View Full Version : Great dane?

09-13-2002, 06:05 PM
Local dealer quoted me a price of $6100 on a Great Dane (Chariot?). It is a 2000 model with 25 hrs. 25 horse Kohler 61" cut. I don't really know anything about these mowers except they were somehow tied to Skag. This is really more than I was wanting to spend, but I hate to pass up a real steal. This mower has been at the dealer since it was new (still get full warranty) but has had to sit outside in a covered shed at night because it won't fit in his door. The paint is a little faded but everything else is good. I'm gonna demo it Monday to see how I like it. What do ya'll (Texan for you guys!) think?

09-13-2002, 06:15 PM
I've got one with700hrs and I'd buy another in a heartbeat.

Especally at that price !!!!


09-13-2002, 07:07 PM
A friend of mine has one and loves it. If it only has 25 hrs it is not even broken in. I would buy it. However, my friend has a hard time finding accessories (striping kits, etc), so he has to make everything himself or pay to have things made. Anyway, if you like the sticks between your legs go for it, I think that is the best set up. It is easier when ducking tree limbs, etc...

09-13-2002, 07:34 PM
make sure the 25 was not of the issue ,that gave so much trouble.do a search and u will probably find what im talkin about.
noticed my exmark dealer is also going to carry the danes. pinckston. i see less chariots etc than the other popular makes that are in this area. of course the smooth controlls that some brands have
achieved ,will no doubt be on most brands in time . could be already . i havnt demowed much in couple o yrs.
one thing i shyed away from was the center controlls. i have arthuritus ,and thought that might get tiresome . dont really know tho.

09-14-2002, 03:29 AM

This has been the first thread that GD has come out on top.

Excellent Price. I gave something like $8000 4yrs ago.

Do a search on Great Dane, there are a bunch pro's and a bunch of con's.
Love the center controlls, don't have to worry about getting them into neutral. Also, they are better on your wrists. My wrists stay in a straight pos. while using it. If your wrists are bending while you're making a fist(holding onto the handles) it causes tendonitis. Might take awhile but it's true.

But then the seat, 25 vert. KOH, deck support arms all gave me some problems.

Here's a little GD history. Dan Scag started Scag mowers, then sold out and started Great Dane, then sold out to John Deere because of a copy right. I think that's how the story go's.:confused:

I should be buying new this fall or spring. I'm going to demo a new one to see if the've made some improvments. My replacment spindles are greasable now!:mad:

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 11:03 AM
I have 2 Great Dane Chariots that I bought new. They each have around 700-800 hours on them. They're good machines and they're not so good. Here's as quick a rundown on them as I can squeeze onto the forum.

I bought them for the center controls. That was the biggest selling point. And I haven't been disappointed. I've always found them to be comfy.

Many have said that the hydraulics are loose and difficult to control. The reason is that the cutting deck's support strut on the right side bumps the dump valve slightly as you mow and when you raise and lower the deck. As it loosens, control goes away. The cure? Remove the little allthreaded rod that is used to work the dump valve and use a wrench to tighten that sucker up. This is a silly design.

Mine have been very comfy, but I'm a really big guy. After a period of time, my seats have broken down and now I'm constantly hitting my hip on the parking brake support and it hurts like a mother! Another silly design.

But here's why I don't think you should buy this machine at all.

The Kohler Command 25 engine is turned one quarter of a turn around so that the right cylinder is tucked up close to the seat and this cylinder runs very hot! It is so hot that there are times when I'm mowing and I do a turn and I get a blast of heat on my left shoulder. And the heat that I feel is unbeleivable. I don't really see how any air cooled engine could take this for very long. And my history with the Chariot/Kohler combo has NOT been a happy one. Without exception, I have yet to get more than 450 hours out of one of these Kohler engines without major repairs on the right cylinder due to excess heat. And the Great Dane rep blames it on Kohler, while the Kohler rep blames it on Great Dane. Whatever, it's the LCOs that come up on the short end of the stick and this design flaw makes the machine so much of a lemon that they, at least, did the right thing by painting it a lemon color. I'm going to go out right now and take some pics so that you can see what I'm talking about. In the meantime, if I'm too late and you've already bought the machine and it's a done deal, then you should do the following:

Get a Donalson air filter AND a turbo precleaner. I don't know if a kit is available so you may have to fabricate one.

Fab on an oil cooler and an Amsoil bypass filtration system.

Switch to Amsoil synthetic oil at around 100 hours.

Clean the clippings off of the mower EVERYDAY!!

