I posted my first and second thoughts on the Ferris IS2500Z 61" Yanmar Diesels back in June/July of last year after using them for a month or so.
Here is that thread: http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=380504
My last comment was 7/15/12... and I had a few minor issues with them then, but overall thought for the short period of time I had them they were fabulous mowers. I think I helped my dealer sell three Ferris mowers last year (one waited until first of this season to actually buy it, but starting looking end of last season).
For the record, I own a small lawn business in south Alabama and we cut 41-42 lawns over 2-3 days per week... a few we cut every week, but most are every other week. Rarely do we cut on Mondays or Fridays, by design... as I never intended it to be a full time gig. We have been fortunate that we have not been rained out to a point we had to cut on other than Tues, Wed and Thurs. I do cut my 10-12 acres every week, sometimes on the weekends.
The first IS2500Z was purchased on 5/31/12 and has approx 350 hours. The second IS2500Z was purchased on 7/9/12 and has approx 280 hours.
As noted above, I posted my first and second thoughts. Since we have now been thru basically a season and a half of cutting, it is time for my "third" thoughts, as well as reporting on a couple of issues. Okay... maybe three or four issues. Well... maybe more than that.
I have actually been very reluctant to post this, as typically I am not one who cares to air negativity, but I believe I am at a point where I may be doing a disservice to others by not posting the issues I have had and continue to have with our Ferris mowers. Keep in mind, that these issues are not anything that I have not spent hours discussing with my dealer and a rep of Ferris Industries, who I was advised to talk with and did about six weeks ago... to no avail at this point. He has not bothered to even contact the dealer to see where we are at with our issues... nor has he bothered to call me back and ask me how things are going. I really do not think he cares, at least it certainly is not evident.
As previously stated, overall we were fairly happy with our mowers thru last cutting season, which was the latter half of the season. Things went pretty smooth with a few issues here and there that were taken care of, although aggravating from time to time. At least the ones we addressed with more concern were taken care of... particularly the things that broke.
We have a few gripes, but we have more or less learned to live with the gripes, as we figure there is not much we can do about them. The biggest gripe is the sensitivity in the steering… which we believe might be the absolute most difficult to keep on a straight line. We have been told there is no adjustment for it. Another big gripe is not being able to backup without extreme caution… not only do the wheels tear up the ground, the deck dips down and scalps the grass. Another gripe is either I have to get on the mower my other two guys use and crank it for them because they do not weigh enough to cut off the safety switch… and there is no adjustment for it... or they have to bounce up and down to get it started. At times they can press back on the seat and it will start, but on numerous occasions I will have to stop, get off my mower and get on their mower just to get it cranked. We have had a switch on order for 3-4 weeks now… and now that mower has been at the shop for 5 days because it started shutting off with us last week, to a point it was happening consistently. Now they think it may not be priming correctly... an engine issue, in addition to the switch.
We purchased a couple of the “flat free” front tires from Ferris because we torn one tire up (our fault) and another leaked air all the time. We wanted to give these a try on one mower before ordering them for the other. Within 2 months one of the flat free tire bearings wallowed out beyond repair. That is when I realized you can’t just put the OEM tire on there with the flat free tire, as it is ¼” taller than the flat free tires. Not only that, the flat free tires have squared edges, which can scar soft grown when turning around and backing up. Fortunately I had ordered another tire to replace the one that could not be repaired, so I ended up putting both of the OEM tires back on the mower. I asked the dealer 3-4 weeks ago to see about getting my money back on those flat free tires, since they are poorly designed and already failed, but have not heard anything back even after jogging his memory about them on several occasions. Of course he says it is up to Ferris.
Since owning these mowers we have had the following issues (don’t faint):
2 tensioner springs replaced on one unit, 1 tensioner spring replaced on the other (all broke)
1 eyebolt that holds tensioner spring (broke)
1 spindle (not sure what it was, but was lose and making loud racket)
3 safety switches on one unit, 2 on the other (and have had one on order for 3-4 weeks)
1 clutch plug on each unit (both broke loose at the connector and could not be repaired - it's a poorly designed plug and will eventually break again)
1 ignition switch (unit got to where it would not turn over)
12 or more lever springs on both units (they constantly break and make the steering even more loose)
2 muffler guards (broke on each mower) and they make a loud vibrating racket. One is already broke again.
1 temperature sensor (went out)
1 defective twisted belt, 1 belt had chunk came out of it, 1 belt broke
1 mower deck, which broke at the seams and wore a hole in the top (has been on order for 2-3 weeks)
We have had three instances of belts jumping off due to debris getting caught between the belt and pulleys… (finally we figured out we needed to take the covers off the top of the deck that covers the pulleys – thanks to someone else that owns a Ferris telling us about it).
In one of those belt instances, we could not get the belt out from between the bottom pulley and the motor… had to take it to the shop to lower the pulley down enough to get the belt out.
We were at our first job early one morning and a tensioner spring broke… we were 25 miles from the shop.
We were on a job mid-day when the safety switch quit working… fortunately only a few miles down the road.
We were on a job and the tensioner eyebolt broke… fortunately it was the last job of the day, but we had to take time to get it fixed the next morning before we could cut, which delayed us, as the shop does not open for an hour after our normal start time.
In a separate incident we were on a job 30 miles from the shop and just before lunch the tensioner spring broke for a second time on the same unit. We had to finish that very large job with one mower and wait on the shop to bring us another spring, which was 1.5 hours later.
