides. Fuel injection also helps this engine burn stale fuel, and it makes starting easier on cold days.

Power is sent through a CVT to a four wheel drive system with a lockable rear differential. Top speed is 25 MPH, which is lower than previous models. This helps the Volunteer meet neighborhood vehicle regulations for street use. The Volunteer has 11 inches of ground clearance and 8 inches suspension travel courtesy of adjustable coilovers.

Payload and Towing

Cub Cadet builds the Volunteer around a 3-inch ladder frame, much like the frame you’ll find in a full-size truck. This lets it carry up to 1,400 lbs, including up to 1,000 lbs. in the steel bed. Out back, you’ll find a Class 1 hitch receiver that lets this UTV tow up to 1,400 lbs. With 8 inch hydraulic disc brakes on all four wheels, you don’t have to worry about slowing down when you’re fully loaded.

Comfort

Cub Cadet used to offer several versions of the Volunteer, but now there’s just one model to pick from that comes with the most popular equipment. While most manufacturers will photograph their models with optional equipment, everything you see in promotional photos comes standard. That includes a fully enclosed cabin with hard doors, a windshield, a wiper, a rearview mirror and high-mounted work lights.

While some manufacturers try to squeeze three seats together in their side-by-sides, this vehicle has large bucket seats to accommodate two people.

Accessories

While most of what you’ll want comes standard on this Cub Cadet, there are still upgrades available to tailor the Volunteer to your needs.

12-inch alloy wheels come stock, but you can get 14-inch rims if you’re looking for different tire options. For more storage space, you can add a hood rack. Do you need a backup alarm to meet your workplace’s safety requirements? The Volunteer comes pre-wired for accessories, so the reverse alarm is a drop-in addition.

Need to drag obstacles out of the way, or rescue your vehicle if you get stuck? You can add a Warn winch with a whopping 4,000 lb. load capacity. It fits behind the stock brush guard, so you don’t need to worry about banging it up.

Since this UTV has a liquid cooled engine, Cub Cadet is able to offer a heater kit that works like an automobile heater. It blows air through a heater core that taps into engine’s coolant system, delivering heat without putting a large load on the electrical system. Speaking of cold, you can fit the front end of this UTV with a 72-inch snow blade. This blade must be paired with the winch, which is used to raise and lower the blade from the cabin.

Colors

The Volunteer is available in yellow, red or camouflage. There is no extra charge for any of these colors.

Warranty

Cub Cadet covers this UTV for one year of residential use. Kohler guarantees their Aegis engines for three years of residential or commercial use.

Your One Stop Shop for Outdoor Equipment

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has more than just mowers. We carry all types of outdoor equipment, from generators to work-ready UTVs from Cub Cadet and Yanmar. Need parts or service for your vehicle? We do that, too. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or check out our website, www.shankslawn.com, to see our current stock of vehicles. You can also order parts and accessories for your side-by-side from us online. We ship across the United States and Canada.

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How to Choose the Right Chainsaw

Cub Cadet ChainsawWhat features do you need in a chainsaw? How big of a chainsaw do you need? What’s the best type of engine for a chainsaw? If you’re looking for a new saw, there are a lot of choices you need to make. Here’s how you can answer these questions, so you can get exactly what you need.

How Often Will You Use Your Chainsaw?

While most lawn care equipment is divided into residential and commercial models, chainsaws also have a “farm and ranch” or “prosumer” category that fits somewhere in the middle. These categories target the amount of use the saw sees during its lifetime. Homeowners use saws a few times a year, large property owners may use their saws every few weeks, and professionals use them almost daily.

Like other equipment, moving up a category doesn’t just get you more power. Higher end models will have more vibration dampening and larger fuel tanks. That said, you will still get a kickback safety and an automatic bar oiler on any modern residential saw. Many of these models also include a spring-assisted starter, which makes the engine easier to turn over.

