Q&A TECH TALK Turf to Tundra

posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 in Blog

A talk with Turf Technician Jake BlakeAs much as we love mowing our lawns in perfect lines, secretly trying to meet or exceed personal mowing records each weekend, every year we face the cold, hard facts about the lawn-mowing season, and that's snow-blowing season. While the chill fall weather stunts the growth of our lawns, we have difficult decisions to make. Do I have one more mow left, or do I start preparing it for winter? Do I have time to switch the attachments over, or should I take the lawn mower to True North Equipment and free up my time and get more work at home done?
To help us with these tough decisions, we turn to Turf Technician Aaron Blake and ask him for his tips and recommendations on what to do when switching turf equipment season after season. 

When is the most common time to switch Lawn mowers over to snow blowers? 

There isn't necessarily a best time as it has to do with the weather. One year, there may be snow at the beginning of October, then the next, you may not see snow until January. I recommend that once the leaves have fallen and you have cleaned up your yard from leaves, bring your machine in for service and implement a changeover. If you are not worried about leaves and cleanup, consider the middle to end of October.

 Turf Technician Joshua Monreal

Do you install both Snow blowers and Snow Blades? Which attachment is most common? Which attachment do you recommend using?

We can install both snowblowers and snow blades just not at the same time. Most people use snowblowers to reduce drifting and snowbanks along the edge of driveways. I recommend using a snow blower as a lawn tractor does not have enough speed or weight to push a windrow over far enough.

What equipment do you perform switch overs on the most? Lawn Mowers or Compact Tractors?

We probably see mower lawn tractor switchovers than compact utilities, but not by a large margin. 

For those considering bringing their lawn tractors in for a snow blower Change over, When do you suggest customers start scheduling an install?

We are 1st come 1st served, so I recommend before the 1st snowfall because there is always a large # of machines that show up after the 1st snowfall, and people seem to get upset when there is snow in their yard and their machine is in the shop waiting to be brought in or is waiting on parts. Again, I like the middle to end of October.

What is the process you go through to prepare lawn mowers for winter? Could you give a brief check list of the process? Check/change oil > filters> check tire pressure >ect. 

I recommend having a service special performed along with a changeover. If you don't have heated storage for your machine but use your equipment for snow removal, you may want to have a lighter weight oil in your engine, particularly if you have a hard time starting in the cold. Our service special we will sharpen mower blades, grease all grease fittings, adjust all tire pressures, change engine oil, and filter, replace spark plugs, service or replace air filters, check transmission oil levels, check front axle oil levels, and visually inspect and test machine. Customers are informed if any items have a fault and given an estimate to repair the issue. If you are having an implement changeover, we will, in the fall, remove the mower deck and install the snowblower or blade and verify that cutting edges and slide shoes are in good working order, snowblower belts and pulleys are in good working order, and hydraulic-systems are in good working order. We also install the tire chains (usually just in lawn tractors) and any required weights provided by the customer. In the spring, we check over the implements and install and level the mower deck.

For those preparing their lawn mowers for winter at home, What key things do you recommend they do to get their lawn tractors ready for winter?

  1. Use a lighter-weight grease when greasing your machine for the winter. Engine oil weight should also match storage conditions, expected weather, and temperatures. 
  2. Properly installed tire chains do not need bungee cords to hold them in place. 
  3. If you notice excessive wear on items at pinned or bolted areas, they might be out of adjustment. 
  4. Check for access play in drive shafts and pulleys. If not repaired, it might be more expensive if the part fails and causes more damage throughout the machine. 
  5. Do not over-inflate a tire to tighten your tire chains. You should never exceed the maximum inflation pressure found on the tire wall. Follow the operator’s manual or service sticker on most John Deere equipment for proper levels. 

Let us help. I recommend the customer perform preventative maintenance now before it becomes expensive later.

When do you start seeing lawn mowers come in for winter to Summer conversions?

When switching machines back to summer setups, it depends on what Mother Nature wants to do. It is difficult to predict the first and last snowfall. 

I recommend using your best judgment in the spring. There have been times I thought I didn't need my snow blower and installed my mower deck. Days later, we got enough snow we needed a blade or snowblower to move the snow. As we all know, snow can get extremely heavy, too heavy to shovel.

Turf to Tundra Ending