Year 2 gravely fleet update

mag360

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Southeast Pa
As some of you know we purchased three gravely units about a year ago - we just had our first significant issue so it seems like a good time to update.

Units purchased

1. 2012 pro stance 52 inch 22 hp Kawi 691

2. 2013 pro turn 60 inch 24 hp Kawi 730

3. 2013 pro turn 272 72 inch 27 hp Kawi 850

Other units in service currently or within the last year - all 60-61 inch ztrs (to show what we have to compare to)

2010 Hustler super z
2010 cub cadet tank
2009 ferris 1500xp
2007 scag turf tiger
2004 deere 757
2004 husqvarna
2001 turf tiger


Our experience with ariens/gravely, as a company, has been very good to date, and with our dealer has been even better. This is the great equalizer for any brand.
The fs730 in the 60 was running on one cylinder the other day and had spark but no compression. A quick phone call to gravely hockessin had me speaking briefly with the owner(John) and then directly with a technician(Antonio), then dropping the machine off at my convenience. I pulled in, stopped inside so Louise could make a note of the machine and issue and then pulled around the side to roll it off the trailer. Another tech(Tim) met me to release the hydros and help roll it off of the trailer. At this point I had spoken to four polite individuals - the two owners and two of the mechanics - all of whom were friendly, polite, willing, and able to help me. That's great service in my book already.

When we had the machine off Antonio gave me a few minutes of his time as I was worried about the cause of our compression issue. He quickly pulled the valve cover, recognized an issue with the exhaust valve guide, knew the cause, and knew that it was commonly covered under warranty. It wasn't an issue that could be fixed on the spot so I left our machine there and brought home its twin as a demo/loaner - even after admitting we could probably manage without it. That says a lot about gravely hockessin and possibly about gravely as a brand that either the machines are holding up very well, or the shop is fixing issues so quickly that the loaner fleet is available still. These guys sell quite a few units.

As to the quality and production of our gravely mini-fleet I believe it's at the upper end of the spectrum. Cut quality is good, wet grass is very manageable, and the short wheelbases on all three machines and excellent scalp wheel placement help to avoid scalping and gouging although the 72 needs a wider rear track for steep side slopes IMO(this is more of a cut quality that a traction issue as the overhang on the low side will leave a line in the cut). We recently took over a couple larger estates with 12-13 acres of rough ground that had many noticeable scalp marks from dips, bumps, etc that had been mowed with a 72 inch turf tiger - the 272 leaves a significantly smoother cut due to its shorter, more forgiving, wheelbase and the pro stance makes it child's play to leave a scalp free finish cut while trucking through a lumpy field. The stander shines here for operator comfort as well.

To date the machines have around 500 hours each after a year of mild use - they will be used a little more next year if we don't trade for new. To date we've replaced:

1 deck belt on the stander that had popped off while mowing an overgrown field at transport height, smoked itself on the drive pulley, and lasted another 200-250 hours before giving up the ghost. We had a spare that I couldn't find (Murphy's law) when this finally happened so I stopped in at the dealer to grab a new one some other necessities (stihl ultra oil and some tuneup parts). Louise quickly pulled the part number up and was surprised to not have it in stock - she then checked and discovered they had sold one recently and re-ordered and the new order wasn't in yet. She said they would ship it to us as she knew it was a 30-40 minute drive for me to Hockessin (I never asked her to ship it and wasn't upset over it being out of stock). The belt came to my door less than 48 hours later and we weren't charged extra.

1 secondary deck belt on the 272 that came off upon striking a hidden stump on a new property (spindle was fine). We needed it back up and running quickly so I called the local place - not in stock, cross referenced with a couple other brands and tried three other local dealers that carried those brands - not in stock. There was one sitting on the shelf waiting for me in Hockessin.

1 connector on the stander that corroded over the winter (it was parked under an open roof vent in an enclosed trailer for our 17 snow events last winter). This was tough to find but no problem once located - never brought to dealer

1 bolt and bushings on the foot pedal assembly of the stander. The nut backed off twice and another gravely hockessin tech (J.J) popped out as I was ordering the new one and handed me a nylon locking nut in place of the stock one - also friendly, capable, and willing to help

1 head (probably) on the 60 around 500 hours due to the valve guide not properly pressed in - not too worried about this as it sounded like a not too common problem

2 seat isolators - these were no original equipment on the 272 but they mounted right up as is has the 400 series frame. The front ones tore pretty quickly - under 100 hours. We raise the decks often and use the foot pedal on all the machines to keep mowing height consistent on undulating terrain and I'm sure it's the leverage from operating the pedal while facing uphill that tears them. The ride quality is greatly improved with the isolators installed but that life expectancy is obviously not great. We now have a ratchet strap on the subframe of the seat to hold the front down and we'll keep it there after replacing them (about $40 each)

Spindles, wheel bearings, and linkage are all still nice and tight and the sealed hydros are all smooth with no jerkiness or runaway feeling.

We have gravely ocdc's for all three and they tend to find their way to the trailer shelf during the day. The stander is nearly a mulching mower with the ocdc closed but the other two tend to dump a ton of clippings quickly with the chutes closed. Removing the discharge baffle on the 60 helped with this and doesn't seem to hurt discharging performance . This deck is clump free in nearly any situation - especially with the custom cut blades from our dealer... (Striping and handling are great with the custom wheel/tire combo from them too). All three chute blockers need to be kept clean and occasionally lubricated for ease of use but the price point is fantastic at around 200 bucks and change if I remember correctly.

So far I'm pretty happy with our choice to go gravely but even happier with the choice to purchase with the friendlier dealership (as that was the deciding factor for me and is consistently an important quality of anyone we do business with) that turned out to be a great resource for us and anyone within driving distance...

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Ridin' Green

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Michigan
Yet another excellent review!

Are you still satisfied with the FX850 on the 272? Also, were any of the stripes in the pics done with either the OEM striper, or an aftermarket striper? Looks excellent either way.
 
OP
mag360

mag360

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Southeast Pa
Thanks man!

The 850 has been great on the gravely and on the super z. I'm very pleased with it - we had the same engine on our propane demo and it gave out a respectable amount of power for a 4 hour old unit and I would expect a little more after it breaks in. That engine size is a nice combination of power and fuel economy. The hustler runs a consistent 1.2-1.4 gph if I'm remembering correctly. We didn't track propane use by the hour but a local company has quite a few deere units converted with this engine and they see significant fuel cost savings.

Stripe pics are without performance enhancers:weightlifter:

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