We were on a job one morning that was 30 miles from the shop and the clutch disengaged. We were able to eventually figure out that the clutch plug wire had broken loose. We were able to strip the wire back, stick it back in the plug and tape it up, but did not get finished with that job before it quit working and melted the plug enough so that it could not be used again. We were less than a half mile from our last job, which is a bigger job that takes about 2.5 hours to cut with two mowers. No way to do it with one and get finished. We took the mower by the shop and had a new plug put on. I had to send my two guys back the next morning to do that job, costing me another $30 in gas and paying those guys extra to go on Friday, a day we do not normally cut.
We currently have one unit that will occasionally make a grinding noise when trying to start it… like a bad starter. It is intermittent, but a problem that is going to have to be addressed. At this point the shop does not know what it is because it hasn’t done it at the shop yet. We figure it will fail us on a job sooner or later. Seriously... why not?
We have a shock spring that keeps popping out of socket. Dealer said he will replace it… but not sure when. Parts seem to be getting scarce at Ferris. I suppose they are using them up too fast.
The parking brake on one unit will not tighten up and rolls when in park… we have to be careful that we don’t get run over if we have to stop and get off the unit for any reason. We certainly can’t stop on an incline. We have addressed this with the dealer on 3-4 occasions, but it is still a problem.
A couple of other irritating things: We can’t use the 3” height because the pin will not go all the way down and will pop out. I was cutting a yard on 3 inches and did not realize the pin had popped out until I got back around to where I started and realized I had horribly scalped the grass… at a very nice house in the country club none the less. Granted 3.25" works on that yard, but 3" should be a valid option. It was a poor design.
We no longer take on any delicate yards because the mowers are too heavy (about 4-500 pounds heavier than the gas models)… and it is impossible to turn around without scarring the ground. As a matter of fact, my dealer asked me how do we turn around in them without tearing up the ground. I told him we don’t… we have to go a mile out of the way to turn around without tearing the ground. Yes, we can do a three point turn, but we have to be very careful, because when we pull up and start to turn around, it will dip down and scalp the grass. The first time I noticed it, I was looking back over what I had cut and realized there was a very long line of consistent quarter to half moon circles on one end of a big lawn we cut where I had been turning around using the three point turn.
For the longest time I have been fiddling with one of the mowers trying to get the deck level. On some yards, particularly my own, I will notice it looks like it is cutting uneven. I don’t notice it on all yards because a lot of what we cut is bahia and you don’t notice it that much. It is mainly when we are cutting lower on the better grasses like Bermuda or centipede. I fiddled and fiddled with the level… knowing I had it level. I finally figured out what was going on. It wasn’t the deck being unlevel, it is one blade, the left blade is leaning in at an angle. The inside edge of that blade is where it is scalping lower than the other two blades. I kept thinking it was the edge, then got to looking closer one day, aggravated at how it was unlevel, and realized it was not the edge of the deck, it was a third of the way in from the edge (duh).
So… one mower has been in the shop for 5 days because it cuts off on us. One of the mechanics drove it on Friday and stated when he turned it would cut off with him. We have a full day of lawns to cut tomorrow and Thursday. We have a little more to cut than normal, because we are skipping a few that don’t really need it right now and bumped a couple to these next couple of days to keep from having to take a day and trip to cut two or three lawns. The mower is still at the shop and not fixed. The dealer does not have a loaner (or it is loaned out right now). I think he said he had too many hours on it anyway. I am livid to say the least, and let the dealer know today… I am fed up with it. Yet I am calm and have been very VERY patient.
I spoke with a rep at Ferris about 6 weeks ago and he said then that he would work with my dealer to get all of our issues resolved, but the problem is the dealer is too busy and just does not have time to spend hours on end on the phone with Ferris to resolve the issues. As we see, one mower has been at the shop for 5 days now and it is still not fixed. One switch has been on order for 3-4 weeks… a deck on order for 2-3 weeks. Every other week since I have spoken with him we have had to go by the shop to have something fixed... or not fixed yet because the parts are not here or he doesn't have time. How in the world does he think there is EVER going to be enough time to fix all these issues with a "permanent" fix? It will take fifty-eleven months for it to happen.
It is aggravating to have to deal with all these issues on a constant basis. Yes, hopefully they will be fixed under warranty, but it is the constant aggravation of having to continuously take the mowers to the shop and go back and pick them up. If I were running 5-6 days per week, I would lose jobs and simply could not run a lawn business with the issues I consistently have. Even when the issues are fixed, they return… many of them the same ole thing over and over. The warranty is going to be up before too much longer, then these issues are going to cost me a LOT more.
Not only am I frustrated, but I think my dealer is frustrated too. He has an auto shop there with the mower sales and shop. He is back-logged and his service is getting poorer by the week. It was spectacular in the beginning, but he is over-loaded… “slammed” as he calls it. Simply put... he just does not have the time to properly service these mowers.
Needless to say… I cannot imagine anyone trying to run a lawn business even part time… much less full time with Ferris mowers… particularly the IS2500Z.
What I would do to have my Grasshopper back... and the Gravely too. WHAT was I thinking? I fooled myself I guess. There is one thing for certain, and two things for sure... it WILL NOT happen again, at least not with Ferris. These are absolutely the last two I will EVER own and I plan on telling the whole world about them. I may have helped them sell a few mowers early on, but I believe their ignorance, lack of quality and lack of service will bite them... and ultimately cost them a WHOLE lot more than what they made on my two mowers and the ones I help them sell.
We are basically to a point that we believe we have about the worst mowers on the market for commercial use. I honestly believe we ended up with a couple of lemons. How much do we have to go through before enough is enough? I believe it is time to talk in detail to my attorney, as it does not seem anything else is going to work.