By: Katie McKinley
When transporting any piece of equipment, even a seemingly minor mistake can have major consequences. At Western Equipment, WE know how important your equipment is to you. That’s why WE put together this guide on how to safely secure your John Deere mower to a trailer the RIGHT way so you can have peace of mind while transporting.
Before loading your equipment, your trailer must be hitched to the vehicle. Because of this, it’s important to know the right size ball for the coupler on your trailer. A coupler is the device that connects the trailer to the vehicle hitch, so they need to be the right fit.
You can usually find this information by looking at the coupler itself. The one shown above requires a two-inch ball, which is what Brent has installed on his vehicle. Once you hook your trailer to the hitch, make sure everything is latched and pinned onto the ball prior to doing any loading. If you only have it sitting on the ball (as shown), the trailer can come off during loading and transport, which can be dangerous and make for an insecure load.
A big mistake people often make is hooking the breakaway system into the safety chain. Instead, you should hook your safety chain to your vehicle and then hook the breakaway to the same spot, making a point not to hook them into each other. This is so that if your trailer comes loose at all during transport, your braking system will be with your vehicle—not the trailer—activating those brakes like it is supposed to.
Loading Your Mower
To prepare your mower for loading, raise the mower deck up all the way and be sure to have it set in “transport mode.” This will help keep the underside of your machine from scraping as you load and unload it from the trailer. Once raised, you’re ready to load.
Go slow when advancing onto the trailer to prevent excessive jostling and added stress on the vehicle to which the trailer is hitched. After loading, pause for a second before getting off to ensure the trailer settles and stops moving.
NEVER back your mower onto the trailer for any reason. Always drive forward when loading. Because the hood on your tractor opens from back to front, the direction it’s parked on the trailer matters. You want the pressure of the wind from driving to push the hood down rather than potentially causing it to lift and tear off while going down the road.
Check the weight
It’s important to be mindful of the weight anytime you are loading equipment onto a trailer in order to know how to properly balance said equipment.
On a zero-turn mower like the one shown here, you want the rear wheels to be aligned slightly in front of the trailer tires or axle since most of your weight will be at the rear of the mower. Once properly balanced, there will be enough weight on the trailer tongue and axle to set the parking brake and shut off the engine.
On a tractor-style mower, like the one here, most of the weight will be at the front. To ensure the weight is balanced on the trailer tongue and axle and not set too far back, try to park your mower in the middle of the trailer just over the axle. This will leave plenty of room at the back.
When properly loaded and stabilized, you can turn on the parking brake and shut off the mower.
Tying Down & Securing Your Mower
Mower tie-down points
There are four points of contact when tying down both a zero-turn and a tractor-style mower. You want to tie your machine down to each of the four corners on the trailer using four straps like the one’s Brent has here. We highly recommend using ratchet straps for this job, though not all variations are created equal. Avoid the type of strap with a tension system relying on a tight pull and a rubbery surface to grip onto the strap. This doesn’t allow for a safe enough amount of tension and won’t keep your mower from jostling or coming loose during transport.
Secure the hooks of your ratchet straps onto the frame of the mower. If you can’t locate an area on your machine to mount your hooks, a good option is to loop them around the mower axle*. When doing so, loop the strap around the axle and feed the end through the hook to make a loop, as shown, then feed the same end through the ratchet to tie it down. (To see this done in more detail, check out our video below!)
On Brent's mower, there is a point at the front bolted down to the frame. This is where he chose to secure the front two hooks on his ratchet straps. There are also points at the back as well where he secured the rear straps.
Once you find your hooking points, secure all other hooks accordingly.
Trailer tie-down points
You are now ready to move on the four trailer tie-down points we mentioned earlier. To secure a strap to the trailer, feed the hook through the stake pocket and secure it there as shown here. Double check to ensure there is a good connection, then pull the slack out and create just enough tension to keep it from coming loose using the ratchet.
We advise securing the front straps first and adding minimal tension so that the mower doesn’t inadvertently move forward as you ratchet. Once the straps are installed at the back of the mower (as shown), make your way around increasing the tension on each strap until fully secure. You can pull on the straps to test the tightness.
Following these steps helps to prevent your mower from bouncing or shifting during transport.
What to do with all that extra slack
Find yourself with a lot of extra slack left over on the straps? We have a solution! There are several ways to secure the straps, but we recommend this clean and tidy method:
Gather your strap like shown and pull the remaining slack from the bottom through the loop, creating a second loop. Next, reach through the second loop to grab onto and pull up on the first loop. This will tighten both into a knot that will be easily undone by hand later but will keep your slack secure in the meantime. If you want to further secure things, tape or zip-tie the knot to the trailer. (Again, to see this done in more detail, check out our video below!)
You should always secure the slack of your ratchet straps to keep them from flying out while driving. This could potentially have dangerous repercussions such as getting caught in and jamming your trailer axle or interfering with another driver.
Now that your mower is loaded, tied down, and ready to go, you can raise and latch your trailer gate into place. If you have ramps, you’ll also want to have those put up and secured before leaving.
Unloading Your Mower
When unloading, you should go about the same steps outlined above and in our video, just in reverse! The only thing that is not opposite at this stage is the speed at which you back the mower off the trailer. SLOW and STEADY is key here. Always.
*The John Deere mower Brent is securing in the images above and in our video has a cast iron axle, but other brands may not—use your judgement to decide whether or not your mowers axle it is strong enough for this purpose.
POV: You just read this blog post and are about to head out to get yourself some new ratchet straps and tie down your mower the RIGHT way.
We want to wish you luck and remind you to check back here frequently for more John Deere how-to’s and reviews!
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