JD 717 Pro's & cons

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by ChadA, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. ChadA

    ChadA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 521

    Anyne who owns one or has let me know what you think. I was wondering if the 19 hp Kawi is enough when the going gets tough. Pros & cons, lets hear em'.
  2. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    The 717 was one of the best mowers I ever used, hands down. I ran mine most of the time with a mulching kit and the 19 kaw did ok in normal use but would bog in thick grass. Without the mulching kit I cut some mean bahai grass with it. This mower also has the smoothest hydros of any mower I have used/tried. BTW, the mulcher on this thing will turn leaves and straw into dust, the yard will looked bagged. My 737 does a good job but the 717 still was the better mower for small residentual yards and I cut several 4 acre yards with it with no problems. Good luck in your decision. I cant think of anything bad to say about it other than a few more horses would be nice. My local dealer has been advertising these for 5999 this week.
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,941

    I bought a 717A (48"/19 Kaw) this past May. I live in W PA, so our grass conditions are much different than those in FL. I considered a Scag Tiger Cub and Hustler Mini Z, but in the end decided upon the JD.

    I work solo, and use mine about half the time. I continue to use my 36" w/b for the other half of my work (terrain, gates, bagging needs). This means I only have a bit over 200 hours on the meter.

    I couldn't be more pleased with my choice, and I am a very picky customer. The quality of cut is very, very good. It works well even when the turf is wet, especially heavy dew in the early morning. But, in good conditions, the cut is superb, smooth and no stringers. I thought the cut from my Exmark TriAdvantage was good, but the JD does a much better job. After I made the change, some customers called me to say how great their lawn now looked with "your new mower." These are people who were customers for several years.

    I feel the 19 hp Kaw is adequate, but not much to spare. I will not consider putting a spindle-driven bagger onto the machine. I think the power isn't there for the added requirement. My intent is to never mount a bagger at any time on this mower -- I don't want those jobs that generate that much grass debris.

    The deck remains mostly clear with heavy, sappy clippings. There are a couple of places that I scrape when I sharpen blades (I sharpen after 5-6 hours of service). The same places have build-up each time, so I'm not sure if I gain anything by scraping.

    Blade changes are easy for me. I use a hi-lift jack, with a jack stand. Spindle bolts are taken out/remounted with a 15/16" socket on a ratchet. I posted some pictures a couple of months ago, but can't find the thread right now.

    Having said that, the engine runs very well. It starts very well and purrs like a kitten.

    My only con at this point is the spring loaded idler arrangement for the deck belt. The belt whip makes the idler assembly vibrate excessively when there isn't much load on the belt. I have made one change on the spring support, and have added a support to the spring in an effort to minimize the lashing of the spring. Maybe there will never be a problem, but after many hours of service, something could suffer fatigue failure. I have not read any threads on LS about this problem, so maybe I'm concerned about nothing.

    For me, at this point in the history of the machine, I am sure this was the best choice for me. I chose the JD, despite the dealer being primarily an ag equipment dealer. Dealers of other commercial mowing equipment cater primarily to commercial landscapers/grass cutters, so I may have made a mistake in this regard. After nearly 10 years of service on my Exmark w/b, it has been to the dealer one time, within the first month of new service. So, I don't consider easy, quick dealer access very important in my decision process. I can get there in the off-season for PM parts, on a casual schedule, rather than a panic one.

    Any questions about what I've said, more information about my needs and situation, feel free to PM.
  4. kmann

    kmann LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 298

    I've got the 717a and even in heavy ,wet St. Augustine it does not bog down unless you try to blow thru it at full speed, in which case almost any mower would bog down.
  5. nick21

    nick21 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    I love mine. Buy the blade height measuring tool - My cut quality was not great until I properly adjusted the pitch. I mulch and the cut is awesome.
  6. CutMe

    CutMe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I've had mine about 3 and 1/2 years now, never had a major problem with it until a few weeks ago when the whole front wheel assembly broke off. I don't know if it was bad steel or weld.
  7. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,941

    Please give more explanation about what broke, where, which wheel, etc? What was the remedy? Did the machine have to be scrapped? Was there an event that could have been the cause (e.g. significant hit of an object, wall, ...)?

    Do you think the current model (717A) has the exact same frame, or have changes been made in the construction? I think a machine of 3 1/2 years ago was a 717, but I don't know the differences. Maybe your machine did have a problem, but changes were made to prevent such failures. Or, maybe the current frame structure is the same.
  8. CutMe

    CutMe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    The right front wheel arm. It has a plate welded to the frame and another welded to the front arm. I took it to my dealer to get it fixed, Thought he would fix it for free. Was I wrong. They wanted $150 to fix it and would take 3 days. Then I took it to a local fab shop and they welded it the same day. Only cost me $53 to fix. Works fine now. The new 717a has a new frame on it so it shouldn't have a problem.
  9. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,941

    Thanks for the info. Yes, the newer frames are different.

    I asked the question because I heard of another LCO with a 3 year old 717 that "broke my frame." I was unable to get details on exactly what happened, how it happened. He was upset about it, but was willing to trade it back to the dealer for a new 757. Therefore, he (nor I) don't know the disposition of the machine. He regarded it as a "machine fatal" event, believing there was no fix. The machine only had 400 hours on the meter.

    Perhaps the dealer made a fix as you did and resold the machine. Perhaps his decision was too quick, or he just wanted an excuse to have a 60" deck, rather than a 48" one. I believe his thinking was flawed because no LCO runs 60" decks here, only large estate owners. I talked with one of his former customers after he had been using the 60" mower on his property, "... that guy may know how to cut barnyards, but sure doesn't know how to cut grass around houses."

    Thanks for the information.
  10. ChadA

    ChadA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 521

    After a two day demo I went ahead and got the unit. I was very impressed with everything about the machine. I have noticed the traction on hills insn't so good. But all I have to compare to is a WB. The funny thing is I could of bought an exmark, Toro, Hustler, DC, or a scag for the same price give or take a few bones, but nobody else would give me a demo. Like i've read on this very site many times before. Good dealer support was my deciding factor.

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