MODEL: 917.374550 - Craftsman I bought this lawnmower last summer (2011) after my 1996 Craftsman finally died. I have not mowed the lawn once since with the new mower without wanting to set it on fire... 1st issue is the REAR SKIRT / DEFLECTOR. I understand the safety implication of the part, but every single time I have to pull the mower backwards a foot or so, the skirt goes under the lawnmower and gets stuck under the metal crossbar on the deck. This lifts the wheels and essentially "stops" the mower from being able to move back. If I "force" it back, the skirt digs up the yard. Frustrating is an understatement. One either has to push the mower forward or lift it and shake it to get the skirt out. But it goes right back under if you have to pull it back anymore. I've seen the threads on this issue and "raising" the height is not an option. It does this as high as at least level 6 (of 8 - I haven't tried 7 or 8). I mow at 3 or 4 (Bluegrass-Wisconsin). This has nothing to do with the self-propelled drive as the drive is disengaged and wheel freely roll backwards when this happens. It actually is because the wheel roll backwards that the skirt rolls under the mower. This issue appears to be several years old and I was wondering if there was any known "fix" for this before I take the thing back? Other is the "mulching" blade that came with the mower. This also never once "mulched" as the first 4 times I mowed (not thick or wet), it left clumps, sometimes from grass that didn't appear it was cut. I finally got so frustrated, I have been bagging ever since. I bagged maybe a half dozen times in the 15 years I had my prior Craftsman 21" walk-behind. Is there supposed to a special mulching blade?
Thank you for your question on the rear skirt and clumping problem for the mower.I understand your disappointment in the performance of the mower.Unfortunately the new design had to be made that way for safety reasons and the instructions are that when you are going to back up your mower that you will need to push down on the handles to lift the front wheels off the grass about three to four inches before you back up. As you know it is so you will not get hit with anything coming out from under the deck.This was done on purpose for safety and liability reason from people mowing with inappropriate foot ware and having to over compensate for this reason. The blade on the mower is called a three in one blade for mulching, discharging and bagging.Because of the type of grass and location you live in this is the unfortunate grass clumping mowing results you will have. Please make sure you keep the blade sharp and if you are going to mulch and not bag then we suggest that you mow more often so it will reduce the amount of grass under the deck to be mulched. It is recommended that you do not cut move than 1/3 the grass height when mulching.I wish I had a better resolution for you on these to problems but I apologize that I do not.Sam A.
I applied the larger of the 2 utility knives in the attached picture to the circular part od the rear flappy skirt and now it will pull backwards with ease. And as a note to Mr. Safety & Liability, I also use a zip-tie to hold the engine safety bar down against the handle so the lawnmower will continue to run UNATTENDED! And I still have all of my fingers and toes!
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