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Craftsman 22" Rear-Drive Self-Propelled Model 917.374550 - Problem with Rear Skirt not allowing mower to be pulled backwards

MODEL: 917.374550 - Craftsman

I bought this lawnmower last summer (2011) after my 1996 Craftsman finally died. I have not mowed the lawn once since with the new mower without wanting to set it on fire...

1st issue is the REAR SKIRT / DEFLECTOR. I understand the safety implication of the part, but every single time I have to pull the mower backwards a foot or so, the skirt goes under the lawnmower and gets stuck under the metal crossbar on the deck. This lifts the wheels and essentially "stops" the mower from being able to move back. If I "force" it back, the skirt digs up the yard. Frustrating is an understatement. One either has to push the mower forward or lift it and shake it to get the skirt out. But it goes right back under if you have to pull it back anymore. I've seen the threads on this issue and "raising" the height is not an option. It does this as high as at least level 6 (of 8 - I haven't tried 7 or 8). I mow at 3 or 4 (Bluegrass-Wisconsin). This has nothing to do with the self-propelled drive as the drive is disengaged and wheel freely roll backwards when this happens. It actually is because the wheel roll backwards that the skirt rolls under the mower. This issue appears to be several years old and I was wondering if there was any known "fix" for this before I take the thing back?

Other is the "mulching" blade that came with the mower. This also never once "mulched" as the first 4 times I mowed (not thick or wet), it left clumps, sometimes from grass that didn't appear it was cut. I finally got so frustrated, I have been bagging ever since. I bagged maybe a half dozen times in the 15 years I had my prior Craftsman 21" walk-behind. Is there supposed to a special mulching blade?

Craftsman , Lawn Mowers
3 Answers from these members:
Manage My Life
by Manage My Life
May 9th, 2012
Answered in 7 minutes
0 votes
Sam A
by Sam A Earned 21,549 community points in Craftsman
May 11th, 2012
0 votes
by BRIAN STEWART Earned 7 community points in Craftsman
June 22nd, 2013
0 votes
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