Gravely ZT52 HD - Changing hydraulic fluid

jpollman

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Hi folks,
Last April I picked up a Gravely ZT52 HD and I LOVE it! It works better than I would have ever imagined. I used it all last summer and toward the end of the summer, I changed the oil and did any maintenance as per the schedule. I was just about done with fall cleanup when it was time to change the hydraulic fluid. Being that it was getting pretty cold and miserable, I decided to wait until spring. Well spring is here and I'm ready to do the job. I've got the materials and the manual. It looks pretty straight forward and not too difficult. The only question I have is filling the transmissions. After all of the fluid is drained and the new filters and guards are installed, it's time top refill it with the 20W 50 motor oil. I know you leave the upper plug out and fill each trans until the fluid just reaches that point, and then reinstall the plug. But the only question is where to fill it from. I'm assuming that you just pour the fluid into the expansion tank and the oil will run down into each of the transmissions. Is this correct? Once the oil reaches each of the upper plug holes, I reinsert the plug and then follow the procedure for topping off the fluid. Which is nothing more than filling the reservoir to the proper level. Then purge the system and I should be good to go.

Thank you very much for any input!
 

djdicetn

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Hi folks,
Last April I picked up a Gravely ZT52 HD and I LOVE it! It works better than I would have ever imagined. I used it all last summer and toward the end of the summer, I changed the oil and did any maintenance as per the schedule. I was just about done with fall cleanup when it was time to change the hydraulic fluid. Being that it was getting pretty cold and miserable, I decided to wait until spring. Well spring is here and I'm ready to do the job. I've got the materials and the manual. It looks pretty straight forward and not too difficult. The only question I have is filling the transmissions. After all of the fluid is drained and the new filters and guards are installed, it's time top refill it with the 20W 50 motor oil. I know you leave the upper plug out and fill each trans until the fluid just reaches that point, and then reinstall the plug. But the only question is where to fill it from. I'm assuming that you just pour the fluid into the expansion tank and the oil will run down into each of the transmissions. Is this correct? Once the oil reaches each of the upper plug holes, I reinsert the plug and then follow the procedure for topping off the fluid. Which is nothing more than filling the reservoir to the proper level. Then purge the system and I should be good to go.

Thank you very much for any input!
jpollman,
How many hours have you already put on that ZT HD52????? It has the ZT-3100 HydroGear trannies right??? Are you sure about the maintenance schedule??? My Pro-Turn 152 has the ZT-3400 tannies and the first tranny service is recommended at 70 hours and then every 300 hours after the first one. I can't believe the ZT-3100's are different or you have 70 hours since last spring. I don't know about you, as I am fairly mechanically savvy(mostly automotive), but when I read the instructions about purging the system I decided right away that the tranny service would be a "dealer service"!!!!! I'm sure they may charge me $50-$75 labor(I'd have to get the oil filter from them anyway) and I'm going to "provide" the 20w50 oil(I am an AVID Pennzoil user and will insist they use my oil or I'll take it elsewhere). Since it'll be several seasons before I have 70 hours and a VERY LONG TIME before I hit 300 hours for the next tranny service, I can't justify taking a chance with an expensive ZTR doing it myself to save < $100 each service. I'd say if you are confused after reading the Gravely manual instructions, you may also want to consider leaving that to the professional ZTR mechanics. That's your call.
 

jpollman

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I've got about 80 hours on it. The maintenance schedule for hydraulic fluid is first change after 75 hours, then every 400 hours after that. I cut my lawn which takes about 1:15. But I've got a couple neighbors that are older and have good size lawns. I do his occasionally when he's not feeling up to using his walk behind. The one across the street has as much lot as I do and I was pretty much doing his lawn too. It's not much, but it brings in a couple extra bucks. I did their fall cleanups too. That added a few hours. I had to change the hydraulic fluid after this first season. But it's the break in oil I'm sure. I probably will get at least 3-4 seasons on each successive fluid change. I called the dealer we bought it from who is about a 45 minute drive from me. When I called to get a price for the service, I got the service guy on the phone and asked about the fluid change. He sounded a bit confused. He then told me that they normally only change the fluid if it's leaking somewhere! That concerned me. I then told him that it was recommended maintenance and I wanted it done. He then went and checked and came back and told me that it was going to be $200 PLUS PARTS! I about freaked. He said that the filters were $30 each (needs 2) and it needed 8 quarts of fluid. From that, it looked like it as going to be well over $300! I then questioned that. I asked him if it was really $200 plus parts. He said yes. I told him that was ridiculous and then he backed up and said it it would be about $200 total. I didn't feel comfortable with this DIMWIT working on my $5100 machine!

