Photo: Kenneth Chen

5. Clean the Undercarriage
Use a putty knife and wire brush to scrape off the grass and mud caked on the mower deck. This prevents rust, clears the passageway to the discharge chute, and allows the aerodynamics of the deck to work as designed. With the deck cleaned, reattach the sharpened blade. Once you've finished and can turn the mower upright, fill the oil tank with fresh SAE 30 or 30-weight oil, and recycle the used oil at a service station. Don't use a thicker oil, such as 10W-40.

Q: How can I prevent grass from sticking to my rotary mower? I now have a like-new engine on a rusted-out mower deck.

— Bernard, Baltimore, MD

A: Roger Cook replies: Sounds like you'll be needing a new mower soon. Once you've done that, get in the habit of clearing out the grass and dirt after every mowing. (They hold moisture against the metal, which causes the rusting.) Do your best to brush, scrape, or wash off all the accumulated clippings from the underside of the deck, then spray a lubricant on the underside of the deck to make it easier to clean. There are sprays specially formulated for this purpose, but WD-40 also works, as does cooking spray. Reapply the spray after each cleaning to keep accumulations to a minimum.
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