Periodic adjustments and blade sharpening can keep a reel mower operating smoothly year after year.
Step 1: A properly aligned reel mower cuts grass evenly in a scissor-like motion, pulling the grass up between the blade and the bedknife cutting bar. Check the distance between the bedknife and blade to assure they are parallel.
Step 2: The sets of two screws found on either side of the mower are used to adjust the distance between the bedknife and blade. Turning the front screw to the right will move the bedknife away from the blade. Turning the back screw to the right will move the bedknife closer to the blade. The adjustment mechanism is very sensitive. Turn the screws less than a 1/16 of a turn as you make adjustments.
Step 3: To move one side of the bedknife closer to the blade, begin by turning the front screw slightly to the left. Then turn the back screw an equal distance to the right. Make minimal adjustments to assure proper alignment. Reverse the process to move the bedknife away from the blade.
Step 4: Use a sheet of newspaper to gauge the distance between the cutting blade and the bedknife. When the blade is turned, it should cut the paper but not tear it.
Step 5: Use the screws to move the bedknife backward or forward to ensure that the blade and the bedknife are as close as possible without actually making contact. To move the bedknife closer to the blade, loosen the front two screws first and then tighten the back two screws an equal amount. Reverse the process to move the blade farther away.
Step 6: Once the bedknife and blade are properly aligned, sharpen the blades using a reel mower blade sharpening kit.
Step 7: Place the mower on a level surface and use a screwdriver to pry a hubcap off from one wheel. Then remove the c-ring holding the wheel in place.
Step 8: Remove both the mower wheel and the pinion gear located beneath the wheel to expose the mower shaft.
Step 9: Carefully brush a liberal amount of sharpening compound onto the blade surfaces.
Step 10: Insert the crank handle into the mower shaft and turn the blades backward, away from the bedknife. There should be some resistance. Continue cranking until a fine edge forms on the front of the blades.
Step 11: Reassemble the mower, clean the blades with water and dry them with a soft rag.