Gravely XZ

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lickliss, May 19, 2007.

  1. lickliss

    lickliss LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    I have put in about 10 hours on a demo XZ with the 30 horse V motor. This is a nice machine with excellent cut quality. My other mowers include a 260Z and a 144Z. I also use a Toro 36 WB. The Gravely XZ is not without it's quirks as are most new products. The 30 horse V idles quite differently than my Kaw powered Gravelys. Large clutch power requires the engine to be up to high idle for blade engagement. The engine throttle controls around 70% of the power in the last inch of control movement. You operate this machine at full power. The two trailing wheels leave a slightly "confused" striping pattern and can make it a bit of a challenge to sight overlap until the operator gains experience. The mower has two large plastic "fenders." Only the left "fender" is a usable fuel tank. With only one tank a reserve style petcock should be installed to avoid the "walk of shame" for fuel. At full power the mower burns approximately one gallon per hour. The right "fender" provides mounting for the control panel. I keep using the term "fender" because the 260Z has a similar control panel setup but utilizes the empty "fender" as a second fuel tank. I have pulled my 260Z control panel, the XZ controls while more extensive do not appear to penetrate the "fender" or "tank," more fuel capacity would be appreciated. The controls are mounted too low on the panel for my operational style. I have on more than one occasion knocked the key to the off position with my elbow during operation. This trick has been duplicated by every other operator, especially when maneuvering tightly around pine trees. The mower features a weight transfer control system which utilizes an advanced computer to continuously adjust the weight balance point to optimize traction. Gravely requests that this feature be left in the "on" position, so it might be beneficial to move those controls fully aft on the panel to get more room for the key/run switch and move the blade engagement/stop button up/outboard for better access. The front mounted deck is a joy to mow with, the hydraulic power is well balanced with excellent control response. Raising the deck for service is another shortcoming as a pin mus be installed and then the deck does not achieve a vertical position. This is a long mower, nearly 10 feet and trailer space will be quickly consumed. Deck height adjustment is quick and effortless with the touch of a rocker switch, I would prefer a settable stop however to assist with precise return to desired cut height. You ca quickly raise the deck to cross a curb then you must reset the height via a rotating wheel on the deck near the footrest. I really like the perceived quality and durability of my current Gravely mowers, and my dealer is the absolute best. I do think the XZ should be a more complete package given that Gravely in coming late to the outfront party should have been able to capitalize on every other brands best features. This is a nice mower that is exceptionally productive, I just wonder if version 2.0 will have resolved a few of this issues. Diesel is rumored to be in the offing. On a final note this mower was equipped with bar tires which I found to be of no major significance in hill climbing, slightly detrimental on cross hill traverse, but better during "zero turns" in the yard. I appreciate any feedback you might have.
     
  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    I appreciate the review.

    Fair, balanced and well thought out.
     
  3. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812


    So how has the mower been??
     
  4. lickliss

    lickliss LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    So far I can say O think it has been a good mowing machine. Given the choice of the 260Z and the XZ all our drivers will jump on the XZ. The outfront design is probably most responsible for this favoritism as is the "new car smell." I haven't tried to quantify it, but we do a 33 acre retirement facility with townhouse, apartment and hospital style accommodations. We typically average around 30 manhours on that job, and since we put the XZ in service I would say we are down to around 24 hours. Things change on a job that size so the mower is not entirely responsible. If they bring out diesel I plan to trade my 260 and the gas XZ in on two diesels. The fuel and time savings should almost make them "free." On the downside I have had a problem with the belt covers on the deck. Gravely is addressing the issue, the mounting bolts frequently vibrate loose and rattle. It's not a major issue, but the machine is expensive. I have also been unimpressed with the hill climbing ability of the unit. However I am not sure if it is the machine or the tires. The XZ is shod with bar tires, my 260 outclimbs it in standard issue lawn tread. Gravely sent a rep out to see where I was mowing, he couldn't climb the hill either. They recommended some tweaks to the traction control device, not a significant improvement. Many would not mow that slope on a rider. I have developed a pattern that allows for safe passes to get the job done, but we get the walkbehind out in dewy or recent rain conditions anyway. Incidentally I wrote an article for Turf Magazine on the XZ. Gravely does not in any way compensate me. My dealer is a tremendous man and has helped us build our business, if he sold other brands or switched I'd stick with him. That being said I've looked at other mowers and am quite happy with my Gravelys We operate a 144Z, 260Z and the XZ. I'm going to demo the 48 inch stander next week and try to get another article in Turf about it. I also like Stihl equipment and use their blowers and trimmers. I "moonlight" as an airline pilot and flew Navy before that so I've spent over 25 years critiquing machines of one kind or another.
    Kurt Lickiss
    Kurt & Bert's Lawn Services
     
  5. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812


    Thank you Kurt:waving: I love the outfronts:) hows the deck doing in the wet stuff?


    Do you think the other outfronts could do the hill??
     
  6. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Which outfront is supposed to have some fancy device for slope traction?
     
  7. Cooter

    Cooter LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE Iowa
    Posts: 510

    Gravely's got the fancy one, cant remember the name. Grasshopper and Exmark both have manually adjustable weight transfer. They claim the Exmark easier to adjust than the Grasshopper though.
     
  8. lickliss

    lickliss LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    I wrote the XZ article and Turf published it Aug07, it was in the Central issue which I recieve, but I think it was nationwide. Gravely has their Hydraulic Transfer System or HTS which is a "turn it on, and leave it alone" system. Initially we assumed it to be more sophisticated and believed it took up the space in the sponson or fender under the control tank. In reality the HTS is actuated by an inclinometer. That being said it does function automatically, you can feel it adjust to terrain and it does work. One of the things that seem counterintuitive at first when operating hydrostat machines is the speed issue. To climb hills it is usually best to approach with a lower speed and let the hydro balance the work load between wheel drive and accessory, in our case blade pulley or PTO. Those days of flying into a hill on your Schwinn don't really apply here. As I mentioned in my article, my biggest complaint remains the skimpy fuel load. You can run 6 hours on the XZ, so that's not a real issue, what is frustrating is that the 260 has the same tanks, the XZ is just not plumbed. On day two you have to hit the gas station even if the work is short. I believe we as consumers can and should be more pro-active on these issues. The cash outlay on these amchines is getting larger every season. I like my Gravely equipment and to date the service is flawless, but that is more my dealer than the company. When I called Gravely to research the XZ for the article, they never asked my opinion on anything. The rep who came out onsite with me never really did either. I am intrigued with the Quick 36 and would like to attend their November class. However my loyalty to my dealer is strong and I am having trouble with the idea of buying away from him. I am thinking of trying toncourage him to contact Quick to see if they have interest in a remote "authorized service site" or something. My first thought for my lawn service company was Envy, but then I got real creative with Kurt & Bert's. Funny thing is everyone I meet loves the name, go figure. Lastly I have really enjoyed this forum. The people here are really innovative and enthusiastic, but most amazingly professional and courteous. My airline pilots forum can quickly degrade, perhaps it's the state of the industry, as I know I'm happier on my mower than most days in the jet.
    Kurt Lickiss
    Kurt & Bert's Lawn Services
     
  9. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812



    Hows the deck in the wet and weeds???
     
  10. lickliss

    lickliss LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    I've not tried other outfronts on that hill. The deck is common to the 60" Gravelys. I mowed a five acre hay field with it in the rain, it got the job done. From my limited experience Gravelys handle mowing as well as any machine.
     

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