25hp 61" Great Dane Chariot LX review

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Finally found time to put all this together.....

    Well, I've had the opportunity to have a dang good demo of a 25hp Kohler 61" Great Dane Chariot LX. Although this is not a top brand here, I though my experiences were worthy of entering into the old info bank here because little has been written about them since the John Deere buy-out and the design changes....

    Well to begin with, this machine was all out of whack adjustment wise when I picked it up. So I went through the deck adjustments to get it set up properly. The U-bolt adjusters between the chains and the deck are nice. It makes the adjustments easy, as do the threaded rod linkages.

    So I was all set to go with this deck.... which had a good 90 hours on the blades. Dull isn't even the word. Anyways, I really really had my doubts about this new deck, because while it is constructed really well and built of all 7 guage.... it just doesn't look like it's capable of cutting anything. This is because it is made with a built-in anti-blowout lip on the leading edge of the deck. This baffle traces the arc of the blade and the blade itself hangs just a hair below it.

    [​IMG]

    To my suprise, even despite the super dull blades, this deck actually proved to be the best part of the machine and also one of the best I have used. It's a great improvement over the old deck. It cuts great, discharges great, and stripes great. It also works great in the wet. It operates clean with no front blowout of clippings. I TAKE BACK ALL MY ASSUMPTIONS AND ALL I'VE SAID ABOUT IT.

    There is also a box section at the front of the deck. There is a flow control baffle welded in to the deck top and blow-out baffle. Although you can't see it, the flow control baffle is in there and sorta Gravely-like in shape. It does not hug the arc of the blades as closely as the rest. This is good and bad I guess. This is because there is a ledge across the whole front of the deck.

    This area clogs up when cutting wet stuff. This is a real pain to clean out, but with the extra space, it doesn't seem to effect the cut quality. The areas behind the little L things pack up also. So cleaning this deck out is no easy task. Atleast the top is smooth and bolt free.

    As for the rest of the machine, the basic style is pretty much the same as before. But the whole frame design has been changed and it is now constructed differently. Everything is still nice and low as shown here.

    [​IMG]

    Overall, the whole machine is low, but things actually are not mounted as low as they seem. As seen here, the engine and stuff is mounted on up there.

    [​IMG]

    Not having over the tire tanks sorta plays tricks on the eyes. But the fact that it doesn't have them is also a pretty nice feature. Nothing in the way and nothing to worry about. This along with the rear track width of 53-54" ....the leftover amount of the 61" deck out past the tires and the good controls makes this one of the nicest trimming machines I have used. You can trim all the way around a mailbox without bumping into anything. I just don't like the fact it is a single fill tank with no gage. But I still prefer this to the over tire tanks.

    The machine I used had the old style sticks that come up between the legs. I figured that I would hate them. But actually I really like these controls a lot. Not only were the hydros pretty good, but these controls make driving the machine a pleasure. Controling the machine and doing proper zero turns is a breeze. You are also not trapped under the sticks like you are on other machines. The only parts I found annoying is that you do have to watch the family jewels while getting on and off. You also have to look and push the controls to the neutral position to get it started. But for me, the biggest thing was that I had a real tendency to drive off with the brake still on. I never did get into the swing of doing it right for some reason. I guess I'm in the habit of the way the other machines work.

    The machine did pretty well on hills too. But it was either like glue or gone. Very hard to feel and judge when the limit was near. Every time was a surprise. But it does hang in there pretty well. This is not even the wider more stable LX shown here.

    [​IMG]

    While running it on slopes, I also noticed another nice feature of this mower. It has a beveled rear end. I never hit or drug it once starting up slopes or off of them into the flats. Nor did it ever hit anywhere working around ditch lines.

    [​IMG]

    In the end though, one thing prevented me from even considering this mower for purchase. That is the fact that the deck lift and linkages are poorly engineered. When doing all the deck adjustments, I became aware that it was physically impossible to get the machine to cut higher than 3 3/4" at maximum height. The reason being is that the bolts that hold the chains on the lift links (blace pieces) make contact with the threaded rod at this height. Furthermore, even if a lot of fabrication was done to correct this, it still would not be able to lift much higher. Great Dane uses some really tall spindle shafts and on the 61" deck there is a brace of some sort running between two routing pulleys. That brace would make contact with the rear cross axle of the lift if raised another 1/2" or so.

