Seeking Clarification On Gravely X-Factor I & II Deck QOC

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The Swamp Fox

LawnSite Member
Location
Michigan
Ferris SRS Z2 Machine Design / Build Quality
First, the good:
  1. The adjustable 3-position ground speed / cruise control was a feature that intrigued me about the Ferris from the beginning, and proved its weight in gold. While it made overall control as well as striping slightly easier, it also relieved any and all hand and finger fatigue, which had proved an issue for my somewhat small hands when mowing at slower speeds using the fixed handle bars on the Gravely and Scag.

  2. The controls were smooth and responsive, and I had no issues with keeping straight lines with them. A far improvement from the Scag's controls, although not quite as buttery-smooth as the Gravely's.

  3. The adjustable suspension in the platform was a noticeable step up from both the rubber dampeners on the Pro-Stance platform as well as the two small springs on the V-Ride II. It enabled me to mow at 1-2 MPH faster than I was able to with either of the previous two machines, while feeling it less. My feet were not sore at all after spending 3-4 hours on the mower in one session.

  4. The platform-mounted operator presence safety switch was a welcome change from the Gravely's handle-mounted switch, and made ducking under trees and mowing ditches no problem.

  5. The operator cushion worked as intended, and was more comfortable for my build (5'9") than was that on the Pro-Stance. However, I found the cushion on the Scag to be the most comfortable of the three, as its angle and height proved the perfect combo to eliminate any potential for placing weight on the genitals.

  6. Deck trim side overhang measured at 4", matching the the trim side overhang on the Gravely and doubling up that on the Scag.

  7. Deck spindle covers are open on both sides, enabling the clearing of debris without the need to remove them.

  8. There's grease zerks everywhere on this thing, putting longevity and ease of operation firmly in the hand of the operator.

  9. Tie-down locations built in to the chassis on all four corners.

  10. The Z2's have been widely panned for the fuel gauge location, which requires peering down through the dash. I found this to be a non-issue. I was always easily able to check available fuel at a glance without issue, and actually consider this to be a pro.
Now, the bad:
  1. The deck is mounted offset from the machine chassis to the trim side of the deck. I assume this is to provide the 4" of trim side deck clearance beyond the rear wheels, which I can appreciate. HOWEVER, this creates an issue which I found to be somewhat major — namely, that the overhang on each side of the deck as measured from the outside of each front caster wheel differs significantly. I had such an issue with this when trying to match up my stripes that I ended up busting out a tape measure to check the difference. Long story short, the discharge side blade tip will cut a maximum of about 4" beyond the outside edge of the front caster wheel when tracking straight. But the distance from the outside edge of the trim side front caster wheel to the trim side blade tip is double that, at 8".

    In practical terms, this means that striping is made far more difficult than it should be. For example, when discharging grass onto a previous stripe, you can simply line up your discharge side caster wheel with your previous pass and allow 1-2" of uncut grass between it and your previous stripe. This gives you 2-3" of overhang and all is well with the world. But when making your next pass in the opposite direction, you will need to position your trim side front caster approximately SIX inches away from the uncut grass line to obtain the same 2-3" of deck overhang. This is difficult to judge and I found it easier to align the uncut grass line with the outside edge of the trim side anti-scalp wheel. This makes mowing less of a fun-in-the-sun experience in which you can zone out to some music and much more of a chore overall.

    It also makes for some odd-looking stripes based on wheel patterns — stripes with mating discharge side passes will have tight wheel-to-wheel stripes. But stripes with mating trim side passes will have an odd-looking 6" dead space between wheel patterns. The alternative is to run your trim side front caster the same distance from your previous stripe as you do you discharge side front caster. This gives you more consistent stripes, but you're losing a ton of efficiency to overlap. My stripe width actually looked more like what I would expect from my 42" Craftsman than they did a 52" deck for the first hour until I figured out the deck offset issue.

    This is actually my #1 issue with the Ferris SRS Z2 and the most disappointing aspect of its performance / build overall. If I stick with my decision to obtain a 52" stander, this design decision may well eliminate the Ferris from the running. I believe the 61" iCD deck wouldn't suffer from this issue. Below are some photos for sake of illustration:

    2019-10-07 Ferris SRS Z2 Demo 029.JPG
    Deck is offset from chassis to provide 4" of trim side clearance. Note the distinct lack of a trim side anti-scalp wheel(s).

    2019-10-07 Ferris SRS Z2 Demo 033.JPG
    ~4" from outer blade tip to outside of discharge side caster.

    2019-10-07 Ferris SRS Z2 Demo 031.JPG
    ~8" from trim side outer blade cutting diameter to outside edge of trim side caster.