Weight, Power and Bar Size: Getting the Right Combination

Bigger is better, right? Not necessarily. Going for a bigger chainsaw gives you more power and lets you use a longer bar. However, you’re going to feel every extra pound after lugging it around all day. An arborist chainsaw can easily weight twice as much as a more residential-friendly model, and that difference is even greater with the bar installed. Using too big of a chainsaw doesn’t just make cutting harder, it also becomes a safety risk as your arms get tired. Kickbacks are more likely the longer the bar is, so it’s best to stick with a smaller chainsaw if you aren’t an experienced user.

Likewise, you should choose a guide bar based on the size of trees and branches you’re cutting. A longer bar can handle larger trees, but a shorter bar is more maneuverable. Your chainsaw’s bar should be at least two inches longer than whatever you are cutting. For the best performance, use a bar that is no more than two inches longer than the stock bar that came with your chainsaw. Anything longer will likely demand too much power from the engine.

Why are Most Chainsaws Two-Strokes?

A two-stroke engine draws in air and fuel and pushes out exhaust at the bottom of the piston stroke, then ignites the fuel/air mixture at the top of the stroke. The engine ignites fuel with every rotation of the crank, while a four-stroke ignites every two rotations. This increasing power. Oil is mixed into the fuel, circulating through the crankcase before entering the cylinder. There’s no need to have a separate lubrication system, so the engine stays lubricated no matter what angle it’s running at.

While emissions are an issue, two-strokes have largely fallen out of favor because they have a very narrow powerband. Slow down the engine, and power drops off significantly. In a chainsaw, this is a benefit. Normally, the engine runs at top speed. If the chain snags, the engine will stall, helping prevent kickback.

This is one problem that makes two strokes inconvenient: fuel sensitivity. Modern fuel goes stale quickly, and two-stroke engines are very sensitive to stale fuel. Manufacturers recommend using gasoline within one month of purchase, even if it was mixed with an off-the-shelf stabilizer. You can avoid problems by buying shelf-stable pre-mixed fuel like Echo’s Red Armor, or two-stroke oil with added stabilizers, like Shindaiwa’s One oil. These formulas keep fuel fresher longer.

What Do I Need to Get With My Chainsaw to Use It?

Good safety equipment is a must. Eye protection keeps sawdust at bay. Non-slip shoes or boots help you keep your footing while hearing protection blocks engine noise. You can protect your hands and reduce fatigue by wearing anti-vibration gloves. Heavy pants are good for protection, but chainsaw pants or chaps are better. Look for a pair that meets the ASTM F1897 standard. These have a Kevlar layer that binds up the chain before it can cut your legs.

The saw should feed itself into the wood. If you find that you have to pull the saw forward and back to get it to cut, the chain is dull. Either pick up a chain sharpening kit or have your chain professionally sharpened when you start having cutting problems.

Get the Right Chainsaw for Your Needs

Shank’s Lawn Equipment carries a wide range of outdoor equipment, including chainsaws from Echo and Shindaiwa. We can help you find a saw and bar that fits your needs, and we have the parts and service you need to keep it running. Our shop is located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA.

Need parts or accessories for your chainsaw? Visit our website, www.shankslawn.com. We can ship your order to any address in the U.S. or Canada.

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What’s the Best Way to Deal with Clippings: Mulching, Bagging or Discharge?

What’s the Best Way to Deal with Clippings: Mulching, Bagging or Discharge?While there are generally accepted practices for cutting grass, there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to dealing with the clippings. Is mulching always the best option? Why shouldn’t you always bag clippings? Why would you want a rear discharge deck? Here’s what you need to know about how these methods work, and when you want to use them to deal with your lawn clippings.

Mulching

Under most circumstances, mulching is the best choice for mowing. Mulching cuts grass clippings into tiny pieces, allowing their nutrients to be reabsorbed into the soil. Returning these clippings to the lawn also supports microorganism growth, acting as a sort of first course before microbes tackle the tough, woody material that makes up thatch. Done correctly, mulching reduces the need for fertilizer and keeps thatch buildup under control.

