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Discussion Starter #1
I got about 30 hours on my new X590 and its been great, however I did run into a problem. Two of the gauge/ anti scalp wheels completely wore out. They are plastic and spin on thick metal shafts. Specifically when you turn left or right, the wheels may drag and get pushed outside to rub against metal lock nut. Add in dust from dirt and etc, the plastic literally melts with friction and rubs out.

Here is my dilemma...the 54 deck is its kind of wide so on angles or slopes, you kind of want the wheels low for an even cut. The cut is better if the deck rides the surfaces instead of floats (the lower the deck, the more 'fex' it has to adjust to ground). I have my wheels set with 3 holes visible when cutting at 3 or 3.5. Its more than 1/2 inch from the ground. Anything higher and the wheels kind of rub the deck anyways.

Here is what the manual says about setting the wheels:

Measure distance between mower wheels and ground surface. All wheels should be 6—13 mm (1/4—1/2 in.) from the ground.

I followed this and yet they wore out, so I'm a bit puzzled here. The dealer service department says the wheels should be much higher and rarely roll - they are to protect deck from scalping dirt. They replace them per warranty...it was also weird considering only 2 of them on diagonal directions wore out.

The only thing that comes to mind is I mowed our pond bank the day I noted the wheels 'bearing' melted. It was dusty, 90F, and its was a long stretch where front left wheel was definitely 'engaging.'

Anyway...long story short, I think key is make sure your mower deck wheels aren't 'overworked' on come conditions. I'm guessing maybe most people wont run into this...a bit bummed out about the mower though. Am I the only one with this unusual problem? Seems to me its unavoidable for wheels to roll unless its a perfect flat surface. I have hills and specifically got the X590 for the extra power so this feel self defeating to realize mower is good for it, but the deck isn't...maybe 48 inch would work better?
 

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I keep mine about 2 inches off of level ground when adjusting them. Those are not designed to be in ground contact or turning during mowing, only when they bump into a high spot.
Having said that, I also don't have any appreciable slopes to deal with.
 

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Mowing side slopes causes a high/low between passes unless the gauge wheels are set close to the ground. The deck tries to hang "level" so the uphill side scalps.

I put a lot of wear on mine due to that. I reamed out the center of mine and pressed bushings into them, replaced the worn bolts, and added grease zerks.
 

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My lawn is very uneven. Lots of humps and dips and the anti-scalp wheels are contacting the ground a lot. After 7 years and close to 300 hrs of mowing on my X500 the anti-scalp wheels do not show much wear at all. I'm not sure if it makes any difference but I keep my wheels lubricated with dry lubricant. That allows them to spin like they were on ball bearings yet there is no messy lube to attract dirt and debris.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yea exactly...when moving on slops sideways, one side of deck touches and rolls... its kinda unavoidable unless the wheels are set really high and then you get ugly cut that leans to one side. Doesn't matter on flat ground as the deck can just float.

Nice - that's what I was thinking: Getting real greased wheels with bearings however found nothing on google. Any details on parts you used to mod the wheels?

Another idea is if the deck didn't float. If it was fixed, it would follow the mower wheels instead of leaning, however the mower front has suspension that flexes as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm speculating that the cause of failure may have been the heat + dirt dust when mowed around pond...in the span of 1 hr of the wheels rolling, the plastic got hot and melted. I never actually inspected them prior to noticing that one was dangling though. I would think the plastic would be something more resistant to wear/melting... really makes a lot more sense if there was a metal bushing inside the wheels at least...metal+ plastic rubbing ends only 1 way...
 

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It sounds like due to your uneven yard that the gauge wheels are rolling with a lot of pressure on them for extended periods of time. They were not designed for that. I have found a solution for worn wheels and it works very well. I use 1/2-inch electrical metal conduit cut to a length so that the nut cannot tighten against the wheel and I drill out the wheel center hole with a 1/2-inch drill. I grease them and then put them together. They are not only much stronger but they never wobble. The conduit can be replaced when you see any side to side movement of any wheel. The conduit can be bought at any large hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe's. In your case, I would raise the wheels about an inch or more off of the ground.
 

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Deere designed the deck to float above the ground, so they did not design the wheels to survive extended contact with the ground. They do make a wheel that has a grease zerk. I thought this might be a good idea till I read more and was reminded what happens when you mix grease and dirt. It make an excellent abrasive paste.

I noticed that the front wheels on my 400+ hour X534 have real bearings. But, they seem to be not smooth enough and so they sometimes act more like bushings and are causing wear on the spindle too.

I like @inspectorudy solution. I might have to try that. I keep my wheels quite high, but noticed them turning when I was mowing side slope. (I have one area that is all side slope cutting.)
 