    2019-10-07 Ferris SRS Z2 Demo 009.JPG
    This photo illustrates the inconsistent striping as a result of the offset deck. Notice the left side of the central green stripe is more or less wheel-to-wheel with the white stripe to its left. Then notice the right side of the central green stripe and the noticeable gap between it and the wheel pattern in the white stripe to the right. This is the result whenever two trim side stripes mate up.

  2. The front no-flat caster wheels scuff / divot the turf something FIERCE. I didn't have a single issue with this on the no-flats installed on the Scag or the oversized casters on the Gravely, but the Ferris casters were tearing and divoting turf on my slow 3-point turns like nobody's business. I was able to minimize this by bumping a stick slightly forward to "roll" them into a 180-degree turn, but they would still move dirt. I don't have the front casters on the Scag or Gravely in front of me to compare them, but I'm left to wonder whether the Carlisle Reliance 13x5.00-6/3.25's on the Ferris are far more square-shouldered or something. Maybe the front casters are carrying more weight... hard to say. But the difference was nothing short of astounding.

  3. The anti-scalp wheels on the deck leave much to be desired. First and foremost, they aren't adjustable. Second, there is NO anti-scalp wheel on the discharge side of the leading edge of the deck (see first photo above). It appears it was left out due to interference with the discharge side caster wheel. Third, the anti-scalp wheels on the deck rear sit in the very center, and IMO allow far too much side-to-side tipping of the deck rear:

    2019-10-07 Ferris SRS Z2 Demo 034.JPG
    The rear anti-scalp wheels are centrally located, set too shallow, and allow too much side-to-side tipping.

  4. Many others have already touched on the poorly-labeled deck height adjustment mechanism, so this is nothing new. But it's really shocking how unintuitive it truly is. Both of my local dealers that I asked to point out a specific cut height gave me conflicting (and incorrect) answers, and had to stare at it for a minute or two before even answering. Checking or adjusting your cut height shouldn't be hard — but Ferris managed to make it so. Yikes.

    2019-10-07 Ferris SRS Z2 Demo 037.JPG

  5. Traction was great going up hill, but nothing special on side hills. Up hill, the Ferris exceeded all expectations and was better than both the Scag and Gravely. But the Gravely held side-hills better than did the Ferris, which caught me off-guard. Overall traction was slightly worse than expected.

  6. The muffler heat shield / deck belt guard is not removable, making belt changes and top-of-deck access more difficult than need be. The Scag had a tool-less plate and the Gravely a flip-up platform, both of which would be an improvement over the Ferris.

  7. The hour meter is in an absurd location on the engine side of the dash, making it difficult / impossible to check from the operator platform. Fine for tracking general maintenance intervals, not so good for monitoring specific yard cut times or calculating fuel economy.

  8. The oil filter is more difficult to access than most.

  9. I wish the deck height adjustment mechanism was on the right, as pulling it left-handed requires more effort than did the right-handed mounts on the Scag and Gravely.

  10. The location of the fender-mounted battery and deck-height mechanism, coupled with the lack of a flat deck shield plate in front of the engine seem to preclude any easy propane bottle mounting options. This is a major con for me, as I am strongly considering a propane-powered primary mower for operational cost and marketing reasons.
 
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The Swamp Fox

LawnSite Member
Location
Michigan
Ferris SRS Z2 Demo Final Thoughts
I had high expectations for the Ferris SRS Z2 with the 28 HP B&S Vanguard EFI and a 52" deck based on reading many reviews and watching many videos online. I was extremely disappointed to find that the Z2 fell far short of those expectations for me. In terms of cut quality, expectations were met. Striping was great, as was wet grass cutting performance. Cut heights of greater than 3.5" in fine fescue did seem to result in some slight vacuum issues, however.

Certain aspects of the machine build were as expected. The adjustable ground speed cruise control bar worked really, really well for relieving hand fatigue and giving you absolute control. The suspension in the operator platform was also a big boon.

The single biggest con for me was the offset deck and the issues that posed with inconsistent stripe patterns. When coupled with the poorly-thought out and non-adjustable anti-scalp wheels and the divot-producing front casters, mowing with the Ferris proved to be an exercise requiring far, far more concentration than did the Gravely Pro-Stance.

After demoing the Scag V-Ride II, Gravely Pro-Stance, and Ferris SRS Z2, I put the Gravely Pro-Stance ahead of the Scag V-Ride II and Ferris Z2 overall, primarily for its user-friendliness, ease of maintenance, controls feedback, and traction. Its wet cut quality is sub-par, but dry cutting performance is right there.

The Ferris SRS Z2 had what I believe to be the best cut quality and some user-friendly features, but also some major cons which drop it to just below the Gravely in my overall rankings. Wet cut quality is great, but the deck offset issue is maddening.