Modern mulching systems use high lift blades that act like fans, blowing clippings up into the deck’s mowing chamber. As the clippings fall back down, they’re sliced again. Large clippings continue to flow back into the mowing chamber, while small clippings fall between the blades onto the ground.

All that cutting can bog down the mower with clippings. To speed up this process, Honda’s Microcut system uses a pair of blades stacked on top of each other to slice clippings twice with each pass. Other manufacturers like Scag take a similar approach, adding serrated edges to the ends of their mulching blades to make two initial cuts before mulching.

In the past, there was a major difference in mulching performance between stamped and constructed mower decks. While a stamped deck can be shaped to hug the blades for increased vacuum, a constructed deck’s flat sides leaves the deck almost completely open. Today, manufacturers get around this by including baffles with their mulching kits. These metal plates seal the mowing chamber, improving vacuum. While you won’t get the finish of a stamped deck, the results are much closer than they were on older mowers.

Bagging

Bagging is generally frowned upon in the landscaping community. By removing clippings, you’re stripping their nutrients from the soil. More fertilizer has to be added to the soil to compensate. However, there are times when you may not want clippings on your lawn:

– If weeds are germinating, mulching or discharging will spread their seeds across your lawn.

– While you can leave a thin layer of mulched leaves on your lawn for microorganisms to digest, a thick layer will block water and sunlight while turning acidic. Bagging removes leaves before they get out of hand.

– If you have black walnut trees, you may want to remove all leaves from your lawn. These leaves contain juglone, a chemical that is poisonous to a wide variety of plants.

The clippings you collect don’t have to go in the garbage. Instead, you can create a compost pile. Weed seeds, pollen and juglone break down after a few weeks, making the resulting mulch harmless to your lawn.

Side Discharge

A side discharge system is the simplest way to deal with clippings. The blades cut the grass and push the clippings out of a chute on the side of the deck. Vacuum is still important to lift the grass and get an even finish, but there’s no need for tall mowing chambers, tight tolerances and high lift blades to get a good cut. However, the clippings left behind can clump together, and they don’t integrate into the soil as well.

Discharging takes less power than mulching, making this method a good choice for exceptionally tall or thick grass. To keep your lawn healthy, never cut more than one-third of the grass’s height at a time. If you need to get overgrown grass down to a manageable height, cut one-third of its length over multiple mows, letting the grass recover for a couple days between cuts.

Rear Discharge

Aside from some walk-behind mowers, a rear discharge deck cannot be adapted to bag or mulch clippings. However, letting the clippings leave the rear of the deck eliminates the need for a discharge chute. This makes rear discharge decks narrower than other decks. Since clippings are spread across the entire width of the deck, there’s less chance of clumping. Rear discharge mowers are a great choice for maximizing cutting width while keeping the mower small enough to weave through and around landscape features.

We Can Help You No Matter How You Mow

Need to upgrade your mower for mulching or bagging? Want to add a rear discharge mower to your fleet? No matter your needs, Shank’s Lawn Equipment can help you. We’re a dealer for most major mower brands, including Honda, Cub Cadet, Exmark, Scag and Wright. We can help you find a mower that fits your needs, add accessories, and keep it running with parts and repairs. When you need lawn care equipment, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. You can also order parts and accessories from us at www.shankslawn.com. We ship across the U.S. and Canada.

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Scag Wide Area Walk Behind Mowers: Balancing Speed and Maneuverability

Scag Wide Area Walk Behind Mowers: Balancing Speed and ManeuverabilityWhen you need to mow around landscape features, nothing beats a walk-behind mower. When you need to cover a lot of ground, nothing beats a mower with a big deck. Want a mower that can do both? That’s where Scag’s wide area walk-behind mowers come in. They’re compact and easy to maneuver, but they’re also available with decks ranging from 32 to 61 inches. Add in features like hydrostatic drive, and you get mowers that can go just about anywhere while offering the mowing speed of a small ZTR.