If you'll do these things, I think you'll really like the machine. It has been a good one in all other respects. However, I very much resent any MFG putting out stupid design flaws on the LCO community and then expecting us to try to make money with their products. I can't begin to count up the lost revenue due to downtime with these machines. I've made a promise to never buy another Great Dane product nor will I ever buy another Kohler product. And this is because when I had the problems that they threw on me, neither stepped up to the plate to try and help me out.

Ok, pics are coming.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 11:43 AM
Ok, I'm back.

This first pic is of the parking brake lever. If you'll notice that it's in the up position in the pic, but when it's down it leaves a sharp edge that can cause some considerable pain when you hit a bump and bounce over on to it.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 11:46 AM
Next is a pic showing the area between the back of the seat and the right cylinder on the engine. This area requires constant cleaning. That means EVERDAY. Also, as you can see, the battery cables run through here and we've had some problems keeping them from burning through.

During leaf season, this area may need to be cleaned several times per day.

09-14-2002, 11:52 AM
Hey Mowerdude, now how about some pics of the whole mower, and the awesome stripes it creates?

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 11:55 AM
Here's the air filter after ONE day of mowing. I put this filter on brand new yesterday.

I know that this is normal for a stock filter, but if you combine the speed with which this filter gets dirty, with the problem of no air flow around the right cylinder, you have a recipe for problems. You can see why I would recommend the Donalson.

When a filter gets this dirty this fast, it only takes one day to come in bone tired and forget to clean it the following day. You'll notice that I run with the filter cover off. That's because with the filter cover on, it was "out of sight, out of mind." We were forgetting. When we started running with the cover off, we could visually monitor the filter everyday. Also, with the Peco system in place, the Kohler filter cover cannot be removed. The Peco's subframe is in the way. So now there are 3 MFGs that have conspired to make my life miserable. You can imagine my surprise when I found that, after installing the Peco, I had to completely remove the stupid thing subframe and all, just to change the air filter. If I run without the cover, I can leave the Peco in place.

And BTW. It only takes one little bitty peice of trash in the carb to shut the whole thing down. We used to be able to clean the carb out in the field, but now, they've changed the design on the carb and if we try and clean it, it's never right again. We have to buy an entirely new carb. Around $200. Fun.

This particular machine has 720 hours on it and this is the 2nd engine.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 12:01 PM
Now for the other Chariot that I own, I'll start with the hour meter so you can see that I'm not exaggerating.

657 hours

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 12:06 PM
And here's my lovely Chariot in all its radiant glory! When I finally get the money to put anther engine on it, it will be its 3rd. Yes, you read right. 657 hours and 2 engines.

So Gomow, I hope I've opened your eyes.

All this money spent, all this time lost. I think that the "GD" in Great Dane also stands for something that the profanity filters on this forum will delete. I'll let the reader fill in the blanks.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 12:15 PM
Originally posted by BushHogBoy
Hey Mowerdude, now how about some pics of the whole mower, and the awesome stripes it creates?

Actually I don't know if you're kidding or not, but in all reality, it does a very good job cutting. The deck design is very nice and I've had no problems whatsoever on either machine with belts, spindles, etc other than normal maintanence stuff. And the quality of the stripes is very good.

Here in Tennessee we have a lot of turfgrasses that don't respond well to striping efforts. Also, it's late in the summer and everything is drying up, but if I get a chance, I'll take some pics of the yards that I stripe.

09-14-2002, 12:17 PM
yikes!!!!! may I ask, why would you pour all that money into that one mower to replace the engine on it when you know it's only gonna last you a few hundred hours? Maybe you could reposition the engine yourself to make it last longer? I don't think the problem is with Kohler, I would have you beleive it's Great Dane's engineering, by positioning the cylinder where there is no airflow. Some guys around here have a few of them and they seem to do real good cutting and striping. Could you post some pics of that for us?
Looks like you have gotten rain recently - lucky b@$tard$!!!

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 01:34 PM
Bush Hog

Well, at first I didn't know that their was going to be problems like these in the future. Really, how can one know? I bought one of the first Great Danes in our area. Before that I had been running a Scag 3 wheeler and it had been an excellent mower, except for the Kohler engine. When it had around 500 hours on it, it blew up. Nobody knew why so the mechanic tore it down. This was BTW a Command 20. We found a broken wrist pin, a cracked piston and a warped head. But here's the amazing thing. There are 2 heads on a Command and each head on this one was from a different casting, a different design altogether. They didn't match. And they WEREN'T mirror opposites either like some MFGs use.

