John Deere Maintenance Monday: Lawn mower seat safety switch
Radio interview source: Robert (Bobby) Grisso, Extension Engineer, Virginia Tech University
Maria in Utah has been shopping for a used lawn tractor and on one model, saw a lot of duct tape underneath the seat. What could the previous owner be hiding?
Bobby Grisso is an extension engineer at Virginia Tech University. He says he's heard of people putting duct tape and cardboard over safety switches to disengage them. On a lawn tractor, the switch is put under the seat. When the rider sits down, a spring is compressed which activates the switch, and the engine will start. If the rider stands up, the engine shuts off. He says it's important to be sure all safety switches are accounted for when checking over the tractor.
"A seat engagement, a clutch engagement, and even making sure that the transmission is not in a driveable-type gear," he says. "Any of those switches, the right person can disengage but it's not recommended and so a few minutes of making sure that you've got a proper piece of equipment that's working properly will mean a lot as far as safety in the future."
Don't just look at the switch and make an assumption as to whether it's working or not, try to start the mower without being in the seat.
"If you can physically get it to spin over without being in the seat, you know something's disengaged," says Grisso. "Be aware that these things are items that our manufacturers have designed in the system. If you're testing one out and all of a sudden see that it's not working, this gives you a good clue that somebody's disengaged it, or has tampered with it in some fashion."
Keep in mind the safety switch under the seat also connects to the PTO operation. The mower blade only turns when the PTO is engaged. If the switch is disengaged and the operator gets off the seat with the blade turning, it could cause an injury.
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