Has anybody else experienced the issues on the Ferris SRS Z2 52" posed by the offset deck, anti-scalp wheels, or divot-producing front casters? Am I perhaps blowing this issue out of proportion? Maybe these become non-issues with more time on the machine. Interested to hear the feedback of others on this particular aspect.

Maybe I should re-think my decision to go with a 52" stander and consider the Ferris SRS Z2 with a 61" iCD deck, which may not have the same deck offset and anti-scalp wheel issues.

The Scag V-Ride II controls which make you feel like you're driving a bat outta hell simply make the machine a no-go for me. Small trim side deck clearance (2"), difficult blade changes requiring a wrench on both sides of the spindle bolt, and poor traction drop if even further in the rankings. At this point this machine is a distant third for me.

John Deere Quik-Trak 652R demo still to come, although I'm told that will have to be "supervised" by the dealer. Sounds like fun...
 
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fatboynormmie

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
balto md
Great write ups on your findings there Swamp Fox. I really don’t think there is a perfect mower. There is always something that could be changed to make the machine better.

I think the controls on the Scag and the deck over hang on the Ferris are all things that after 40 hrs of run time would probably be a non issue any longer. Or as I say you become one with the machine.

For Me I LOVE the foot deck lift on the ProStance and never use the handle on the right side. The controls are buttery smooth like you say and it’s pretty easy to work on. Saying that though I would have no issues running a Scag or the Ferris Stander and seeing your reviews they all seem pretty close in performances .

I think you gotta get some more demos and document this segment out for 52”/54”standers. You seem fair with your assessments and point out the good and bad as you find it and I appreciate that! Maybe get your hands on a JD,Wright and maybe even the new CubCadet Stander and put them through the Swamp Fox evaluation battle testing. Lol
 
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douglee25

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
TX
Good reviews. Your Z2 notes surprise me. I'll be honest, I didn't even realize the deck was offset. It doesn't bother me in the least though. I too use the anti scalp wheel to line up the next row or just eye ball it up with the caster inside the cut edge. Either way, your stripes look great to me from the pictures, but maybe seeing it in person would shed something else.

I am a firm believer that ever mower needs to be gone over with a fine tooth comb before using. I bought two new mowers this year (one being a demo with 16 hours) and neither one was setup correctly. The blade pitch was off, the height didn't correspond to the actual number on the deck height setting, the blades were dull, and the tires were over or under inflated. Once I fixed this on both machines, they worked beautifully.
 
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The Swamp Fox

LawnSite Member
Location
Michigan
I think the controls on the Scag and the deck over hang on the Ferris are all things that after 40 hrs of run time would probably be a non issue any longer. Or as I say you become one with the machine.
When it comes to the controls on the Scag, I'll never say never... but the learning curve would be awfully steep IMO. It seems as if I remember reading about the pump-and-motor controls on the Scag being inferior in handling response to the transaxle design on other systems, but I don't have a link to prove it.

In regard to the offset deck issue on the Ferris, @douglee25 dug up a photo of a 2017 Ferris Z2 with the 61" iCD deck for me and it appears that it too is offset to the trim side, so upgrading deck sizes won't resolve this particular issue.

I've continued to demo the Ferris Z2 over the last several days, and have come to the conclusion that my original concern with the deck offset may have been overblown. I'm just an efficiency nut and hated the idea that you couldn't use the same reference point on both sides of the deck (front caster wheels) as a guide or you'd lose major efficiency to overlap.

Now that I'm cognizant of the offset issue and am using the outer edge of the trim side anti-scalp wheel as a reference point to the uncut grass line rather than the trim side caster wheel, I measured the width of the stripes I laid down the other day and tallied 46-49", so I'm not losing too much to overlap.

I think you gotta get some more demos and document this segment out for 52”/54”standers. You seem fair with your assessments and point out the good and bad as you find it and I appreciate that! Maybe get your hands on a JD,Wright and maybe even the new CubCadet Stander and put them through the Swamp Fox evaluation battle testing. Lol
Although I'm definitely interested in doing my due diligence, I doubt I'll cover every unit on the market. I've written off the Wright Standers already due to the fact that there are no dealers in my area and I've read less-than-stellar things about the AeroCore deck. I'll probably let my demo of the John Deere 652R Quik-Trak speak for Wright, since I've read that it's basically a re-badged Wright stander. I've also read and seen enough from the Husqvarna stand-ons to know that I'm not interested.

That said, I am interested in the Bradley 52SC and the new Kubota SZ26-52 stander, which apprently first came to market this year, and which I just discovered existed today.

Bradley is based in IL and doesn't have a very extensive dealer network. As an experienced DIY grease monkey, that doesn't bother me from a support perspective, but it makes a demo unlikely. As luck would have it, my local Ferris dealer is also a Bradley dealer, but only carries walk-behinds in stock. I'll have to see if he could arrange to get a stand-on demo unit.