Scuttlebut had it at that time, that Kohler had been suffering from a union strike at their plant. When the picket line got fed up with the scabs, they broke into the plant one night and trashed all the machinery. So in order to continue with production, workers were grabbing parts from anywhere just to be able to produce one more engine. Now this is hearsay only. It came from the Kohler rep at that time. (1993) At that time, Kohler squawked and tried to place the blame on everyone but themselves but finally honored the warranty and gave me an entirely new engine, which was very cool. Also, I was running a big Kubota, and the Kubota was doing the lion's share of the work. So I didn't run a whole lot of hours up on the Scag before I got rid of it. The reason I got rid of it was that my parents had built a house up in the country and they had a huge yard to mow. They didn't have the money to buy a commercial grade of mower and I couldn't see them fighting with a homeowner's grade of garden tractor. The Scag is very easy to drive, but it's slow compared to the newer ZTRs so I gave it to my folks and they still have it to this day. It has been perfect for my folks who are in their 70s. It still has the Kohler engine on it, but even though it's a 93 model, it's only got about 800 hours on it. This year when I had problems with both of my Chariots at the same time, I borrowed it back and promptly had the flywheel stator fly off. It cost me $500 to put it back together. I told my mom to never let me borrow it again. :D

So I bought the first Great Dane and I liked it. I've always been a beleiver in back up machines so I bought the 2nd Dane before the problems with the first started coming up. So at this point, I was a happy camper.

Then the problems started happening. We blew some head gaskets, on the first one, and then about the time we got it back, the 2nd one did the same thing. The Kohler man was the first on the scene and quickly worked to point out that it must've been something that I was doing or failing to do. At that time, the Danes were still new enough that even the Kohler man was not familiar with this problem. I didn't get the chance to face off with the man personally because the dealer worked very hard to keep us apart. I really think there would have been a fist fight over it. I really hate it when I know that I've done all the things that a man should to take care of something, and then when the thing breaks, it's always "MY" fault.

At first the warranty covered the problems. I don't know if it was Kohler that came through, or if it was my dealer, but my guys and I doubled our efforts in order to make sure that, if we were going to have problems, we would be able to say that we had done everything possible to avoid them. And the problems continued because of design flaws.

Finally the goofy machines were out from under the warranties and basically everyone thumbed their noses at me. So, by this time, I didn't have the money to buy new and I had no choice but to keep rolling with the old.

In the meantime, I had bought the Peco systems and they both had Kohler engines on them. They were good for about 1 season before they blew up and we had to rebuild. We went back through the warranty issue with the same Kohler rep trying to convince the dealer that I must be a total imbecile and yadda yadda.

The biggest commonality was the blaming on me for not keeping the air and oil filtered sufficiently. But I kept pointing out that I was working with the equipment that they sold me and with the filters that their machines came with. I kept asking why should I buy their products and then have to buy additional products to make everything live? I'm NOT an engineer, I'm a grass cutter.

In the end, I swore off both Kohler and Great Dane. And my thinking is simple. It's obvious that the Great Dane product and the Kohler product mix as well as water and oil. Also the Peco product and the Kohler product don't do any better. I don't care who's to blame, I just know it isn't me. So here you have these big companys that have really deep pockets and their wizzing contest has cost me, tne little guy, thousands.

You would think that in the interest of not having a good reputation marred, they would come in and help me out. But in the past, I haven't had a forum with which to share info. Now I do and it feels good to be able to help others such as Gomow to avoid the very costly problems and heartaches that have plagued me since I bought my first Great Dane. That's what these forums are good for.

and yes, we did get a little rain ealy this moring. :)

09-14-2002, 02:13 PM
Wow, talk about a sad story. Thats incredibly bad... Never heard anything that bad about Great Dane much less Kohler! Sounds like a good half the problem is the people you're workin with... Sorry to hear about your troubles. Thats definately bad.... They always seemed like good machines but not real popular, never heard any problems with them though, it definately sounds like you got a couple lemons there... I think you definately got screwed man.:( :mad: :blob2:

Ryan Lightning
09-14-2002, 06:38 PM
Can you put a different brand engine on it?

09-14-2002, 06:59 PM
you should be able to, Ryan but the only other air cooled engine up there with Kohler is Kawasaki and I bet the Kohler would work like a charm if you just rotated it to get the cylinder heads towards the back end of the mower.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 07:03 PM
At first I thought of turning the engine back around so that both cylinders faced the back. But there are a lot of interference problems especially with the Peco system. They such that in order to pull it all off, it's going to involve quite a bit of, no, make that a LOT of custom fabricating.

The only other engine that I think would to the job would be the Kawasaki. Bolt patterns are different, things are metric instead of SAE and I'd need a new clutch, new belts etc. All this is going to run into considerable cost. But if you'll notice, Great Dane is switching over to Kawasaki.

