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post #1 of 59 Old 03-12-2017, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Hi,

I'm new to Gravelys.

My current experience level with engines (mainly the modern ones found in consumer-grade lawnmowers) is oil changes, cleaning out dirty carburetors and putting on a new headgasket.

I've been scouring the forum for general info and familiarity for the past week.

I just got three 2-wheel machines and some attachments (plow, cultivator, and brush hog), and some assorted spare parts (couple extra cylinders and pistons, and some other bits and pieces) Hoping to get least one running machine from the lot. I'll be using all three attachments, but the plow is the one I'm most excited about. The attachments all seem to be in good shape and the gearboxes turn smoothly.

One machine is a nearly complete (missing wheels and sparkplug cable) otherwise unidentifiable model L (no serial to be found, but engine cranks to get the wheel to rotate 1/4 turn seems consistent with a standard L, yet I also think it has the odd bolt on the axle designating an LI, so am unsure). It has a Wico magneto and a front facing aluminum carb and electric start and I think the 6.6 hp engine.

The most complete and most likely to run machine is an L8, serial 2M18033, with a 7.6 HP engine (has vertical sparkplug). It has the same aluminum carb and magneto as the one above, along with tires, and what I think is a governor. I intend to add the working electric start from the above machine to it.

The last and least complete is serial #91100. I am guessing it is a C model due to the location of the serial near the attachment port. No engine cylinder, gas tank, or carb.

I'm told the L8 was running when parked, but smoking a little. (this was probably a few years ago) I'm advised that it may just need new rings, and to maybe check the diameter of the cylinder for wear. I don't have the tool for this just yet, but will order one if needed. Unless a dial caliper and a telescoping gauge would suffice, but I think it would have too much potential for error in it.

What would be the best approach for me to start with?: Should I just go ahead and assume X,Y and Z are absolutely bad to begin with and test/change/clean/adjust them first before anything else? Or should I just put a little gas in the tank, see what happens, and go with the troubleshooting procedure in the manual? I want to come up with a good procedure to follow before I get too scattered in my approach.

It's a little overwhelming jumping into something new, and I am probably just overworrying it a bit. I think a little guidance from some more experienced Gravely people would help set me at ease!

I'm assuming for starters that I should probably change the oil before anything else.
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post #2 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 05:46 AM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

OzarkIron,
Welcome! Although others may have differing opinions, I would certainly advocate for gassing the L8 up and attempting to crank it. You may surprised at how little you have to do in order to get this unit running.

I originally purchased two non-running Gravelys (a 1957 L and a 1974 C8). The gentlemen I purchased these from stated that he had the 1974 running a few years earlier but was never able to start the 1957. Keep in mind that these were the first Gravelys I had ever seen in person and knew nothing about these fine machines other than their reputation. I had the 1957 running in a couple of days (stuck exhaust valve) which was soon followed by a running 1974!

My word of caution is to rotate the engine until you hear the magneto snap (indicating it is at TDC) and THEN pull on the starting strap in order to attempt to crank it. I broke the starting strap four times until I figured out the critical nature of having the engine in this orientation prior to attempting to start. My inexperienced approach was also rough on my hands and shoulder.

I wish that I could find a package deal like you did. When you have an opportunity please post some pictures of this trove!

Daryl G

1957 Gravely L
1974 Gravely C8
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post #3 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 07:38 AM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Thinking practically, I would start with the L8 as well. When you get that one running, you may run out of time or patience to fix the others. It's the most versatile of the lot with the swiftomatic 8-speed transmission. The third one is a '73 model and it sounds like a parts tractor.

However, most folks on here would bet that you will fix both and then go get more. That's what we've done!
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post #4 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 07:56 AM
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New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Welcome to the family
First thing you might want to do is go to here >> http://gravelymanuals.com/ and download/print the users and parts manuals for your machines, they are free.

The Gravely L is a very simple and versatile machine sadly most have been well...ridden hard and put away extremely wet, so they all end up needing some TLC.

To start I'd go for basic tune up...points condenser, plug, plug wire, oil change and filter, also checking the valve adjustment wouldn't be a bad idea either.

I too would go for the L8, it's the versatile in the bunch.

Below are two very good places to get parts from.

http://gtgravelyparts.com/

http://gravelyparts.com/m/index.htm

Good luck !


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post #5 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 02:59 PM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

I should have provided a little more in my first response. In my opinion, I would do just a few things to ensure that don't mess up the cylinder. I would put a little oil or WD-40 in the cylinder before cranking it any more than you have. I would also change the oil (maybe not the filter unless it's just awful looking). Otherwise, spray some fuel into the carb intake and give her a spin!

Spark, fuel, and air are all you need. I would check for each before tearing anything down. I got a rough looking '72 C8 about 5 years ago and have never had to touch the magneto.
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post #6 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Ok, thanks for the tips so far. I'll get some general pictures once I've made some space in the shop.

I went ahead and put some new oil in the L8 and also just switched over a couple of better condition bits and pieces from the parts machine (air filter, air supply tube to the carb, and a bracket or two)

Went to turn the crank. Nothing, it's solid. Well that's not good.

Took the head off, and wow, I'm glad I have some extra cylinders to work with. It looks like wasps somehow got in since the last time it was running. There was no muffler on the exhaust, and looks like the exhaust valve was ever so slightly open. That's my guess on how they got there.

What's the best way to deal with this? Can it possibly be saved, or better to just move to one of the spare cylinders and call it a day?
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post #7 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 04:52 PM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

That might be able to be cleaned up, but if you have a spare cylinder in good shape, I'd get a piston and rings for the spare and use that instead.

I also advocate the L8. I converted my 5hp L over to an L8 and haven't looked back. It makes a good machine even better.