Engines

All models come with Kawasaki FS Series engines. These V-Twins don’t have the advanced filtration system of the FX, but everything else carries over, including the rotating grass chopper screen and built-in cleanout ports. That means you get commercial reliability with low weight. This engine is mounted between the deck and controls, making it easy to access for maintenance.

Decks

Scag offers two deck designs with their walk-behinds: 32 and 36-inch Advantage Cutter decks, and 48, 52, and 61-inch Velocity Plus decks. The Velocity Plus adds bumpers to resist impacts and uses slightly thicker metal than the Advantage Cutter. Otherwise, these decks are almost identical. They both use multi-layer constructed shells with built-in baffles to increase mowing chamber vacuum.
The result is good cut quality with maximum durability.

However, there’s a big difference between these decks if you want to mulch. Velocity Plus decks can be equipped with the Hurricane Plus mulching system, This adds more baffles, a metal mulch plug and high lift blades with double serrated edges for superior mulching performance. Advantage Cutter decks can be equipped with a mulch plug, turbo baffle and high lift blades. Mulching performance is good, but it can’t match Hurricane Plus. With either deck, you can add a fabric bag grass catcher to the chute to capture clippings. This works like a bagger on a small walk-behind, letting you lift out and dump the entire bag when it’s full.

These decks are paired with the same Ogura clutches used in Scag’s ZTRs. These have an adjustable air gap, letting you compensate for wear to extend the clutch’s life.

Models

Scag makes three wide area walk-behind models: the SW, SWZ and SWZT.

SW
This line of mowers uses a 5-speed Peerless transmission. In top gear, these mowers can reach 6 MPH. A twin belt drive improves reliability and makes slipping less likely if the mower gets wet. The SW is offered with 32, 36, 48 and 52-inch decks.

The controls are mounted on a three position handle that rotates up and down to fit operators of different heights. Spring-assisted EZ grip controls reduce hand fatigue.

SWZ
The SWZ uses a hydrostatic drive system, giving it zero turning radius capability. A combination of Hydro-Gear pumps and Parker drive motors delivers a top speed of 7.4 MPH. Scag’s Adjust-a-Track system controls neutral and tracking with a single adjuster. It has the same three position handle and EZ grip controls found on the SW. Scag makes the SWZ with 36, 48, 52 and 61-inch decks.

SWZT
Like the SWZ, this mower line uses a hydrostatic drive. However, in place of separate pumps and motors, it uses a pair of Hydro-Gear ZT-2800 transaxles. With the motor and pump built into a single unit, there are no hoses or fittings that can leak. Together, these units can propel these mowers to a top speed of 7 MPH.

The SWZT uses fixed controls, but they have an angled handle like you’ll find on a stander mower. This lets the operator use a more natural grip, reducing wrist fatigue.

These mowers are offered with 36, 48, 52 and 61-inch decks. The SWZT’s deck height adjustment uses a set pin that goes into clearly marked holes, like you’ll find on a ride-on ZTR.

Warranty

Kawasaki guarantees FS Series engines for three years of commercial use.

Scag guarantees the SW, SWZ and SWZT two years of commercial use, or either three years or 500 hours of residential use. On SW and SWZ models, the cutter deck spindle and Velocity Plus decks are covered for three years. All Scag products are covered for 90 days when used for rentals.

Get the Perfect Mower for Your Needs

Whether you have a small yard, or you cut grass for a living, Shank’s Lawn Equipment has a mower for you. We carry most major mower brands, including Scag, Exmark and Cub Cadet. Looking for parts? We have a massive warehouse, which means there’s a good chance we have what you need in stock. Need repairs? Let our service department take care of it. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. We also ship parts and accessories across the United States and Canada. If you need something for your Scag, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.

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Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZTX

Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZTXThe term “prosumer” is thrown around a lot when referring to high-end electronics and camera equipment, but this word also fits the Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZTX. It bridges the gap between residential mowers, which emphasize ease-of-use over durability, and professional mowers, which are too expensive for non-commercial buyers. The result is a ZTR that has comfort features that would be noteworthy on a commercial model, along with top-grade components and construction. However, you don’t have to spend commercial mower money to put one of these in your garage.