I think the way to go is to put it all back like it was originally, but then switch to the Donalson Air Filter, The Amsoil Bypass, put on an oil cooler and use Amsoil synthetic oil. And then clean it EVERYDAY. That's the plan at this point. But I'm looking at the Hustler Super Z as an alternative. It comes with the Donalson already and it has the Kawasaki engine. And their BacVac system is clearly superior to anything that Peco offers and it does away with the auxilary engine.

Here's a pic of the Hustler. This machine has all of the attributes of the Dane but none of the problems.

BTW, the man in the Kakhis and white shirt is our Hustler rep.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 07:07 PM
Here's a pic of the area in front of the engine and underneath the seat. It may not look like it in the photo, but this area is much more open than the Dane and get's airflow. I believe that even with the engine turned around like the Dane, cooling will be nowhere as critical with this design. Also, if this area becomes filled up with clippings, cleanup will be a snap. On the Dane, we have to remove the muffler shield. Big hassle!

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 07:10 PM
Ooops, I didn't get the pic attached correctly. Let's try again.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 07:18 PM
Final pic. This is the back of the Hustler. Here you can see that the Kawi engine is turned around like the Dane. But again, air flow is not blocked. Also, in this photo you can see the Donalson filter and the hydrostatic cooler that is force cooled by a fan. It's MFGs taking steps like these that are going to make the difference in the future. I think Hustler should be commended for raising the bar.

I think that even after I attach the BacVac, I should be able to find room for the Amsoil Bypass Filter and maybe an oil cooler.

So, to my way of thinking, why should I keep fighting with the Dane deficiencies when I can get this machine and go cut some grass and vac some leaves?

09-14-2002, 07:38 PM
Mowerdude looks like you could use one of these, and all those problems will disapere.

Biggest major problem with engines is air filtration.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 08:40 PM

Yes, I really believe you're right, as I've stated in this thread. But you know, I didn't know about these Donalson filters until just recently. Dixie Chopper has been using them for years, but we haven't seen a lot of them in our neck of the woods and when we did, I never made the connection, in my mind, that this was available for any mower. I thought it was just a Dixie Chopper thing. But I also noticed that the people claiming to get many thousands of hours on their Kohler engines were using Dixie Choppers, or at the very least, were running a Donalson. Judging by the patina on your Exmark, I'll bet that you've got a similar story to tell.

So, then: Why hasn't Kohler insisted that all the MFGs put filters like this on every Kohler powered machine? Why would any engine MFG allow the mower MFGs to drag their good name through the mud? And I stated it earlier in this thread. When I buy a machine to cut grass, any machine regardless of brand, why should I not be able to use the filters that come with it and expect it to give me a long service life without having to resort to measures that I don't know that I'm supposed to take?

I've had many many responses like yours, along with private emails from others, saying that they have Kohler powered engines with 3000, 4000, sometimes more hours on them and never a major problem. There are too many of them to label Kohler as a peice of junk. It's obvious that the Kohler engine can be a fine machine, but if we buy a Kohler powered mower that does NOT have the Donalson, and we've bought that mower because our buddies all said that it was good for many thousands of trouble free hours, doesn't Kohler share culpability if our machine bites the dust at around 350 hours, because they don't insist that the mower MFGs install extra filtration? And cannot a company as big as Kohler not build an engine with at least a modest amount of redundancy? That's really part of the issue. Obviously the Command 25 has no redundancy whatsoever, or else filtration wouldn't be anywhere close to as critical as it is. And it's got to be the lack of redundancy that explains why one engine fails at 350-400 hours while the next engine purrs along happily past 4000.

I think what I'm saying here is this. IMO and experience, Great Dane rushed their Chariot to the market too fast. Then they left it up to the poor suckers like me to do the "Beta" testing. Then after the poor suckers like me got screwed, they changed the design and fixed the problems. Meanwhile Kohler is selling engines to Great Dane while Dane has this design flaw that will cause the Kohler engine to fail long before its proper service life. And they don't step in and take an interest in changing it. Surely, they must see that when an engine fails, they will be the first to get blamed whether they are at fault or not.

The only way I can get ever get any justice is by being allowed to tell this story to others so that they may avoid this situation. Also, I think this should be a wake up call to other LCOs in that we should consider proper filtration on any machine. I would hope that either Kohler or Great Dane would read this and offer to help me work it out, if for no other reason, than to shut me the hell up!

So, Phishook, what do you think now? Has Great Dane come out on top?