I found another dealer about 20 minutes away and called them. They said $80 plus parts. They want $30 each for the filters so it was going to be $150-$175. Thirty dollars each for filters is RIDICULOUS too. I looked up the part number and did some searching. I found an outdoor equipment company selling parts for many brands on ebay. They look like a pretty big outfit and I was able to buy a pair of filters for about $21 including shipping! I went to O'Reilly and got thje 20W50 on sale for $2.99. Oh yeah, it only takes about FIVE quarts, not eight. So I can do the fluid change myself for about $40! It's not rocket science and I'm sure that the purging process is not that difficult. I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh yeah, they are Hydro-Gear trannies.
 

djdicetn

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I've got about 80 hours on it. The maintenance schedule for hydraulic fluid is first change after 75 hours, then every 400 hours after that. I cut my lawn which takes about 1:15. But I've got a couple neighbors that are older and have good size lawns. I do his occasionally when he's not feeling up to using his walk behind. The one across the street has as much lot as I do and I was pretty much doing his lawn too. It's not much, but it brings in a couple extra bucks. I did their fall cleanups too. That added a few hours. I had to change the hydraulic fluid after this first season. But it's the break in oil I'm sure. I probably will get at least 3-4 seasons on each successive fluid change. I called the dealer we bought it from who is about a 45 minute drive from me. When I called to get a price for the service, I got the service guy on the phone and asked about the fluid change. He sounded a bit confused. He then told me that they normally only change the fluid if it's leaking somewhere! That concerned me. I then told him that it was recommended maintenance and I wanted it done. He then went and checked and came back and told me that it was going to be $200 PLUS PARTS! I about freaked. He said that the filters were $30 each (needs 2) and it needed 8 quarts of fluid. From that, it looked like it as going to be well over $300! I then questioned that. I asked him if it was really $200 plus parts. He said yes. I told him that was ridiculous and then he backed up and said it it would be about $200 total. I didn't feel comfortable with this DIMWIT working on my $5100 machine!

I found another dealer about 20 minutes away and called them. They said $80 plus parts. They want $30 each for the filters so it was going to be $150-$175. Thirty dollars each for filters is RIDICULOUS too. I looked up the part number and did some searching. I found an outdoor equipment company selling parts for many brands on ebay. They look like a pretty big outfit and I was able to buy a pair of filters for about $21 including shipping! I went to O'Reilly and got thje 20W50 on sale for $2.99. Oh yeah, it only takes about FIVE quarts, not eight. So I can do the fluid change myself for about $40! It's not rocket science and I'm sure that the purging process is not that difficult. I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh yeah, they are Hydro-Gear trannies.
jpollman,
Thanks for all the clarification!!! Sounds like at 80 hours you're on top of it. I can't argue with the dealer cost quotes you got as it seems they are just like a car dealership(they pretty well stick it to you for parts and the labor ain't cheap). Based upon what you found, I may ask the dealer to provide the filters and labor(with me providing the oil because I want Pennzoil) but I won't consider anything more than about $125 for the service or I may consider doing it myself like you. It's worth $125 to me for someone who has done this many, many times to do it but I, like you, won't let anybody take me for a ride on a mechanical maintenance. Please do post back after you get the tranny service completed(and maybe include the step-by-step procedure you followed for our edification). Thanks and hope it's easy!!!!!
 

jpollman

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Will do!

I had the very same thought as you at first. Let the dealer do it, they've done lots of them and I don't want to screw up a $5K+ machine. But I got concerned when I talked to that first service guy. He was a moron! That did not instill much confidence in me. :)

The dealer cost on materials is ridiculous too. I mean come on, SIXTY BUCKS for a couple oil filters?! That's highway robbery. I bet they buy them for less than $10. As I said, I bought ones online for $20.89 for a pair and there was free shipping. The only thing that concerned me was the purging, but I don't think it will be that big of a deal. I almost did the job the other day when it was sunny and in the 70's. But we've had rain the past few days and the temps are supposed to be only down in the 40's and 50's through next week. But as soon as the weather is clear enough and decent, I'll get it done. Normally rain wouldn't affect me working on the mower, but I'm going to have to do it outside because you have to pull the machine up against a wall to keep it from moving when you jack up the back end to do the purge. I've got a perfect brick wall just outside the garage that will work.

I'll let you know when I get it done.
 

jpollman

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Done. It's no big deal!

The hardest part was getting the old filters off. I have a set of strap wrenches that have pretty much never failed me. I screwed around forever trying to get the first one off. I could get the wrench to grip but it was on so darn tight I couldn't believe it. (I think that the rubber gasket was probably not oiled before it was installed) I really had to work at it, but I got it off. I started in on the second one and it was giving me the same problem. So I went to O'Reilly's and bought a different type of filter wrench. I had the second one off in a few minutes.

I let both transmissions drain for probably a half hour. I didn't have a lot going on so I just let them drain. When they stopped dripping, I cleaned everything up and reinstalled the filters. I just put a funnel in the reservoir and filled it up to near the top. Then let it slowly drain down into each transmission. I figured it would take a while so I'd fill it up and walk away for a bit. When I came back, the reservoir was empty so I started over again. I just left the drain pan on the ground under the transmissions because the vent plugs were still out. I had to fill the reservoir quite a few times, but it finally started coming out the vent holes. So I removed the drain pans, cleaned up the drips, and reinstalled the plugs. At that point, I just topped off the reservoir and proceeded to the purging operation. The purging was my biggest worry. But it was NO BIG DEAL! It had taken me probably a half hour to fill the transmissions with a little over 4 quarts of oil. I think filling it slowly like that avoided trapping a bunch of air. I went through the purge procedure in the manual and it worked fine. I didn't even have to add any more oil. After I was sure it was purged well, I put it back on the ground and took it for a spin. It works great!

