A mower deck is one of the most important parts of a mower. It is found at the lower part of a mower, houses the blades, and it helps prevent the mower from spraying clipping and flying debris in all directions. However, is there a way to make a homemade mower deck?
Homemade mower decks are definitely possible and some designs are very effective. There are also multiple ways to build one. Using premade parts from other machines and combining them together is one way. It is also possible to make a homemade deck from scratch with sheets of material.
Mower decks are made from several materials and there are different types. This and more topics are covered in this article. Would you like to find out?
- 1 What Are Mower Decks Made From?
- 2 How To Build A Homemade Mower Deck
- 3 What Makes A Good Mower Deck?
- 4 Difference Between Fabricated And Stamped Mower Deck
- 5 Are Mower Decks Interchangeable With Homemade Ones?
- 6 The Final Touches On Homemade Mower Decks…
What Are Mower Decks Made From?
Generally, a mower deck is made from three main materials; plastic, aluminum alloy, and steel. The quality and strength of the deck are dependent on the material used.
Mower decks made of aluminum alloy are considered to be the best quality. This is because aluminum is rust-resistant, strong, and does not easily wear away. As expected, the mower decks made from this material are quite expensive and require more maintenance.
Steel-made mower decks are a good alternative to aluminum alloy. They are relatively strong and able to absorb shock. To prevent a steel-made mower from rusting, it is coated with powdered paint.
Although aluminum alloy is rust-resistant, you cannot compare it to plastic. However, plastic does not have the strength of aluminum.
On that note, plastic is a good choice depending on the functionality of the mower deck.
How To Build A Homemade Mower Deck
Typically, factory-made products are created to meet different needs unless customized. Customized products, on the other hand, are more expensive to acquire.
When you need a product that solves a particular problem but can’t afford a customized version, you need to find other alternatives. A homemade version is often the alternative.
The Modification Alternative
There are solutions to making your own deck for either size or shape purposes that entail combining portions of available decks. Here’s one way:
- You can buy two used Cub decks for about $25 each, depending on who the seller is.
- Afterward, you cut the left end out of one deck and split the other down the middle.
- Next, you overlap the first deck with the second by bolting, welding, and cobbling. It is not the easiest task to accomplish, but if you do, you will be able to cut your mowing time in half.
The Fabrication Alternative
For those wanting to make their own for a hobby or because they have experience and skill in manufacturing, fabricating your own from sheets of material can be an option.
It is important to note that for those simply wanting to save money, the time, tools, and expertise required could make buying a commercially available deck more cost effective.
It is not hard to imagine that your homemade mower deck will not be of the stamped variety. It will have to be a fabricated deck unless you own some very expensive and specially designed large machinery for the job. Since this is most likely not the case, welding, cutting, and punching tools will be needed and some experience using them.
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What Makes A Good Mower Deck?
There are several aspects that go into a good mower deck. To make your own homemade version, you need to keep some of these aspects in mind. So, what makes a good mower deck?
The pitch of the deck, material used to construct it, and the size of the deck all contribute into making a good mower deck better than the rest. There is also the stamped versus fabricated deck versions that can make joints or the material used stronger or weaker depending on construction.
Let’s look at these three aspects a bit more closely. It is important to get these right on any mower deck you buy and especially on homemade ones you plan to build yourself.
What Is A Good Pitch For A Homemade Mower Deck?
The pitch of a mower deck is important for a good quality cut in your lawn or the lawns of customers. The pitch from front to back develops a ‘lift’ for the grass blades under the deck and allows for a clean cut.
The pitch for a mower deck or ‘rake’ as it is sometimes called is the tilt of the deck from front to back. For a good mower deck pitch, a 1/4″ difference should be maintained from the front of the deck to the rear. This ensures proper cutting and discharge of the clippings.
This configuration can make a ton of difference in the cleanness of your cut and distribution of debris.
What is A Good Material For A Homemade Mower Deck?
There are three main materials for mower decks as discussed earlier. The use of the deck and the power of the engine will determine the type of material that should be used.
- Plastic is best used for electric motorized mowers. Their light weight make these decks good for small mowers with low power output.
- Aluminum is also a light weight, but much stronger material. Its fabrication will take considerable knowhow, extensive machinery, and quite a bit more capital.
- Steel is comparable to aluminum in strength with much less cost, but has a couple drawbacks. It is much heavier and more susceptible to rust.