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My 2305 and 455 decks have grease-zerk gauge wheels. I also have lots of slopes incl a pond.
The wheels are supposet to be set as close to the gnd as possible but not touching. Sometimes mine are only 1/8" off the gnd. My son uses both tractors for a mowing business. Cuts 5-7 yards once a week for the last 5yrs. Each yard is anywhere from 1-3acres. A lot of use! And I have replaced all 4 wheels on my 2305 over the last 2yrs - the original ones lasted 10-12yrs.
On my 455 - the actual wheel outer was worn down and flat - 20yr old tractor. Original wheels. I replaced them only to get them to be the right diameter and rounded again.... the plastic bushing / grease was still in excellent shape after all that use.

You are supposed to grease them. Thats why there is a zerk there. I grease mine once a month during mowing season.

For the wheel to melt there are 2 main reasons: 1. lack of grease. 2. Your dwck is riding full-weight / full time on the wheels.

Fix both problems and they will last you 1000hrs....
 

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Unfortunately, most gauge wheels do not come with Zerks. Maybe on the higher-priced models but not on the cheaper ones. The good thing about adding the metal tube inside the wheels is that it can be greased and then with a washer on either end of the axle tube no or very little dirt gets into the axle area. When I mow along the bottom of a slope with a concrete sidewalk at the bottom I run the wheels all the way up. Otherwise, all of the deck weight is on them and they were never meant to handle that kind of load. On some of the older decks, they used skids instead of wheels and I think that may have been a good idea.
 

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The only concern I would have with using 1/2" EMT (which is really 5/8" ID) and something more for OD (so you will need a bigger than 5/8" bit to drill out the wheel) is that the steel is probably close to the same hardness as the spindle/holder. So, instead of just the wheel wearing out, the spindle will now be getting worn (it might take a long time and not be an issue for many people's ownership, but have you priced the wheel holders/spindles?). I looked into getting some bronze bushing material, but it is not cheap and I think I am going to wait and see how long the wheels last. If they are worn out in a year, it will be worth it. But, if it takes 5 years, it might be better to just get new wheels. The ones I replaced were worn not just in the hole, but also the outside diameter was significantly reduced/flattened. The bushing will do nothing to help that problem. This is probably part of the reason Deere doesn't bother putting a grease zerk in there anymore. The idea is that the wheel only touches the ground to prevent the deck from scalping. I am sure this works really well (ie as designed) or flat/level/non-bumpy lawns. But, that is not what happens in the real world with slope and bumps, which are part of most people's lawn.
 

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You are right bout the eventual wearing down of the bushing but I do not believe the axle will be the weakest member. From what I have found the conduit will wear out first and then with about 3 1/2 inches of the conduit you can make new ones for about 50 cents each. Also, if you already have wobbly wheels this cures it in an instant for almost no cost. Might not be for everyone but since I'm cheap and practical at the same time it works for me.
 

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Interesting discussion. My tractor is different colors, but also has plastic deck wheels, they have plastic grease fittings on them.

Just got the tractor, used. Last week I sprayed some dry Teflon lube in them, since I like the idea of not attracting grit. But I noticed they quickly went back to not really spinning smoothly.

So tonight I decided to just grease their fittings. After, they spun nice and smoothly. I just hope they won't become abrasive, since that does seem like a pretty valid concern.

Mine appear to ride on grade 5 shoulder bolts, with nuts securing them to the deck mounts. But the plastic wheels contact the deck mounts, when they slide in towards the deck. Abrasion there would start to wear those areas of the deck steel. Maybe I could find washers that would fit snugly under the bolt shoulders, so the spinning wheels would wear against a washer, rather than deck steel. Or at least just slip some sort of washer over the bolt shank, to reduce the spinning against the deck steel.
 

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I got about 30 hours on my new X590 and its been great, however I did run into a problem. Two of the gauge/ anti scalp wheels completely wore out. They are plastic and spin on thick metal shafts. Specifically when you turn left or right, the wheels may drag and get pushed outside to rub against metal lock nut. Add in dust from dirt and etc, the plastic literally melts with friction and rubs out.

Here is my dilemma...the 54 deck is its kind of wide so on angles or slopes, you kind of want the wheels low for an even cut. The cut is better if the deck rides the surfaces instead of floats (the lower the deck, the more 'fex' it has to adjust to ground). I have my wheels set with 3 holes visible when cutting at 3 or 3.5. Its more than 1/2 inch from the ground. Anything higher and the wheels kind of rub the deck anyways.

Here is what the manual says about setting the wheels:

Measure distance between mower wheels and ground surface. All wheels should be 6—13 mm (1/4—1/2 in.) from the ground.