I do have to congratulate you on getting all the head bolts out. They can be a real pain in a machine in rough shape.

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post #8 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Thanks, though I did not have such luck on the parts machine cylinder head, there are three broken bolts to remove from it now.

Well, I've got the engine removed from the L8 now, but the piston is pretty firmly stuck inside the cylinder. I've got ATF and acetone soaking in the cylinder. What are my options for getting it off now? It's starting to look like I'll have to pull another crankcase off to use now, too.
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post #9 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 08:34 PM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

If I am not mistaken, I think rw3dog has a video series on youtube with a bad cylinder like that.

Sent from 6050' elevation in SW New Mexico
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post #10 of 59 Old 03-13-2017, 08:47 PM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Quote:
Originally Posted by GravelyNM View Post
If I am not mistaken, I think rw3dog has a video series on youtube with a bad cylinder like that.

Sent from 6050' elevation in SW New Mexico
I've unstuck quite a few too. Both at home and at work.

Your already going the wrong direction. leave the motor mounted to the tractor so your not banging the aluminum case on the floor. Leave atf, pb or your favorite penetrating oil soak for a couple days.

Take chuck of wood and hammer and try working in down. Once you get it to move your home free. I've also held the crank bolt tight and tapped with hammer at the same time and got it to go.

Once its loose work it back and fourth till you get it down the whole way. Then you can un bolt the cylinder and clean it up as needed. Biggest thing is patients.

Steven Turcheck
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current tractors and rigs
1944 WWII L
48 L grw's
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52 US navy L restored, 3 53 Ls
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post #11 of 59 Old 03-14-2017, 12:51 AM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

The above post sounds like some very good advice from a very good advisor. Im no where near a mechanic or expert but I dont do anything like that "on the solid" meaning I will use wood along with my other tools and some good slick stuff to get things rockin. Whatever happened to Slick 50? Im not advocating running in inside a running engine but I'd just bet it would be great to bust things loose because that stuff is so slick you cant hold onto a pencil if it has it on it because it will slide right out of your hands every time. Heck I might get some of that stuff for breaking loose parts free only.
And that cylinder "from top view" is the same one I have on my 6.6 L model, as far as type goes anyway.
Looks like you, me and Fireant911 (Daryl) are a trio here. I have used them (Gravelys ) from when I was about 14 yrs. old untill I was 28 or so but the one I have now that I bought for my son and will give to him if I ever get done with it is the first one I have ever owned. Im beginning to think I dont ever want to "get done" with it. What the heck will I do then? lol. Have fun.
And man that cylinder, piston and valves looks pretty darn rough. Again Im no pro and Im certain some of the guys on here has seen and fixed worse but all I can say is thank God mine didnt look like that because I would have pulled the rest of my hair out. I wouldnt even have known where to start on that.
I was lucky because mine apparently recieved a new bore job recently before buying it (.030 over) and the cyl looks pretty shiney, but then again looks can be deceiving to and it might be a piece of crap for all I know as for now. I'll try to shoot a pic of it below.

Last edited by Gerrard; 03-14-2017 at 01:00 AM.
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post #12 of 59 Old 03-14-2017, 01:06 AM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Here's how it looks when I removed head and still does because all Ive done this winter is keep oil on/in it.
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post #13 of 59 Old 03-14-2017, 08:35 AM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Welcome Ozark!

Re your jug full of wasp nests, that's a new one, but I've seen things equaly scary.

It's not impossible you could save the jug. Possibly piston too, though I wouldn't bother; new manufacture pistons are available for not too much. They aren't making any more jugs.

From the pic, it looks like the piston is stuck about half way down the bore. To get that apart, you'll need to shove it all the way down, pull the jug off the top, then pop out the wrist pin to get the piston off.

I predict the hardest part will be to get the piston unstuck. In similar situations I've used a wood block and a good-sized mallet to break the piston loose. Once it's loose, you may be able to just work it out, or you may need to keep persuading it.

The jug lifts off the case after removing the four nuts at the base. When you start lifting it, make sure to have some rags handy to stuff in around the connecting rod, you don't want to drop crud and wasp nests down inside the case.

Once you've got the jug off, you can clean it up and see what the bore is like. If it was std before, and that rust doesn't go too deep, it may be usable after boring.

Good luck, and

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post #14 of 59 Old 03-14-2017, 09:05 AM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

Yep there is a time and a place to give up. This 63L8 cylinder is an example.

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ID:	1922425Once it was already junk. I split it up the back with a grinder. And used a chisel to finish it off.

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ID:	1922433Ended up putting a spare cylinder on I had ready to go at the time

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current tractors and rigs
1944 WWII L
48 L grw's
2 49 L's ,1 Wisconsin powered L
52 US navy L restored, 3 53 Ls
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48 Willy's CJ 2A
1991 ford F150 and Bronco
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post #15 of 59 Old 03-14-2017, 11:08 AM
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Re: New Gravely L8 owner, looking for advice on how to begin

I'd say that cylinder is beyond use as is, unless you bore it or sleeve it. Does it have exhaust flange ears? They commonly break off and if they are also gone, I'd say to pass on it.

I'd try to get at least one machine up and running so you've got something to work/play with and to keep you motivated. One option for the L8 is to repower it with a honda clone. You can probably do that for 6-700 with a harbor freight predator and Bruce's kit, and then you have a beast of a machine. And the L8 is probably the best candidate for that.

After that (i.e., one start looking at what you have to get another of those machines running.

As for being new to motors, these are great machines to learn on. Enjoy the journey!

And its not too early to start looking for other gems - Kohler powered big boys (5665) and riders. That said, having started with walk-behinds as a kid, to me there is no comparison in their utility compared to a rider.

Keep us posted
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