With a model 54 front blade mounted to a John Deere 445 garden tractor you can clear snow, level gravel and contour landscapes. Hydraulics control the blade elevation and--optionally--the right to left angle of the blade. Deere engineered installation to be straightforward so you can get right to work. To prepare for the job, you need to remove the mowing deck. You cannot have both the deck and the blade mounted at the same time. You will find it easier to mount the blade in two stages, first mounting the front hitch assembly and then mounting the blade to the hitch.
Secure the two locking pins on the sides of the front hitch assembly into their open position. The pins are designed to snap closed when the hitch pivots into place, so they are just a bit finicky about staying in the open position.
Place the pivot bar at the base of the front hitch assembly into the two notches at the bottom front of the tractor frame. These are the same notches used for the pivot of the front draft arm of the mower deck.
Lift the front hitch assembly, rotating it on the pivot bar. When the hitch is perpendicular, turn the locking pins so that they snap in place, if they do not do so automatically. Ensure that both locking pins are securely engaged and that the hitch is correctly aligned to the frame of the tractor.
Connect the hydraulic lines from the front hitch assembly elevation cylinder to the two bottom ports of the hydraulic valve assembly located under the left foot rest. The dust caps are color-coded, but if they are missing or have been replaced by generic black dust caps, don't panic. You can easily determine the proper connection. With the elevation cylinder lines connected to the two bottom ports, start the tractor and pull the lower hydraulic control lever toward the operator's station. If the hitch goes up, the lines are properly installed. If the hitch goes down, switch the lines right to left
Raise the mower deck lift arms to their highest position and turn the deck limit control fully clockwise to lock the arms in that position. If your front hitch has elevation control only, skip the following two steps and install the blade onto the hitch.
Close the lock-out valve on the hydraulic valve assembly. The lock-out valve extends toward the left of the tractor on the left side of the valve assembly. The right-left pivot function of the front hitch shares its hydraulic circuit with the cylinder that raises and lowers the mower deck. Closing the lock-out valve isolates the flow to the front hitch assembly only, greatly improving performance. The lock-out valve is optional. If your tractor does not have the valve, it can be purchased from any John Deere dealer. Ask for part number AM118213. Clear instructions will guide you through the installation or you can have the service department at your Deere dealer do it for you.
Connect the hydraulic lines from the front hitch assembly pivot cylinder to the two upper ports of the valve assembly. As with the elevation cylinder, if the color-coded dust caps are missing, confirm correct installation by starting the tractor and operating the upper hydraulic control lever on the right side of the steering wheel. If the front hitch pivots to the left when you push the lever away from the operator's station, the lines are hooked up correctly. If it pivots to the right, reverse the lines.
Secure the locking pins on the bottom of the blade mount in their open position. Set the pivot bar of the blade mount into the notches at the top of the front hitch assembly. Lower the blade into position and turn the locking pins so that they snap into the holes in the front hitch assembly. This process is very much like a mirror image of mounting the front hitch assembly to the tractor--the pivot point just moves from bottom to top. Installation is now complete and you're ready to start pushing snow.