In regard to the Kubota SZ26-52, I'm always reticent to buy the first-gen of any powered equipment due to the overall lack of reviews. That said, I came away very impressed from my initial review of the machine build, configuration, and specs. Check out the attention to design and customization:
  1. Tool-less adjustable front reference bar (like the Ferris)
  2. Tool-less control lever tracking adjustment
  3. 3-position control lever dampening adjustment, allowing the operator to fine-tune controls sensitivity
  4. ZT-3600 transaxles rated for 11/4 mph (forward/reverse), making it faster than even the Scag V-ride II
  5. Rear Tire Size — 23x10.5-12"
  6. Blade Tip Speed — 18,450 RPM
  7. HOC Range — 1.5–4.5"
  8. Deck trim side bumper
  9. Tool-less spindle covers
  10. Dash-mounted fuel gauge and hour meter
I have several Kubota dealers near me, and have seen a majority of LCO's across state lines running Kubota ZRT's. I know next to nothing about them, as I had no idea Kubota offered a stand-on. I'll have to read up on deck and build quality in general and see if I can get my hands on a demo.
 
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The Swamp Fox

LawnSite Member
Location
Michigan
Good reviews. Your Z2 notes surprise me. I'll be honest, I didn't even realize the deck was offset. It doesn't bother me in the least though. I too use the anti scalp wheel to line up the next row or just eye ball it up with the caster inside the cut edge. Either way, your stripes look great to me from the pictures, but maybe seeing it in person would shed something else.

I am a firm believer that ever mower needs to be gone over with a fine tooth comb before using. I bought two new mowers this year (one being a demo with 16 hours) and neither one was setup correctly. The blade pitch was off, the height didn't correspond to the actual number on the deck height setting, the blades were dull, and the tires were over or under inflated. Once I fixed this on both machines, they worked beautifully.
That rubber stripe kit on the Ferris Z2 is simply amazing. The stripes from the Z2 pop like crazy, even 4-5 days after a mow in weedy lawns. Super-impressed with the striping capability.

Agree on the fine tooth comb. Of the three demo units I've been on thus far, two of them came with 0 PSI in the rear tires. This was AFTER I had specifically asked one of the dealers if I needed to check deck pitch / blade sharpness / tire PSI, to which he responded that his service department goes over each unit before and after a demo to ensure that it's dialed in. Lol.
 
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The Swamp Fox

LawnSite Member
Location
Michigan
Since my original post, I've continued to demo the 2017 Ferris SRS Z2 with the 28 HP B&S Vanguard EFI and 52" deck. The hour meter now indicates that I've put 10.6 hours on the machine to date, in varying conditions.

While my initial thoughts on the Z2 have not changed aside from the deck offset being slightly less of an issue than first imagined, I realized after posting my original machine design / build quality review above that I had forgotten to include a few additional pros of the machine:
  1. The ability for either drive wheel to freewheel when in neutral while the opposite side wheel spins was one of the unique features that first attracted me to the Z2, and one which I forgot to list in my original pros/cons. In practice, this works beautifully to prevent overly abrupt, turf-tearing turns. It made mowing around the 4' diameter mulch rings in my 18-tree orchard a breeze — I was able to keep my inside wheel in neutral and simply use the outside wheel control arm to make controlled circles while ducking branches. Of note, the feature does not work in reverse, only when traveling forward.

  2. My demo unit does not have the Oil Guard feature. Had it, the con I listed regarding oil filter location would be eliminated as the filter and dipstick on the Oil Guard are the most accessible I've ever seen.
 

primerbulb120

LawnSite Member
After reading this remarkably well-researched thread, I just wanted to add a data point for anyone else reading it.

I have a Compact-Pro 44 with the X-Factor 1 deck, running Gator G6 blades with an open discharge (no deflector or OCDC.) I am cutting southern grasses with it, mostly around 3.5 inches. The deck has a tendency to leave stragglers on any grass that isn't St. Augustine, requiring a second pass to get a clean cut. Doesn't seem to generate enough vacuum to perform properly. I love this mower overall, but the deck is its weak point.
 

douglee25

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
TX
After reading this remarkably well-researched thread, I just wanted to add a data point for anyone else reading it.

I have a Compact-Pro 44 with the X-Factor 1 deck, running Gator G6 blades with an open discharge (no deflector or OCDC.) I am cutting southern grasses with it, mostly around 3.5 inches. The deck has a tendency to leave stragglers on any grass that isn't St. Augustine, requiring a second pass to get a clean cut. Doesn't seem to generate enough vacuum to perform properly. I love this mower overall, but the deck is its weak point.

Are they taller weedy grasses?
 

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