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54c deck on both my GX345 and X485. I have leveled both decks front to back, left to right. New blades, always greased etc. Neither one cuts even and the X485 is horrific.

Is this just a case of too large a deck? I thought JD cut quality was the main reason people bought them. What size do I need to go down to get a smooth cut?
 

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there are probably 50 parameters that contribute to cut quality... deck design probably contributes 5-10 of those parameters. Not knowing any other details, I would guess your grass is too tall when you cut it - recommend you cut it more often, so as to not have to chew through 12" of wet grass pasture....
cheers!
 

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For most effective results, a lawn mower deck should have a pitch, or height difference of 1/8-inch to 1/2-inch between the front of the deck to the back of the deck. Naturally, this makes the sweet spot about 1/4-inch of pitch, depending on the mower model. In any case, the front of the deck should be pitched lower than the deck rear. Be careful not to pitch too much that you start scalping lawns
 

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My 60" deck cuts 10X better than the previous 46" craftsman.

As Wally said - there are a TON of inputs. First things I always look at are:
1) Tire pressure - critical to have equal tire pressure side to side
2) Deck level adjustments.

For me - 95% of the time, these two inputs are the ones that fix any issues.
 

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With the deck off and the belt removed check the alignment of the neighboring blades, tip to tip. If you are convinced that the blades are not bent you can shim under the spindles with washers to get better alignment.
 

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A hard truth, my little 42" Craftsman LT cuts way better and more conveniently than my X748 with 48" deck. The X cuts ok with the mulch kit, but it boarders on useless with the powerflow. I shouldn't have to rebalance and relevel the deck just so I can use a bagger, not to mention the sumo match that goes on installing the powerflow. Then only to have the deck blow clippings out the right side in front of the powerflow. The Craftsman is lighter, easier to install, has minimal blowout and is much more user friendly. For instance it is way easier to empty the bags. Is this just me? My Deere grass bags defy gravity when I flip them over to try and get the clippings to fall out. Done ranting.
 

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Just like MISparty, I moved from a Craftsman that I thought did a pretty good mowing job till the steering finally gave out, (the last straw of many issues with that tractor) but found the JD to be 10x better!! The only time I have an issue with my X500 is when I mow over a dip or hole in the yard, and even that is barely visible.

You didn't really describe what you meant by "horrific". Rows uneven with each other....blade circles.....frayed grass tips..??

If you cut a known flat area with no holes or dips in it and the decks still don't cut evenly, that is, each pass leaves the same length grass as the last pass, then there is still something out of adjustment.

Check to be sure that all of the mounts correct and are free to move up and down, and allow the decks to settle to their set cutting heights. Are the blades turning at proper speed? I don't know what they might be for each machine.

I second on MISparty's comment on tire pressures. Soft tires will mush down and allow the deck to dip, especially while turning.

Let us know what you are able to figure out.
 

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A hard truth, my little 42" Craftsman LT cuts way better and more conveniently than my X748 with 48" deck. The X cuts ok with the mulch kit, but it boarders on useless with the powerflow. I shouldn't have to rebalance and relevel the deck just so I can use a bagger, not to mention the sumo match that goes on installing the powerflow. Then only to have the deck blow clippings out the right side in front of the powerflow. The Craftsman is lighter, easier to install, has minimal blowout and is much more user friendly. For instance it is way easier to empty the bags. Is this just me? My Deere grass bags defy gravity when I flip them over to try and get the clippings to fall out. Done ranting.
The smaller the deck the Better the Cut But out of the X465 thru X758 the 48inch has always Had the Best Looking Cut. I miss My 48inch the Most wish I had never gone with the 54inch I think My GX335 with 42inch deck Makes the Yard Look the Best. The Only Large deck I have found that does one of the Best Job Cutting is the 54inch Fab deck On My Cub Cadet XT3 GSX. It Put's Deere 54inch to shame(y)
 

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Don’t believe the story - You can’t get a good cut with a large deck. I ran my 757 60” 7-Iron deck with brand new blades last Thursday and cut a field that had rough areas with cutting variations 1-6” and got a good cut. Then I ran it on a 3 acre lawn that is mostly smooth and flat and got a golf course finish type cut while traveling at near full speed 9 mph. I attribute it to new blades, heavy machine, a heavy deep deck, blades running at high speed.

I thought I had found the best ever mowing machine in the Husqvarna GTH27V52LS. The deck just gives a drone sound when you start it up. I’m assuming because of blade speed. I know you are supposed to have adjusted the back of the deck 1/8-1/2” higher, but in my ignorance after I got it, I set it flat and have been so impressed with the cut, I never went back to adjust it. Then I ran the 757 on the same lawn and believe it cuts better. I will say cutting too high will give you a poor cut in some conditions.

Each piece of equipment has its own quirks, but I agree with the others.
  • Get the tractor/mower set up per the manual before you decide it won’t cut well.
  • New blades make the best cut.
  • Soft tires can contribute to a bad cut.
  • Light tractors can yield a wavy cut on rough lawn.
 

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I have a JD455 that cuts great but on a rough yard it scalps the high spots, tilts in on slants.

