Change Blades (SAFELY) on Riding Lawn Mower

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Hello,
I've been doing searches, but have not been able to find anything on how to safely change the blades on a riding lawn mower. I have a new Sears 42" Limited Edition Yard Tractor coming on Monday and want to put two mulching blades on it. Weighing in at over 600 pounds, I realize I can't just lift this thing up and slap the new mulching blades on it without some kind of help.
Someone suggested a pully lift and a tree limb to raise the mower up with, but I'm not so sure I would trust a the tree limb to hold it securely. (Lot of dead looking limbs out back...)
My son-in-law left me some automotive drive-up ramps, but I was told the blade deck will not allow the tractor to get up the ramps.
He also left a floor jack and a couple of jack stands, but I'm not sure where to safely place the jack or the stands. (Don't want to damage the mower either...) Should I lift the tractor up to one side and take off one blade, let it down and lift it to the other side to get at the other? Or is there a better (safer) approach?
I sure don't want to screw this up. I did discovered there is a blade holding tool that looks like it would be worth the $8 purchase instead of faking it with my vice grips the way I have with push mowers... Any help appreciated. Thanks in advance for the reply,
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It should be possible to remove the deck from the tractor by removing a few pins or bolts in the lift mechanism and detaching the drive belt. Also, it would be a very novel but GOOD idea to read the manual when it arrives. It's quite likely that the blade changing procedure is in there, since it's pretty much a maintenance item.
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They may not get very detailed about blade changing, but they certainly should have information on how to get at them.
My Cub Cadet instructions have details on how to get the mower deck on and off. Once you got the deck off, changing blades is like changing it on any other mower. Hold blade still (somehow), and undo the nut.
I think the OP was referring to something called a "blade brake". I have one. Looks like a strange clamp made out of bent steel bar. It clamps to the deck skirt in such a way as to trap the blade tip between two bars so it can't rotate more than a bit. Blade nut removal is easy.
Mine was $6 (local hardware store was flushing their back room of odd bits).
The most popular tool in a small engines repair class ;-)
If I couldn't get the mower deck off, I'd jack up one side of the mower and install jack stands. Awkward, but doable.
[I also have a chain hoist in the garage. Could lift the whole thing ;-) But so far it's only been used to remove/reinstall the motor.]
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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Looks like you and the SIL are soon to be candidates for a Darwin award. http://www.darwinawards.com /
1 raise the deck to full height to change 2 pull the pins and take the deck off to change 3 RTFM
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

As others said, take off the deck. Given what a PITA it is to do that, I'd look for a stout limb.
--

dadiOH
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Measure the distance between the wheels (front to back). Buy an appropriate length of 2x8 lumber that you cut into pieces that match that distance. Put pieces on top of each other, nail together, and drive the tractor onto the makeshift platform.
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Andy comments:
Exactly right. It ain't rocket surgery...
Or, you can use the 2X8s to make a longer ramp to lead up your automotive ramps, if you already have them...
To be honest, the original poster has spent more time writing his post than it takes to get the lawn tractor up and crawl under it and undo the nut holding each of the blades...
Sometimes you just gotta roll up your sleeves and get started ----- and the answer becomes obvious...
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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I find sometimes that staring at the project, with beer in hand, and grumbling about it seems to help quite a bit.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

I find I can run mine out of gas, put the tractor on level ground, roll the entire tractor onto its side by grabbing the deck and lifting, and then have full access to the blades (as well as to be able to power wash the stuck grass from the underside). No damage from this maneuver, and it sure beats groping around underneath and tryign to get leverage.
Pennsylvania
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

I find I can run mine out of gas, put the tractor on level ground, roll the entire tractor onto its side by grabbing the deck and lifting, and then have full access to the blades (as well as to be able to power wash the stuck grass from the underside). No damage from this maneuver, and it sure beats groping around underneath and tryign to get leverage.
Pennsylvania
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I find sometimes that staring at the project, with beer in hand, and grumbling about it seems to help quite a bit.
------------- Joe SB
Andy comments:
Yes. That is what we technical types refer to as "brainstorming". You learn that in engineering school. Andy in Eureka, Texas
( If you have to drive clear into the next county to find a decent whorehouse, you might live in Eureka, Texas )
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I have had the same piece of junk for 10 years and tried all the options. Drop the deck.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I have no idea why you all are so hung up on this tiny aspect on a Sears tractor - I've removed the deck on ours(Electrolux/AYP Craftsman 42") several times(once or twice a year) but it's not the easy way to get the blades changed.
I just use a 9/16" wrench and reach under! I have to sharpen several times a season, so it is about a 2 minute job to get them off, 3 minutes back on. Just be sure to get the blades seated on the star and torque to spec(don't leave off the lockwashers!). In the 12 years on this machine, I've done it well over 50 times!
One recommendation on blades - get the aggressive .187" semi-high lift mulching blades("Gator", etc.). They are a lot thicker than the originals, will resist bending, and hold an edge much better.
Also, starting from new, use a good non-stick coating like SlipPlate or other graphite based product on the deck underside before 1st use - mulching & discharging will be greatly improved. Mo Deck works too, but you have to keep re-applying it(which is OK - it does keep building up in layers)
Rob
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What he said. I used to go through the pain of removing the deck until I just reached under one time and removed the bolts. It's by far the easiest way to do the job.
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Interesting. I have read all replies and comments and find them each interesting in their own way. Obviously I would read the Owner's Manual if I had one, but the tractor is not here yet. I am just trying to prepare for the eventful day when it arrives. I read somewhere else that it is quite a challenge (putting it mildly) to get the beast uncrated. And I noted the fine print today in the web page description that said "some assembly required..." I think I read somewhere that means the seat and the steering wheel, so I think I can handle that...
I found the instructions in the box with the new blades, and they seem to echo these last few replies... of simply raising the deck to the highest possible setting and then going for it. Nothing else is mentioned, other than to face the trailing edge UP towards the deck as shown.
Thanks for all the helpful tips. I look forward to cruising the yard next week. misterh
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I have to warn you that while changing the blade, there is the distinct possibility that you could get your arm dirty, or maybe even slightly scratched on the ground beneath the deck.
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I may use the 2x8 boards you suggested earlier to give me that extra couple of inches. Seemed like a pretty smart, safe idea.
misterh
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I never trusted jacks when working under cars, so I've done this numerous times when I needed just a little more space under cars.
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I either drop the deck, which is not all that hard once you get used to it, or use my car ramps and reach under. The car ramps are actually not a problem at all for me (John Deere GT262 - 3 blades). I set the ramps up at the edge of my garage where the driveway swales down just a bit (for that extra inch or 2 of room underneath). I just drive it up in 1st gear until I am just at the beginning of the flat part and then lock on the parking brake so it has no chance to move. Then I reach in from either side. I use a 2x4 that I cut to the right length (the length from the ground to the top underside of the deck) to jam the blades from turning in the direction that I am applying the wrench to.
I do get much more dirty in the quicker reaching under mode, as I am lying on the driveway and also chiseling out the grass from the deck underside. I find it to be an easier job from both a dirtiness perspective and an ease in keeping the wrench socket on the bolt perspective to remove the deck [easier to clean the deck too]. Either way is feasible though. Tomes
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