Lawn Mower Racing Parts – Steering

250x250Factory stock steering on your lawnmower is satisfactory when you are putting across the front lawn at 5 MPH, but not if a good idea is you plan on racing your lawn mower. Stock lawn mower racing parts, especially steering components, are not designed for racing speeds of 40 or 50 MPH. Imagine running down the interstate in your family sedan with only one lug nut on each of the front wheels, and you’ll understand the experience of mower racing with stock steering.

Some of the contributing factors to this instability are caster settings, loose-fitting steering rods, and gear-driven steering systems. Each of these issues is easily remedied, by tinkering with or replacing various lawn mower racing parts.

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You can improve the handling and overall speed of your racing mower by fine-tuning the camber and toe-in or toe-out of the front wheels.  Caster is the angle at which the front spindles lean forward or backward. For positive caster, the top of the spindle will lean back towards the rear of the racer. An increase in positive caster will generally make the steering feel more stable.

To understand the basic principle of caster, just visit your local grocery store and look at the front wheels of a shopping cart. As you push your cart through the store, the front wheels are always in line with the direction of travel. Well okay, except the cart you get.  The one you swear other patrons must be racing and crashing the without the proper lawn mower racing parts.

Caster stagger is achieved by using different settings on the right side versus the left. If you set the right side stagger at 1 to 2 degrees more than the left, the racing lawn mower will naturally turn left when you take your hands off the wheel. This minor lawn mower racing parts adjustment will improve the feel of the racing machine and make you quicker in the turns.

Many factory mowers are equipped with a gear-driven system. Once again, these are not designed for racing. If this unit fails at speed, you may find yourself dining on hay for lunch. You should replace the factory system with direct drive lawn mower racing parts. You can modify this yourself or purchase an entire race-ready kit from a lawn mower racing parts dealer.

If the front tires of the mower point in, this is referred to as “toe-in”. If the tires point out, the condition is called “toe-out”. Toe is calculated as the net difference between the tire centerline as measured at the front of the front tires and the tire centerline as measured at the rear of the front tires. Your family sedan may have toe-in settings of 1/8” or more.  Your race set-up should be zero toe-in or a small amount of toe-out.

Ackerman is a more complex concept which comes into play as you turn the front wheels. Since the inside tires are actually following a smaller radius as you roll through the turns, your left tire should turn more than the right tire when turning left. You can increase the Ackerman effect by reducing the length of the steering arm on the left spindle.

The steering rods on a factory mower usually consist of a bent rod inserted through a loose hole and held in place by a simple cotter pin. Back to the free hay lunch again; you must upgrade the lawn mower racing parts steering, or it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself buried in the hay bales.

To upgrade the steering rods you can purchase small tubing from a local automotive race shop. The rods are already tapped and ready for Heim-end bearings, otherwise known as spherical rod eyes. An added benefit to this set-up is the ease at which you can adjust the toe-in of your lawn mower racing parts. Repairs after that first crash also require much less effort.

For safety, you should also weld some stops on the frame. This will prevent the wheels from turning too far and locking up.

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