Maintain The Ideal Quality Of Cut

This is part of a continuing series of “how to” articles to help you maximize performance and productivity with Toro® products.

The difference between a clean cut and a frayed cut is easy to see. The goal, of course, is to maintain your cutting reels so that you never see torn and frayed tops on your turf. Even top-quality EdgeSeries™ and Reels+™ cutting units require maintenance to optimize cutting performance and promote the growth of healthy grass.

This article will cover topics such as knowing when reel maintenance is needed and what the maintenance steps are.

Catch It Early
Don’t wait for a drop in quality of cut. Your ears and eyes will tell you when it’s time to sharpen reels. When the cutting sounds noisier than usual, the blades likely aren’t making the clean cut you want. As blades dull or become nicked, they pinch and tear the grass rather than shear it off cleanly. If this is happening, you’ll start to see streaks in the grass, frayed tops, and stragglers.

Rather than wait until the turf is affected, a visual inspection of the cutting units will help you know when maintenance is needed. Turn the engine off and remove the key so the engine cannot be started, then check the cutting edges to see if they’re dull, bent, or nicked. You can feel the edges, but never slide your fingers lengthwise down the edge. Use Toro cutting paper (part #125-5623) to help assess cutting performance. Place the narrow strip of paper into the reel to see how well the blade cuts. If you get a sharp, clean cut just like scissors, your blade can still deliver a precision cut. If the reel has become rounded or cone shaped, then sharpening is required. In addition to checking for nicks and chips, check the bearings for any looseness, endplay, and roughness.

Take Action
When it’s time to sharpen the reels, spin grind the reel to restore its cylindrical shape. Toro recommends a 30-degree relief angle to reduce wear between the reel blade and the bedknife. When grinding the bedknife, remove small amounts of material with each pass, being careful not to overheat the bedknife. Remove only enough material to make sure the top surface is clean and true.

Toro provides handy online maintenance references, including reel mower sharpening guidelines that detail each step and a bedknives reference chart with grinding specifications. More service tips are also available, and you can view parts and service videos as well.

Don’t Settle For Less
When sharpening isn’t enough, it’s time to replace the reels. Balance is key here. To maintain the best quality of cut, replace all the reels at the same time and be sure that the setup is the same on every cutting unit. Use genuine Toro parts to ensure you’re getting the quality you need. EdgeSeries Reels and  Reels+ replacement reels are built for durable performance with reduced maintenance. We recommend replacing the bearings whenever a reel is replaced, and Reels+ make that easy because the bearings, seals and spacers already installed, saving you time.

Contact your local Toro distributor for EdgeSeries and Reels+ reels and if you have any questions about reel maintenance.

More How-To Help

The how-to series is designed to help you get the most from your Toro equipment. If you missed any of the previous articles, just click on the titles below:

Extending Equipment Life With A Fuel Stabilizer

How to Choose a Rotary Blade or Bedknife  

Tier 4 Regeneration  

Hose Maintenance 

Use Service Reminders to Ensure Timely Maintenance