Now that I've done it and know what to expect, I won't be worried about doing it the next time it's due!
 

djdicetn

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Done. It's no big deal!

The hardest part was getting the old filters off. I have a set of strap wrenches that have pretty much never failed me. I screwed around forever trying to get the first one off. I could get the wrench to grip but it was on so darn tight I couldn't believe it. (I think that the rubber gasket was probably not oiled before it was installed) I really had to work at it, but I got it off. I started in on the second one and it was giving me the same problem. So I went to O'Reilly's and bought a different type of filter wrench. I had the second one off in a few minutes.

I let both transmissions drain for probably a half hour. I didn't have a lot going on so I just let them drain. When they stopped dripping, I cleaned everything up and reinstalled the filters. I just put a funnel in the reservoir and filled it up to near the top. Then let it slowly drain down into each transmission. I figured it would take a while so I'd fill it up and walk away for a bit. When I came back, the reservoir was empty so I started over again. I just left the drain pan on the ground under the transmissions because the vent plugs were still out. I had to fill the reservoir quite a few times, but it finally started coming out the vent holes. So I removed the drain pans, cleaned up the drips, and reinstalled the plugs. At that point, I just topped off the reservoir and proceeded to the purging operation. The purging was my biggest worry. But it was NO BIG DEAL! It had taken me probably a half hour to fill the transmissions with a little over 4 quarts of oil. I think filling it slowly like that avoided trapping a bunch of air. I went through the purge procedure in the manual and it worked fine. I didn't even have to add any more oil. After I was sure it was purged well, I put it back on the ground and took it for a spin. It works great!

Now that I've done it and know what to expect, I won't be worried about doing it the next time it's due!
jpollman,
Thanks....I cut & pasted those instructions into a Word document for future reference. Doesn't sound that scary since you volunteered to be the guinea pig:0)
I've only got 9.2 hours so I'm just now ready for the first engine oil/filter change(I think I can handle that:0) and it will still be quite some time before I'm ready for that first tranny service. Thanks for posting back the experience and continue to take good care of that Gravely. We picked a good one didn't we!!!!
 

Tom59

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I'm buying one so this info is helpful. I'm now going to insist they do my tranny service for free before buying it. I'm pretty sure they will. I'll use the old line the other dealer said he would. I'll report back -

That way no service to pay for for 300-400 hours. Probably 8+ yrs for me.

Right now my heart is set on the pro turn 148....
But my wallet is set on the ZT HD 48".... my heart usually wins out. :smile:
 

djdicetn

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I'm buying one so this info is helpful. I'm now going to insist they do my tranny service for free before buying it. I'm pretty sure they will. I'll use the old line the other dealer said he would. I'll report back -

That way no service to pay for for 300-400 hours. Probably 8+ yrs for me.

Right now my heart is set on the pro turn 148....
But my wallet is set on the ZT HD 48".... my heart usually wins out. :smile:
Tom59,

If you can get that dealer to throw in a $200 service that won't be needed for 75 hours or so(first change) that would make it a sweet deal(why didn't user jpollman or I think of that:0)
Either of those machines will be a good choice(but I completely understand "Commercial fever" having suffered from it myself:0)
I doubt I could have swung the free tranny service pitch on my 2012 Pro-Turn XDZ100 last September though, because I had already talked the dealer down $1k out-the-door from MSRP plus taxes(and the 2013 went up another $300). BTW, you probably can't find one this late in the Spring but a dealer with a new 2012 leftover in stock will negotiate a good deal. And not discouraging taking the plunge, but if you waited until September-November 2013 you would be in a buyer's market just before the 2014's come out. Of course the dealer might not have the model you want in stock and they won't usually give you any kind of deal if he has to order one(somebody has to pay shipping:0)
I'm VERY happy with my Gravely and think you will be also(I'm doing my 10 hour first oil change before mowing next time so it's still like a brand new mower). I don't think my opinion about it will change when it's got 100 hours on it:0)
 

Pete.S

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I'm buying one so this info is helpful. I'm now going to insist they do my tranny service for free before buying it. I'm pretty sure they will. I'll use the old line the other dealer said he would. I'll report back -

That way no service to pay for for 300-400 hours. Probably 8+ yrs for me.

Right now my heart is set on the pro turn 148....
But my wallet is set on the ZT HD 48".... my heart usually wins out. :smile:
On Friday I brought home a ZT HD 44. I am using it commercially. I cut approx. 35 - 38 lawns per week, and being in Florida that's 10 months per year. I was looking at the Compact Pro 44. I have a number of properties with 48" gates blocking the back yard. I really loved that machine, but my wallet could not justify the $1250 difference. I am really impressed with my ZT HD 44". It cuts great, it's fast, and I look good on it (lol). Sometimes you just gotta go with your better sense.
 
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