Hopefully Keith Stieg can supply us with some pictures and more information about his kit, as it sounds like an interesting idea. But a couple of points about rollers and front mount decks need to be considered:
1) Keep in mind that the size and condition of the rear rollers (and Keith's outrigger ball shaped wheels) have a significant impact on the overall quality of cut and the cutting height of let's say the "back half" of the blades. This could be part of the problems mentioned by some folks that these decks don't produce a quality cut.
2) Properly maintained and adjusted, the 42" front mounted deck should produce a quality of cut as good as or better than any past or current mower deck. It is a true "full floating/ground following design" that just isn't found on very many, if any, current modern tractor mowers. No matter what the tractor does with respect to riding over little hills and valleys, the deck follows the ground it's trying to mow.
But the tips of all three blades MUST be in the same plane and at the same height off the ground. I position the deck on a smooth flat surface and use a 2 1/2" high block of wood (my choice for cutting height) to check the blade tip height front to back and left to right on all three blades. That assures that all three blades are in the same plane and parallel to the ground. This can be tough to do on some of these old decks, but it's the only way to get the optimum quality of cut. Worn rollers and front caster wheels, bent blades and motor shafts, and distorted decks and caster bracket arms can make this task a tough one to accomplish.
Simply having the rear roller brackets in the same holes on either side and the same spacers on both front casters will not assure proper adjustment. Ya just gotta mess with it. Even to the point of having a different numbers of fiber washers between the blade and the blade clutch to get them all in that same cutting plane.
3) I think I can understand and agree with Pete's statement that "These ball shaped wheels (not original equipment) have completely solved the rear roller bar bracket digging into the sod, and their shape allows them to slide sideways on corners. They can be seen on many modern tractor mowers."; but with the following considerations.
A) Keep in mind that the rear rollers, and Keith's wheels, definitely "slide" when turning any kind of a corner, and that's a big part of why these components will and do wear. Ideally, a "full floating" deck design such as the ET's should have had casters on the rear of the deck, as well as the front, but....
B) Yes, the ball shaped wheels "can be seen on many modern tractor mowers", but their primary purpose is to keep the deck from scalping the high and low spots in a yard. They are normally referred to as "anti-scalping wheels" and are not intended to maintain or control cutting height, as is the case with our ET decks. In fact, under normal mowing of a flat yard, these anti-scalping wheels don't even touch the ground. Virtually all modern decks simply hang from the tractor's frame, many with short pieces of chain. So in reality, even these decks follow what the tractor is doing, not necessarily what the ground is doing like a front mount ET deck.
Most of the anti-scalping wheels are made of a hard plastic that will wear very quickly on an ET deck as they are in constant contact with the ground. Most I've ever seen don't even use any kind of a bearing, just a bolt through a hole in the wheel. One exception is a polypropylene wheel sold by a company called Innotech Designs Inc. with a website address of www.lawnwheels.com. They cost about $20 each, but have sealed ball bearings and should far out last the $7 plastic ones.
I put two of these wheels on my E10 deck several years back and they seem to be holding up well. The original wheels didn't last very long on the small frame decks, as they too slid sideways when turning. The rear wheels on a small frame deck were designed to control cutting height, and the four parallel arms were meant to keep the deck parallel to the tractor, not necessarily parallel to the ground. If you let the deck hang from it's lift cables, then it works just about like any other mid-mount deck, and the rear wheels and the front skids just try to keep it from scalping.
I converted my E10 deck to a full floating design many years ago and went through a couple sets of the cheap round plastic wheels. Now it rides on two 4" urethane caster wheels up front in the middle of the deck and the two Innotech polypropylene wheels on either side in the back. They work great, so far.
Hope this helped somebody and didn't put too many of you to sleep with it's length.
Mike in KY
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