    So all in all, I think it's a pretty good product that is pretty poorly executed. I think John Deere should get more involved. The deck lift issues could be easily resolved. The wheel base of the 61" machine could be shortened a good 4-5" and the battery really really needs to be relocated. I'd also like to see those little L kickers as bolt in pieces. Plus it would not hurt to have a more positive neutral location on the drive sticks for easy startup.
     
  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    The deluxe full suspension seat that comes standard on this machine is AWESOME!!!!
    This is truely a luxury item on a lawnmower.
    But don't let anyone tell you that you don't need it.

    It should be against the law for MFG's to sell these mowers without them.
    It should be dubbed as STANDARD SAFETY EQUIPMENT.
    These could mean the difference in your body making it to retirement and not.

    Anyone who has said they don't ride that good or don't make that much difference DID NOT have it properly adjusted. You want it adjusted just stiff enough to carry your weight without bottoming out... just like the suspension on off-road racing vehicles (Dirtbikes/ATVs/Buggies/Trucks).
     
  3. Travis Followell

    Travis Followell LawnSite Silver Member
    from KY
    Posts: 2,207

    Envy, why would you want the machine to be 4"-5" shorter? That just means its more apt to scalp and ride rougher. Around here the ground is so rough the longer the more is the better. Thats one reason that I don't like Exmarks. They claim to be 5" shorter than other mowers and to me that only means one thing- a very rough ride.

    They do look like pretty good mowers and priced very reasonable. Around here that machine is only $6900.
     
  4. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Well, I for one do not like long mowers....

    For example, to me the Hustler Super Z has the best wheelbase setup and length for a 60' mower. (75")

    Actually long wheel bases encourage scalping. In the case of this Great Dane the answer is simple... They built this frame where it could also house the 72" deck. This results in about a 4-5" gap between the front tires and the leading edge of the deck.

    The castor placement is perfect right to left. But with the wheel base being that extra amount longer, it hinders the abilities of the mower somewhat. You have to stop or turn too soon when coming up on objects in order to compensate enough to allow the tires to clear.

    In addition, I did bottom the mower out and actually got the mower hung up and stuck. Never had a problem with any other mower in that same area. I'm sure the low deck didn't help matters any either I guess. The deck floated up and stopped against that pulley brace I mentioned.

    $6,900 is cheaper than they go for here.
     
  5. MercyMe

    MercyMe LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    I can't speak for the riders but the Super Surfers are awesome. We use them and they save us a ton of time and the quality of cut is second to none. Great striping too.

    Great Dane has big promotions in our area right now. I might look into a Chariot later this year.
     
  6. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    MercyMe,

    Are you running the Gen II Super Surfers with the new deck like is on the LX???
     
  7. txlawnking

    txlawnking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,905

    I gotta say Envy, that was an excellent review. I had a love/ hate thing with my Super Surfer. On one hand, I loved the super manuverability, compactness, and in general, just the whole stand up concept, in fact I prefer a stand up machine over a regular ztr even on a huge property.

    However, I hated #1 the deck on mine, it was the old style and it SUCKED. I also hated the deck adjustment feature, and working on the bugger was torture ( changing the oil on mine was a major PITA, and required lots of cussing and tools..).

    Maybe The new deck would fix the main prob I hated about my GD product, But even still, parts fell off of my machine because It was not properly assembled at the factory ( bolts not tight etc) ... And around here GD dealers are non exsistant, and parts availability is terrible..

    BTW, did you check to see if the blades had the spacers under them? On mine, I had the same problem as you did, however, there are spacers between the blade and the spinde that you can remove, mine had like 2" worth..

    Again, thanks for a cool review :)
     
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    txlawnking,

    Your complaints mirror mine about the Super Surfer and the previous Great Dane line in general.

    I think someone also had a brain fart at the factory on the 61" LX lift assembly.

    As for the spacers, yes it looked to have several washer thick spacers on top of the blade. But with the Gen II deck, the blade just barely hangs below that blowout baffle. Remove one of those and the blade would be above it. I would personally think that those would be for fine tuning for conditions while using the new bagging system. (also nice by the way)

    In the end though, I don't think I'd encourage you to go running back to GD just yet...
     
  9. MercyMe

    MercyMe LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    Envy.

    We have 2 olders Super Surfers and 1 new Gen. II Super Surfer. They are a major time saver for us. We prefer them to z turn riders in most conditions.

    The new Gen II has a better cutting deck but we were satisfied with the old deck as well. Both decks stripe very well.
     
  10. Mo Green

    Mo Green LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,487

    Great review.....
     

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