What Is A Good Size For A Homemade Mower Deck?
The best size for a mower deck completely depends on the jobs that the mower will regularly handle. Too large and many spaces in a lawn cannot be reached or could be damaged. Too small and the job becomes unmanageable and very time consuming.
The best mowing deck size for commercially produced or homemade decks:
|Lawn Size||Type Of Mower||Deck Size|
|Small (<1/2 acre)||Walk Behind||40 inches or less|
|Medium (1/2 to 2 acres)||Riding||42 to 48 inches|
|Large (3 acres or more)||Riding||50+ inches|
Difference Between Fabricated And Stamped Mower Deck
An average person does not care much about certain specifics when choosing a product.
For many people, the common features and functions are all that matter. But, to get the best out of a product, you must understand the importance of every specific or at least most.
If you own or operate a mower, then you might be familiar with the terms “fabricated mower deck” or “stamped mower deck.”
Now you might be wondering what they mean and what their unique differences are.
Fabricated Mower Deck
A heavier form of steel is used to build a fabricated mower deck. Once each part has been formed, they are then coupled together.
A fabricated mower deck is a good fit for commercial mowers. It is often more rigid than its counterpart. The rigidity of the fabricated mower deck makes it less prone to wear and tear.
Different pieces of steel are welded together which creates seems. These seems are very strong, but can provide airflow and clipping buildup issues. The thickness and durability of the steel is the main factor.
Nevertheless, this does not make it superior to the stamped mower deck.
Stamped Mower Deck
Unlike the fabricated mower deck, a stamped mower deck is made from a thinner form of steel. It is used in the construction of mowers for residential environments and some commercial applications.
This thinner steel is pressed into its usable form by large machinery and are not assembled by pieces and welding. As can be imagined, the steel must be less thick than in fabricated versions to be able to be formed in this way.
Stamped mower decks are flexible, easy to use, and can have better airflow. If you only need to mow your yard or lawn, then a stamped mower deck is all you need. Your needs and financial capacity are primarily the determining factors for which mower deck to get.
Before you choose, do not forget that everything has its pros and cons.
Are Mower Decks Interchangeable With Homemade Ones?
Often a mower deck wears away faster than the mower. I know it can be quite a struggle to toss away a good product because a part of it got damaged. So, you wonder if the damaged deck can be interchanged with a good one.
Some parts of a mower deck are interchangeable with any available alternative. In comparison, some other parts would require close similarity to be interchanged. The engine, for instance, are not as easily interchangeable something like the blades.
The engine of the mower must be in good condition. You do not want to waste money trying to fix a bad mower. Some of the things to look out for includes but are not limited to:
- Oil level
- Oil quality
- Does the oil tank leak?
- Is the engine swap straightforward?
- How does the engine start?
- How does the engine run?
- Does the engine run with smoke?
If the engine checks positively to most of the points mentioned above, then you can take it a step further.
In addition to the engine health, the mower’s drive system is another important factor to consider. Make sure the drive system is in good condition. To establish the health of the drive system, check out for the following:
- Any strange noise when driving?
- How good is the belt?
- Does the mower need pushing on the hills?
- Does it drive easily?
The answer to these questions would help you determine the health of the drive system. Fixing the drive system of a mower can be quite expensive. Therefore, getting a new mower might be a better option if the drive system is bad.
Once you are sure that the mower is in a generally good condition, you can proceed to change the deck. As mentioned earlier, not all mower deck parts are easily interchangeable.
Before you swap your mower deck, consider the compatibility of the old body with the new part. Usually, the point holding the engine is standard and can only accommodate a compatible engine.
The best way to replace your mower deck with no hassle is by using the same or similar deck. Find a mower that has the same or similar deck model as yours. The engine must also be a good fit for your engine mount point.
You can find this in a store or take it out of a non-functioning mower. Remove the damaged deck from your mower and simply replace it with the new part you have at hand.
The Final Touches On Homemade Mower Decks…
Though homemade mower decks are possible, the practicality of them make their construction out of reach for most homeowners and even commercial crews. Those building them are usually farmers with many parts from other machines readily available or those looking at welding and construction as a hobby.
That being said, if you are wanting to tackle a homemade mower deck, it can be done. It is not something that comes with an instruction manual or step by step procedures. But if you are determined, you can figure it out for the specific machine you have or one you plan to build.
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