I have a Cub Cadet 1720 with a 46" deck that cuts really well, envy of my neighbors John Deere's, my other neighbor bought an XT1 because of my cut.

CCMoe
 

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@flyinghigh
I say pictures are required and more details of exactly what you mean by not smooth.

I sometimes think the 48" deck on my X534 doesn't cut evenly. But, what I am cutting is far from smooth and the X534 will tilt the deck when it turns tightly. But, I think I cuts way better than the 42" deck on my X300. It leaves an uncut strip down the middle whenever the grass is tall and it tends to scalp much more, since it only has two pretty ineffective anti-scalp wheels.
 

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Here are some pics....a day after mowing
My old 48c cut like that. Drove me nuts, trying to level it, different blades, etc. Finally flipped the deck and found all of the blade tips out of plane. One was close to 3/4". The PO hammered the deck, literally as you could see waffle patterns in the steel from using a framing hammer to straighten it out. Apparently they had hit multiple obstructions during the time they owned it.

I replaced it with a like new 48 edge deck and couldn't be happier with the cut quality.

2459853
 
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"I shouldn't have to rebalance and relevel the deck just so I can use a bagger, not to mention the sumo match that goes on installing the powerflow."
Have you never wondered how you can put 40 pounds on the end of a 48-54 inch deck and not have to go through a whole list of things to do to balance it? JD is woefully missing from this debate. They act like it is just a small adjustment when common sense tells us that it is a major change. I have had about ten PowerFlo units over my flipping career and ALL of them have had the bottom of the blower worn through from riding on the ground. This is because JD makes it sound like nothing is needed to make it work. First of all the deck lift arm on the PF unit must be raised about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch to compensate for the 40-pound weight. Then the gauge wheel has to be lowered to almost touching the ground and I mean within 1/4 inch, front and rear on the PF side. There is no way you can just bolt the unit on and start mowing. It simply defies all laws of physics to think so. Once you get the deck leveled with the PF unit on it and then take it off, guess what? It is now out of balance. Is that so surprising? The head unit weighs at least 40-pounds and it is on the outboard end of a 48-54 inch deck. I recommend that they only be used for leaves in the fall and then removed for grass cutting then you do NOT have to level the deck because leaves do not care if the deck is level or not. One other option for not having to balance the deck is to put a JD weight(43lbs) on the other end of the deck. Then you can mow and use it like normal.
 

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My 54C on my X585 cuts wonderfully. Your photos look uneven because the yard is uneven and you're scalping it on the sides. You have to straggle the hills rather than cut into them from an angle. Sometimes it means not being as efficient while mowing - but will give you the best cut. Also, these floating decks don't cut well when making turns - so try to either slow down when turning, or not cut at all on turns.
 

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"I shouldn't have to rebalance and relevel the deck just so I can use a bagger, not to mention the sumo match that goes on installing the powerflow."
Have you never wondered how you can put 40 pounds on the end of a 48-54 inch deck and not have to go through a whole list of things to do to balance it? JD is woefully missing from this debate. They act like it is just a small adjustment when common sense tells us that it is a major change. I have had about ten PowerFlo units over my flipping career and ALL of them have had the bottom of the blower worn through from riding on the ground. This is because JD makes it sound like nothing is needed to make it work. First of all the deck lift arm on the PF unit must be raised about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch to compensate for the 40-pound weight. Then the gauge wheel has to be lowered to almost touching the ground and I mean within 1/4 inch, front and rear on the PF side. There is no way you can just bolt the unit on and start mowing. It simply defies all laws of physics to think so. Once you get the deck leveled with the PF unit on it and then take it off, guess what? It is now out of balance. Is that so surprising? The head unit weighs at least 40-pounds and it is on the outboard end of a 48-54 inch deck. I recommend that they only be used for leaves in the fall and then removed for grass cutting then you do NOT have to level the deck because leaves do not care if the deck is level or not. One other option for not having to balance the deck is to put a JD weight(43lbs) on the other end of the deck. Then you can mow and use it like normal.
Your explanation of the problem you get with deck leveling putting a heavy power flow unit on a larger Deere deck is one of the reasons I like to use the Cyclone Rake. The mower deck adapter is very light and doesn’t mess with the balance of the deck as far as I have been able to notice.
 

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I can get a golf course like cut with my 62" deck, but I have it fine tuned it and don't run powerflow. I do tend to run with the scalp wheels just touching, but keep them well lubed. You do need to check the level adjustments each season.
 

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I was seriously underwhelmed with the performance of the powerflow in any event. After initial user-error problems, I tried it again. Yes, it works. For the most part. However, it clogs up WAY to easy, unless you cut your lawn twice a week. (I am sure all the rain we have been getting of late is a contributor here as well. The grass grows QUICK.) The other issue I ran into on my yard is: capacity. I didn't even make it halfway around the yard (first pass....) before the three bags were full...... Wow. Given the distance I need to go to the dump point I had in mind, I would spend more time dumping bags, than I would mowing..... Just not practical for me. (much as my wife would love to have the grass for mulch in the garden......)
 
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