Also, this is for GoMow. I'm really sorry to blow the sale for your dealer. It isn't his fault. But for your sake, I really hope that I've helped you to make the decision to pass on this deal. There will be other mowers and good deals come along. Just be patient.

AWM, you mentioned trying to make sure that this Command 25 isn't of the issue that had so many problems. Now this is a retorical question and not directed at any particular member of this forum, but, if Kohler had problems with a particular run of engines, did they also rush them to market too fast? Does Kohler not have the experience to design an engine that will work right the first time? And do they not have the R&D to work out the bugs instead of ruining their reputation and cramping our small businesses with so very expensive problems to rectify?

OH MAN, I feel better!!! It feels really good to vent on this subject that has had my stomach tied in knots for at least the last 5 years.

so LGF, how many hours you got on that Exmark?:p

09-14-2002, 09:15 PM
About 2800.

That filter is a Nelson sold under a Kohler part number.

Top Mount like pictured part number 24 743 31-S

Front mount part number 24 743 30-S

If you want to mount a Donaldson I could look up the DC part number for the elbow that you can attatch the hose to, it is about $35.

With these part numbers your dealer will have no problem getting this part for you. If he does you need to find a new dealer cause these are Kohler part numbers, for Kohler parts, for Kohler engines, that bolt right on Kohlers.

Exmark has relized this and put the Nelson's on all Kohler powered hydro mowers they sell.

As you can see Hustler has also followed suit with the Donaldson on Kawisuckies.

BTW all of my mowers but my 36" belt drive has either a Nelson or a Donaldson filter on it, all Kohlers, the 36" has a 14hp Kawi. on it.

The Mowerdude
09-14-2002, 09:32 PM
LGF, Thank you.

I'll order one for the GD that's running, first thing Monday morning. Now, I'm wondering how I can come up with one for the pony engine on the Peco? I'm sure I can come up with something before leaf season.

09-14-2002, 09:40 PM
Do you have the new latch system for the Peco? It locks and holds the door closed in the back rather than the cheezey design prior to that.

I have to get the part number but I found a much larger filter to put on the Kohler 6hp that helps, but since the new latch design haven't needed it.

09-14-2002, 11:07 PM
To heck with the great dane - lets put flex-decks on the Hustler-Natural Fit as the deck skirt hugs the blade on the trimming side - No cutting of the left front corner of the deck - just slide the Flex-Deck bracket into place, and weld.

Thanks, Bradhttp://36X-Front View-Bracket Only

09-15-2002, 01:30 AM
Hey Mowerdude, thanks for all of the info. This has been a real eye opener. I'm still gonna demo the mower Monday, if nothing else I will spend a day riding on a GD instead of standing on a sulky!

The Mowerdude
09-16-2002, 02:29 AM
Originally posted by Flex-Deck
To heck with the great dane - lets put flex-decks on the Hustler-Natural Fit as the deck skirt hugs the blade on the trimming side - No cutting of the left front corner of the deck - just slide the Flex-Deck bracket into place, and weld.

Thanks, Bradhttp://36X-Front View-Bracket Only

Well, I like your product. And I have a place for it, on a new 36 hydro WB I'm hoping to get in the spring.

But with all due respect, what the heck does your post have to do with this thread?

Not being cranky....:D .....just wondering.

Hey, I'll tell you what though, when I get the Flex-Deck, I'll give you a really good report if it's everything you say, but if it isn't and I find I've bought yet another white elephant, you know that I'll put that up as well. Ah, the pressure! :)

09-16-2002, 10:02 PM
The Mowerdude - Sorry - I did not realize that Great Dane made a ZTR - I was thinking they only make the WB's that get thru the gates.

As long as we are here, we could put a Flex-Deck on both the Great Dane and Hustler ZTR's

http://Dixie Flexed Up

10-04-2002, 03:18 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by The Mowerdude

So, Phishook, what do you think now? Has Great Dane come out on top?

Your point is proven. Over and over again.

One of my deck arms broke again. They didn't have it instock, ordered A LEFT DECK ARM and got the right!!:angry:

Then one of the little sreering shocks came loose and broke inhalf. Guess what........the dealer didn't have it in stock.:angry:

Then today....I'm not sure what went wrong yet. I think an exhaust push broke and cloged the muffler. If that's what it is, It will be the second time that's happened. Called the dealer and guess what.........No lowners....No demos.....might be able to look at it tomarrow. Leaveing me to assume the parts wont be there untill Monday!:angry:

After all said, I think I'll be talking to that eXmark dealer that Dropped G.D. I think they still service them, and I bet I could get a demo while they worked on it.:D