Professional Deck Quality, Consumer Deck Maintenance Requirements

All ZTX mowers come with a constructed deck made with 10 gauge steel. 7 gauge steel is used to make side wraps and a skid plate, adding reinforcement where you’re most likely to strike obstacles. This deck has a tall mowing chamber, sloped sides, and overlapping blade positioning to maximize vacuum. The result is a rugged deck that nearly matches the cut quality of a stamped deck. The blades mount to spindles with sealed bearings, making them maintenance-free. Anti-scalp wheels come standard.

The ZTX line is offered with 48, 54, and 60 inch wide decks. Cub Cadet says 48-inch deck mowers can tackle 4 to 9 acres, while 54 and 60-inch decks are good for lawns from 4 to 10 acres. If your lawn is near the top end of this size range, a larger deck will cut mowing time significantly.

These mowers come equipped with a foot-operated deck lift with a dial adjuster. This lets you lift the deck to go over curbs, then drop it back down to your preferred mowing height.

Built for Comfort

Cub Cadet builds the ZTX around a robot-welded tubular steel frame. It has a built-in bumper that surrounds the engine without getting in the way of maintenance. A ROPS bar protects the operator in the event of a rollover. This bar folds down, making it easier to store and transport.

The seat is mounted on isolators, and both the seat position and armrests are adjustable. A thick rubber mat covers the footplate, stopping one more source of vibration. The ZTX5 and ZTX6 also have suspension arms built into the front caster wheels. This softens bumps, keeping the deck planted for a better mowing finish.

Top Quality Engines

ZTX4 models come with Kohler 7000 engines. Based on the block used in their professional Command Pro, this engine doesn’t get the Pro’s high-end air filtration system. However, most of the features carry over intact, including their Consistent-Cut governor. It’s designed to help the engine react quickly to load changes, so blade speed doesn’t drop when you drive into a patch of thick grass.

ZTX5 models come with Kawasaki FR Series engines. Like the 7000, Kawasaki starts with a commercial engine, removing features to lower the price. Again, the main difference is the lack of a commercial-grade air box.

Want commercial-grade power? The ZTX6 uses the Kawasaki FX. This engine is one of the most popular choices in commercial ZTRs, ensuring a long service life in these residential mowers. Despite being the most powerful engine in the ZTX lineup, it’s only offered with 48 and 54-inch decks.

Drive Systems

Cub Cadet equips the ZTX with Hydro-Gear ZT Series transaxles. These units combine the pump and drive motor into one unit, eliminating hoses. All three units are commercial grade and use an external oil filter for easy maintenance. Top speed for the mower depends on the transaxle model:

ZT 3100 – 8 MPH
ZT 3200 – 8.5 MPH
ZT 3400 – 9 MPH

All three have a reverse top speed of 3.5 MPH.

Accessories

For the most part, the available accessories are what you’d expect for a mower like this. There’s a triple bagger kit for lawn clipping collection. The mulching kit comes with high lift blades and a deck plug to turn clippings into fine mulch. If you want a ballpark finish, you can add a lawn striping kit to roll the grass as you mow.

What you probably don’t expect is a 52-inch plow kit and tire chains. This makes the ZTX one of the few ZTRs on the market that can move snow.

Warranty

Kohler and Kawasaki both guarantee their engines for three years. Cub Cadet guarantees the rest of the mower for four years or 500 hours of operation.

When You Think Mowers, Think Shank’s

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has helped professionals and homeowners with their lawn equipment for over 35 years. We carry mowers of all sizes from walk-behinds to ZTRs from several major brands, including Cub Cadet, Wright, and Exmark. Looking for parts, accessories, or repairs? Our service and parts departments can provide you with the support you need to keep your mower working. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. You can also order parts and accessories from us at www.shankslawn.com. We ship across the United States and Canada.

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