I run mine on the 322 and keep it clean. If neglected, they can block air flow and that would be bad. This is the inlet for most of the cooling air for the radiator on the engine, so it is your first defense against grass clippings and fluffy seed tops, etc. that can plug up the air flow. There is also a vertical screen (AM104124) directly adjacent to the radiator on the dash side (the side from which the air is flowing) that needs to be checked/cleaned regularly as well. Finally, the radiator fins should also be cleaned out regularly with a compressed air gun from the engine side -- forcing debris and caked on dust back out the side from which it may have entered. Pressure washing with water is not recommended near the dash harness, etc....
The cooling systems on these tractors are sized to be just enough when working properly, so keep them up to snuff.
Yes, indeed the screens are necessary to keep much of the debris from entering the under the frame area. I made one for my 322 out of 1/4" screen material until I found the factory one on Craigs list. This one I made actually worked pretty good. In fact the homemade one was cheaper & did the job!
Thanks guys. Sounds like I'll be hunting for or making a belly screen. And I guess I'll need to find that vertical rad screen too. It's frustrating that a previous owner removed both. And I just realized he took out the fuel shut off solenoid to. And the s/n is missing etc. It's gonna be a lot of work just undoing/ fixing his changes/shortcuts.
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