One obvious missing feature on the 54D/60D auto-connect decks is the center anti-scalp roller. Almost all mower decks of this size have center rollers.
Before we start to question the Deere engineering staff’s intelligence, let’s see if there is a better explanation.
The reason is related to the approach used to “disconnect” the deck from the tractor. The first step is to release the gauge wheels so that the deck sits on firmly on the ground.
This allows the front tractor tires to climb up onto the deck. If the deck were free to roll, the tractor would push the mower around rather than rolling up onto the deck.
Equally important is the distribution of the tractor weight on the deck while the tractor is on top of the deck. The rollers are not designed to handle the weight of the entire tractor. So, lowering the deck all of the way to the ground distributes this weight evenly around the edges of the deck.
Now that we understand why Deere didn’t include a center roller, should we be adding one ourselves? The first issue (keeping the deck from rolling while connecting/disconnecting) is a simple test. If you scoot the deck all around your yard when trying to drive up on it, then perhaps your roller isn’t working out very well!
The second issue (weight distribution when tractor on top) is more difficult. My design uses two approaches to deal with this issue:
- Mount the roller only a small distance (1/2″) below the frame of the deck. My thought was that the deck (and center roller) would flex enough to disribute the weight to at least a portion of the deck.
- Provide a mechanism to release the roller so that it flexes upwards when the deck needs to be removed. You’ll see this solution in the video. However, in practicality, I rarely/never use it, even on concrete.
So, let’s get to the solution. I bought the roller via amazon (link below). I bought a 3/16 x 1 1/2 x Length 12 (maybe 24?) at Menards. I included a link to a similar piece below.
I used a single 5/8 x 8 bolt, 2x 1/2 x 1.5 inch bolts, and a single 5/16 x 8 inch bolt. I bought lock-nuts for teh 1/2 and 5/8 bolts, and I drilled a hole in the 5/16 bolt so that I could use a cotter key for quick release.
I wanted to be able to release the roller so that the deck could lower to ‘install’ position, with the deck fully on the ground. So, the 5/16 bolt is removable. When removed, the roller can freely flex upward allowing the frame of the mower deck to sit firmly on the ground for connecting and disconnecting.
After experiments, I decided that I don’t really need this feature, but I would not have felt comfortable without it.
Here is a video showing the complete process. Hopefully this will help you design/build your own anti-scalp roller.
Your feedback is welcome. Just add a comment below!