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Gravely XD21 5 year review

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by HomePC, May 11, 2017.

  1. HomePC

    HomePC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I bought the Gravely XD21 model 911270 in March of 2012. Have had it 5 years used only for residential here in the midwest. That means I've used it, on a standard 1/4acre flat lot, about once a week, for maybe 9 months a year, for 5 years. Total of about 200 times. I do the regular maintenance on it, though I do need to have the blade sharpened. I hate this thing. Here's what I think about this supposedly "commercial", "made in America" product.
    1. Engine doesn't start like it should (FJ180V-AM18). The automatic choke doesn't set. I have to prime the hell out of it to get it to start. Once it does start, it runs well and the Kawasaki engine cuts through the thickest of grass. This one does not have the manual choke or brake stop. Also, the manual says there is a fuel cut-off switch, but it does not have one. Suppose to prime twice, and let her rip. Don't work.
    2. The chassis design is terrible. This thing will side discharge fantastic. It will bag and mulch the hot summer grass well, when the grass is thinner, dryer, lighter, but the spring grasses which are thicker, moister, heavier get stuck up under the deck and start dropping out on the yard in chunks. Ugly and disgusting. I don't mulch at all anymore. I mostly side discharge, and if I do bag, I empty the bag often. Also, it has a tendency to "mowhawk" the yard.
    3. The wheels are of poor quality. For only 200 times of use, the rubber on one of the rear gear driven wheels has separated into two parts. See pictures. A replacement wheel is about $70. The front ones are not gear driven yet they run over $60 too. Why are they so expensive? I'm trying to rig my mower up to use a single drive wheel and replaced the bad wheel with a cheap one from the box store along with some spacers to make it work. I'm wondering if this will ruin the belt driven differential . Also, the rims of the wheels are constantly getting dented out of shape. I have to use a hammer to pound them back in shape.
    So having spent $800+ dollars on this thing and expecting it to last 10+ years without major issues, I'm pretty disgusted with it. From now on I am only buying the cheap box-store products every few years. My old mower was bought from Montgomery Wards and lasted 15 years. Engine still ran on it, but the wheels were falling off the chasis. That's one reason I wanted this Gravely; it was suppose to have a durable deck and wheels with bearings. Guess I should've looked closer at the rubber on the wheels. Sheesh.
    ChokeFuelThrottle.jpg Deck.jpg FrontLeftWheel.jpg LeftRearWheel.jpg LeftRearWheel1.jpg LeftSide.jpg RightFrontWheel.jpg RightSide.jpg WheelReplacement.jpg
  2. ho72

    ho72 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 29

    Wow. In the early 90's, I bought a high-wheel K-Mart mower with a Briggs IC engine for ~$200 (on sale) . In 25 years I replaced the front wheels, primer bulb and recoil rope and also patched a small hole in the deck near handle mounting bracket. I sold the mower with the house and, last I knew, the new owner was still using it.

    I would have expected at least as much from Gravely.
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  3. HomePC

    HomePC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I sent those pics to Gravely and got the response I expected from them. Spend even more money and take it to a dealer. Mow slower to keep the deck from clogging, and don't bang the wheels on landscaping. I never had to mow slow or worry about the plastic wheels on my old mower. The two front wheels might get another year, but the metal is starting to crack where I have to keep straightening them out. The other back wheel is about to fall apart too. Just to replace the back wheels, the parts alone would be $140. Not worth it for a poorly designed mower. I'm not only disappointed in Gravely, I'm pissed at them.
  4. HomePC

    HomePC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Follow up on how this mower works with just a single rear wheel driven. It doesn't pull itself very well. It acts like a limited slip differential where I have to wait a few seconds for the right wheel to kick in. Once it does, the mower doesn't pull itself as well as it did with both wheels driven. But it is a work around for now. Eventually, I'm going to strip the whole drive mechanism out of it, remove the bag cover plate and front wheels plate, and make this a lighter push mower. I can't imagine how the commercial contractors got along with this mower.
  5. HomePC

    HomePC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I'm trying to find a skin for that bad rear wheel. The hub is okay, just need a skin. Can't seem to find one. Any ideas out there?
  6. HomePC

    HomePC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    This Gravely 21" is the biggest POS of anything that I've ever come across. I'm selling it. Make me an offer. Today I can't get the MF started. It acts like it ain't getting gas, but there is gas in the tank, the line is clear. I have to prime it about 20 times to get any semblance of a start which may run from a few seconds to 30 seconds before it dies again. I know it's that cheap ass automatic choke they have on it. Biggest POS I've ever seen.
  7. sjessen

    sjessen LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Knoxville, Tn
    Messages: 4,911

    How much will you pay me to take it? Lol.
  8. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,877

    So gravely doesn't make that mower any more
    Probably a reason for that

    But in five years you've done little to no maintenance on it and you're upset with what might be about $140 repair bill?

    You have unrealistic expectations.
  9. HomePC

    HomePC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Of course I've done maintenance on it. Where'd you get the impression I didn't? But when you said 5 years, it made me realize how long I have had it. Doesn't seem that long. But the maintenance I've done is routine (oil, blade, spark plug, linkage, etc..). At the end of this season, I'm going to take it in to a shop and let them look at that engine closely. Still, I need to replace that gear driven wheel.

    I guess what I am complaining about is this expensive supposedly commercial mower hasn't lasted nearly as well for residential use as the cheap one I bought from Montgomery Wards (there's a name from the past) years ago before this Gravely. People tell me they have cheap craftsman mowers that they don't even change the oil in and they are running for 10 years plus with no maintenance. Silly me for thinking I wouldn't need to take that expensive commercial Gravely into a professional shop for an overhaul after 5 years of residential use.

    I think I've fallen into the category of "let's buy cheap and replace every 2 years" for things like appliances, tools, lawn equipment, etc.... Things just aren't made as well today.

    p.s. I did finally get the dang thing started. When it runs, it could double as a brush cutter. Mower goes through anything. Doesn't mulch well because of the deck design. I side-discharge or bag now.

    Thanx for the comments guys. Anyone else having problems with that particular FJ180V-AM18 motor?

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