A Guide: Do Lawn Mower Blades Need To Be Timed?

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If you’ve recently got your own lawn mower, then you might be wondering about how the blades on your lawn mower actually operate.

Although it depends on the make and model of your lawn mower, you might not realize that the operation of the blades on your lawn mower is actually not as simple as you might initially think. 

Some lawnmowers, especially zero turns and lawn tractors, will actually require the blades to be timed, and there are a number of reasons for this too, although the most important use for timed blades is when the blades themselves overlap. 

So, if you want to learn more about lawn mower blades, if they need to be timed, as well as more information on timed mower blades, then this article will provide you with all of the details you need to know! 

Why Do Some Lawn Mowers Have Overlapping Blades To Begin With? 

Overlapping mower blades might seem like a strange concept, especially if you’ve only ever used your typical domestic lawn mower before.

However, for those who have had the chance to use a zero turn or a lawn tractor before, you’ll know that there is a good reason why the blades overlap. 

The idea behind an overlapping blade design is so that it ensures that all of the grass is cut, if the blades weren’t overlapping, then there would be a small strip of grass left behind, which would therefore create more effort for whoever was cutting the grass.

As a result, the overlapping blade design ensures that the grass is cut evenly. 

Typically, blades that overlap will be timed in a way that they point in different directions from each other, allowing the blades to spin perfectly without hitting one another.

This design is perfectly fine so long as everything is working well, but as you can imagine, it can go wrong very easily. 

The timing of the blades can be disrupted by something as simple as a stone being hit while mowing, and in addition to this, you also need to consider that the running timing belt will be prone to wear and tear over its lifespan, and towards the end of its life, it might begin to affect the timing of the blades, so it’s important to repair it before it goes wrong. 

What Is The Correct Position For My Lawn Mower Blades?

Knowing the correct position for your lawn mower blades is important, as it’ll help you to quickly identify whether or not they are misaligned should you hit something.

However, the problem is that each mower’s blade positioning is different from the other, so it all depends on the make and model of your mower. 

The initial orientation of the blades on your lawn mower will be determined by your manufacturer when the mower is built in the factory, and the blades will usually be held in place by alignment pins, which are used to help prevent the blades from becoming unaligned too easily. 

Although it’s common for many lawnmowers with overlapping blades to feature blades that are set parallel to one another, it’s also not completely uncommon for some mowers to opt for the north and south positioning either. 

Thankfully, the blades of a mower should be lined up perfectly when they are built, so a new machine should have no issues with alignment.

This is also helped by the fact that the blades are typically held in place with pins and spindles, so you shouldn’t have to adjust them at all upon receiving your mower, and they should be able to provide you the best cut possible straight from the factory. 

However, if your machine is slightly older, and you’re unsure of what the orientation of the blades originally was, then it should be mentioned somewhere within the instruction manual that came with your mower at the time, so it’s important not to throw the manual away! 

If you plan on working on or replacing the blades on an older mower, it’s always recommended to only remove one of the blades at a time, as this will ensure that you are able to get the correct placement when it comes to replacing the blades. 

How Can You Tell If Your Lawn Mower Blades Are Out Of Time Or Unaligned?

If you don’t have much experience with lawn mowers, then knowing whether or not your mower’s blades are unaligned or out of time can be difficult, however, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs that this might be the case, or you might end up causing more damage to your mower! 

The first way you’ll be able to tell whether or not your mower blades are out of time is the cut of the grass.

If the cut your mower provides is usually incredibly good, and all of a sudden it’s leaving a scruffy or untidy cut, then you should definitely consider inspecting your mower’s blades.

It might just be that your blades have blunted slightly, or it could be that the blades are out of time! 

A rough cut isn’t the only symptom of miss-timed blades though. If you notice that your mower is leaving a strip of grass uncut after you’ve mowed, then this is also a sign that you need to check your blades too. 

If your mower is scalping your lawn (when your grass is cut so low it exposes the stems of the grass blades), or leaving an uneven cut, then this probably isn’t anything to do with your blades, and is instead a result of an issue with the deck wheels. 

A Guide: Do Lawn Mower Blades Need To Be Timed?

Do All Zero Turns And Ride-On Mowers Have Timed Blades?

Despite many Zero Turns and other ride-on mowers utilizing timed blades, not all of them actually feature timed blades, and whether or not your mower has timed blades will depend entirely upon the make, model, and blade alignment of the mower itself. 

Many contractors who use a mower on a regular basis will tend to stay away from mowers that feature timed blades, as they can be much more hassle to fix than those with non-timed blades.

In addition to the hassle of fixing these mowers, the timing belts also tend to be much more expensive too, which is why many people prefer the ease of non-timed bladed mowers! 

Do Three Blade Mowers Have Timed Blades? 

What many people don’t realize is that mowers that feature three blades on its mowing deck do not need any form of timing or specialized orientation whatsoever.

Mowers with two blades on their deck often require the blades to overlap as it would otherwise leave a strip of grass uncut, which is why they require timing. 

However, since a three-blade deck is able to cut this leftover strip with the third blade, there is absolutely no need for the blades to overlap, and therefore no need for the blades to be timed at all. 

When it comes to deciding between a three-bladed mower and a two-bladed mower, many people will agree that the cut of a three-blade mower is definitely much better.

However, you also need to consider that a mower with three blades means that there will be a 33% increase in the amount of money spent on parts and blades. 

Three-bladed mowers can also be pretty heavy too, which can lead to scalping if they become slightly lumpy, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re particularly fussy about your lawn. 

What About Lawn Mower Blade Balance?

Another issue that might arise with your lawn mower blades is that they might become out of balance.

According to most (if not all) manufacturers, blades being out of balance will cause unnecessary stress on the engine of your lawn mower, so it’s definitely something you’ll want to keep on top of. 

When it comes to sharpening the blades of your lawn mower yourself, it’s always best to use a blade balancer as you do, otherwise you might unbalance the blades even further. 

You’ll soon be able to tell whether or not the blades of your lawn mower are unbalanced, as they’ll cause a lot of vibration, which is what causes all the stress on the engine! 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this insight into whether or not lawn mower blades need to be timed has been helpful to you.

Lawn mower ownership can be confusing, especially if you’ve only just recently purchased your first lawn mower, and it’s good to learn as much as you can about these machines as soon as possible. 

The subject of mower blades and timing is also a particularly stressful one, so the quicker you learn about it the better, as you’ll be much more prepared for when the time comes to do maintenance on your own mower! 

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