I will try to help you the best I can. Keep in mind, the answers may not always be what you want to here so don't shoot the messenger.
To answer the first question about the uneven cut..........
I will send you my pre-prepared "Quality of cut answer in a minute...but let me address this specific unit first.
First. The craftsman mower very rarely have a good quality of cut.
THi is one of the things that we try to tell customers when they come into our shop to look a new mowers.
Usually the mower decks are not strong enough and tend to WARP or bend in the middle and this causes the mower to cut higher on one side and lower on the other and also they usually leave a stip in the middle.
Usually the only thing that you can do is to buy a new mower deck...but beware..... the probelm will re-occur in just a motter of months.....because of the inherent flaw.
The nex thing applies to just MULCHING.
When using the mulching attachment....Especially on a mower like this or other discount store mowers that do not actually mulch very well.........YOu need to know that you ABSOLUTELY MUST mow the grass at 3". you CANNOT EVER cut it lower.....Or much higher for that matter.
M<owing lower does not allow enough AIR to flow under the mower deck to get mixed with the grass to keep it from clumoing together. Mowing too high, will create a condition where it just pushes the grass down and will not cut it evenly.
Another issue is that most people do not realize that you MUST mow at about HALF of the speed that you normally would mow if you were not mulching. It take a lit of extra time for the mower to PROCESS the clippings and if you mow too fast, it will fill the underside of the mower with grass and then the blades cannot continue to cut grass ...
Another issue is that most cutomers do not understand that ESPECIALLY when MULCHING, you have to keep the BLADES...."PERFECTLY SHARP" the blades need to be sharpend at LEAST every 10 hours of use and even more often if you are mowing in difficult conditions. A dull blade will usually just PUSH the grass down instead of cutting it.
Another issue is that the mower's engine MUST be run at FULL SPEED when cutting grass. And many times the discount store mowers like Sears, are NOT set to the correct RPM when they are sold. If the engine is not running fast enough, then the blades are not spinning fast enough to cut and mucch the grass correctly.
Another issue is when you turn a corner, you MUST ALWAYS slow WAY DOWN...... if you do not slow down to nearly a crawl, then the mower CANNOT keep up with the cutting of the grass when the mower is WHIPPED arnound the coner.
Also make sure that you ahve the TIRE PRESSURE set at the correct pressure. if they are not set PERFECTLY, the mower will not be abel to be leveled and will usually cut higher on one side than the other....soley because of the tire pressure difference.
Also when you set the LEVELING of the deck, the tip of the blade at the front should be ONLY 1/16" lower than the tip at the back. If there is ANY more difference, then it will not cut or much correctly.
OK, I think that I have covered everything, so I don;t think that I need to send you the other answer. I think that I have covered everything more in depth here that in the other answer.
Please ARROW UP to see the entire anwer.
The squeeling could be many things, but I am thinking that you have a bad bearing in one of the idler puleys.
I have confirmed tire pressure, confirmed that the blades are level from left to right, so I don' think the deck is warped. The owner's manual shows front to back at 1/8".
I understand, but when mulching it is better for it to be 1/16"
I have tried different heights and speeds. Also what about the second part of my questinos
When you look at the blades, look at all three of them and compare them to each other, they must all meet in the middle and be perfectly in line.
Sometimes it is just the nature of this mower. It really is NOT a very good mulcher......
Try mowing without the mulcher installed and see if the quality of cut is better.
It also may be just that the grass may be too tall or even too wet.
The second part of the question, I already mentined....I feel that you probably have an idler pulley that has a bad bearing.
Check them by spiining the very fast by hand...wit the belt on on... if you hear any NOISE AT ALL,,then the bearing is bad and the idler pulley should be replaed.
do you mean change the blades back to ones that side discharge or the just without the discharge cover. I have tried it without the discharge cover..it's a little better, but still has the issue
Yes, chane ot back to the origninal side discharge blades....make sure that they are sharpened CORRECTLY....
It should show a marked improvement.......but remember, you are still using a Sears mower and it will NEVER mower as good as a GOOD BRAND of mower......Sorry, but facts are facts.......
Also make sure that the engine is running at the correct RPM.......
how do I correct the RPM's
You will most likely have to take the tractor to a good mower shop....NOT SEARS.... and have them use an electrionic tachometer.
It does not take more than a couple of minutes to test.
The shop can also set it for you....but that might take a little longer than just having them take the Tachometer out to the parking lot to test the RPM.
Most of these hould be running about 3500 RPM when at full throttle.......
do you have recommendations of the top 3 -5 brands, etc
If you get me the EXACT model number off of the ENGINE.... I may be able to send you a COMPLETE engine repair manual.
It depends on what you really want or need.
There are good mowers in ALL BRANDS....depending on which one you choose.
But I would suggest Simplicity or Snapper....(These are nearly the same units.) but remember the more you spend, the better mower you will get.
It all depends on how much grass you are cutting.........
mowing 2+ acres. Is Snapper better than John Deere
AS far as MULCHING is concerned....the BEST muching mower are the TORO ZTR's...DO NOT BUY A TORO TRACTOR !!!!!!! The tor tractors are JUNK because they are made by MTD now because they wanted to have a less expensive mower. But their ZTR's are probably the best when it comes to the less expensive units. They also have VERY GOOD wuality HEAVY DUTY COMERCial units as well.
Snapper and simplicity s MUCH BETTER that John Deere if you are talking about units that sell for less than about $3500 to $4000
The John Deere mowers that are sold at Home Depot an other similar store are NOT WOTH BUYING......
Kohler pro v-twin 26 hp, model XXXXXXXXXX /p>
They were made Especially to compete "PRice-wise with the JUNK mowers tha the discount stores sell.
They have zxxx'sut the modle number. thinking it was a phone number or something.
Please send the nubmers again and we will see if it shows up.
They xxx'd out the numbers thinking it was a phone number. Please send the numbers again and see if it gets through.
Here is the service manual for the engine.http://www.kohlerengines.com/onlinecatalog/pdf/sm_32_690_01.pdf