How To: Service Your Reel Mower

How To: Service Your Reel Mower

Sarah Rae Smith
Jun 20, 2008

Many folks these days are using Reel Mowers to manage their lawn. They require little up keep and are better for the environment by far, but have you ever wondered how to maintain them properly?
Click through the jump to see how to take care of your mower so it will last as long as your grandparent's reel mower did!

The time frame for servicing a reel mower depends mainly on how often you mow and the amount of preventative care it has received after each use.
Some mowers are able to go two years before servicing, although at least once a year is strongly suggested by most manufacturers. Twice a year is a good idea if you are mowing anything other than a 30'x30' square or have a large stick/twig population in your grass.

Preventive maintenance includes keeping your mower clean, dry and free of excess rust. The cleaner you keep it the longer it lasts. After your mower has been cleaned and dried, spray metal surfaces that may rust with a lightweight oil, penetrating oil or silicon lube for the best protection it can have!

Sticks and small rocks and nick away at your blades causing them to dull and bend your grass instead of cutting it clean. By sharpening the blades a few times a year, it allows the nicks that form to be sharpened up before they become too deep and your blades need to be taken in to a professional.

You can also purchase a blade sharpening kit from the local hardware store as well as online to help in the blade sharpening process.

To sharpen blades:

1. Do your back a favor and place your mower on a workbench.

2. Use a fine flat file or a flat sharpening stone to remove any burrs from the blade and cutter bar.

3. Apply grinding paste to the blades' cutting edges. (Taking care to keep all your digits intact)

4. Rotate the reel backward for 10 minutes to sharpen the cutter bar and the blades.

5. Remove excess grinding paste.

6. Test and adjust the mower (see below).

7. Place a piece of newspaper between the reel and cutter bar, then rotate the reel to make sure that the blade cuts smoothly. If not, adjust the mower. (Junk mail or magazine pages also work good for this!)

To adjust a reel mower:

1. Loosen and adjust each end of the roller shaft to the same height. Most units have an adjustment nut at the ends of the roller shaft.

2. Turn the reel checking for contact with the cutter bar. As needed, adjust the reel to touch but not be stopped by the cutter bar.

3. Insert a strip of newspaper between the reel and the cutter bar, then rotate the reel to verify that it cuts evenly. Adjust as needed; adjustments typically are located at each end of the cutter bar.

A little bit of elbow grease goes a long way with a mower such as this. It can not only be the first mower you buy, but the last. Now what could be more "green" than that?

Top Photo by: Ceece via Flickr

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