I followed this and yet they wore out, so I'm a bit puzzled here. The dealer service department says the wheels should be much higher and rarely roll - they are to protect deck from scalping dirt. They replace them per warranty...it was also weird considering only 2 of them on diagonal directions wore out.

The only thing that comes to mind is I mowed our pond bank the day I noted the wheels 'bearing' melted. It was dusty, 90F, and its was a long stretch where front left wheel was definitely 'engaging.'

Anyway...long story short, I think key is make sure your mower deck wheels aren't 'overworked' on come conditions. I'm guessing maybe most people wont run into this...a bit bummed out about the mower though. Am I the only one with this unusual problem? Seems to me its unavoidable for wheels to roll unless its a perfect flat surface. I have hills and specifically got the X590 for the extra power so this feel self defeating to realize mower is good for it, but the deck isn't...maybe 48 inch would work better?
When set to the manual, the wheels will pretty much roll when on the yard. I too struggle to find the balance with setting the gauge wheels on my 48 Accel deck. Typically, my fronts have 3 holes showing and the rear 2. I mow usually at 3 1/4 and the wheels are slightly above the specs. When I set it to 3, the wheels are maybe a 1/4 inch off the concrete but roll and dig hard turning while mowing. And yes I was issues with getting a really flat finish unless they are pretty much on the ground. Poor designs by Deere continues on as we aren't the only ones with this issue.
 

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the wheels will roll on the yard because the grass and odd bump will push them... but all of the deck weight will not be riding on them all of the time... and that makes all the diffeence.
 

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Poor designs by Deere continues on as we aren't the only ones with this issue.
Not sure I agree. There is a limit to what can be achieved with any design.

Take a look at what the trained professionals who mainten lawns where the surface is not flat/level and quality of cut and closeness of cut is critically important, ie golf courses. They often use contour greens mowers. These are typically ganged reel mowers, with the mowers out front before any wheels can flatten the grass. They also have full length rollers behind the reel to hold the reel a set distance from the ground to cut each blade at the correct height. They also cost more than most cars and require expensive sharpening to maintain that quality of cut.

I believe Simplicity has some models that have a full width rear roller that probably gives a good cut. But, when you have a 4-5 foot wide deck, it is hard to get a great cut on property that is at all bumpy. This is why you see people working VERY hard to get a flat surface by using infill and rolling. Now, if you cut higher, you can hide some of the imperfections of the underlying surface, but if you minor depressions, the wheels of the tractor are going to go into them and the deck will tilt (unless the deck wheels stop it from doing that, but then they take some/all of the load of the deck and aren't designed to do that constantly). Since the wheels are not full width, they too can follow the imperfections of the surface. This is what you want on a large scale, but not so much for minor depressions.

This is the reason I wanted a small deck. There are spots where 48" really is too large, but because it has four deck wheels, it actually does better than my 42". But, my 21" walk-behind does even better on the uneven ground around my septic and pump tanks, which is sloped and bumpy from repairs and ground digging animals. Since I cut it at almost the highest height, it looks okay, but would look better if I filled in the low spots.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I will second that smaller decks cut better. 42 inch deck was 'more attached' to the mower since it was lighter/smaller and it would follow the tractor wheels better (not much float to it)...only had 2 anti scalp wheels and they were sparingly used, however it only had 2 blades that left an uncut line in the center. 3 blades in 48+ decks cut better (especially mulching) with downfall of extra weight and size (inducing flex)...the wheels are a bandaid to fix a problem of larger decks - the mower deck extends beyond the tractor wheels. Same reason a reel mower cuts better because of the roller.

Going from 42 inch to 54 inch deck decreased cut time significantly. You don't have to overlap as much or the extra width allows more overlap given the same number of passes. I wouldn't want to go back to smaller deck.

Can't have it all it guess...I'm sure its been said before, but I think if you're going for cut quality, you're probably best off with 48 inch deck. If they had a smaller 3 blade deck, that would be better too...maybe some 2 blade decks are better than the john deere 42 inch that I had trouble with. Before getting the X590, I read people complaining about 'keeping the 54 deck level' and didn't think too much of it... now I see what they mean.

A good quality push or reel mower would be the best cut. That's only realistic in a typical .25 acre suburban house yard though...if you're mowing 1+ acre, you need to have a larger riding mower.
 

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My Craftsman 42 inch two blade mid-mount deck has terrible high/low on side slopes unless I run the gauge wheels with full contact. That was why I put bushings in them and grease zerks.

Now that I have the front mount 44 inch three blade deck, it is no longer a problem. The deck follows the ground contours much like a zero-turn does. The front pivot guide wheels have sealed bearings.
 

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btw - replacement wheels I got for my x500 have a grease fitting which is supposed to help them last longer
 
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