The Gravely "408" was a Gravely-designed & developed product aimed at the smaller, less expensive, belt-driven, home-owner market, and was manufactured in Clemmons, NC. The "All White" model was rushed into production in 1970 to compete with other homeowner manufacturers.
The Gravely 408 Lawn Tractor cost significantly more to build than other Manufacturers offering the same horsepower and cutting width. In 1971, the Gravely 408 sold for $763.00 with mower deck. Fewer than 600 units were manufactured using the initial design with the gas tank up front (attached to the engine).
Other identifiable features of the “Series 1” 408 included: battery behind the seat; a single brake/clutch pedal stamped (not solid cast), hood lacked a tether, instead used rubber stops mounted on the front axle pivot panel.
The improved design (aka “Series 2”) was introduced later in 1970, and continued nearly unchanged throughout its 8 year production run.
Beginning in late 1973, the color scheme changed to match the Red & White colors used on the remainder of the Gravely line. The earliest Red & White documented at the time of this review is S/N 05608.
The 408 is a ruggedly built and heavy duty lawn tractor. Weighing in at 465 lbs, it is no lightweight. The 4 speed transaxle provides maximum forward speeds of 1.6 mph in first gear, through 5.4 mph in fourth gear. Maximum reverse speeds of 0.7 mph in first gear, through 2.4 mph in fourth gear.
The available attachments are:
• 34” mower deck (105 lbs).
• 42” dozer blade (65 lbs)
• 36” snow thrower (150 lbs)
• Dump cart (75 lbs)
Other options included a rear weight box, rear wheel weights, and an extended rear hitch.
The tractor is easy to maintain, and intuitively designed. With its standard horizontal-shaft Kohler 8 HP K181 engine, and open access under the hinged hood, no disassembly is required to service this tractor.
Dashboard controls include throttle, choke, key switch. A left mounted implement lift lever is used to raise or lower the mower deck, plow or snow blower.
The attachment PTO engagement lever on the right of the dash pulls back to engage, and pushes forward to disengage. Also on the right is a lever to change the transmission from Forward to Reverse. This lever has no “neutral” position – it snaps into either setting, and must not be changed when the tractor is moving.
Wear items: there are 3 belts – the drive belt to the transmission, the engine to PTO belt, and the PTO to mower deck belt. The drive & PTO clutches are lever-operated idler pulleys, so there are no clutch linings to wear out, and minimal adjustments required.
The 34” mower deck with its rear gauge rollers and scissors suspension provides a superior smooth cut. The height adjustment is quick and easy to change with a single lever on the mower deck, and can be done from the driver seat. Mounting the deck to the tractor is easier than most homeowner tractors, and can easily be done in less than 10 minutes. The mower blades overlap, so they are timed and should be offset at 90 degrees.
The dual right-angle drive boxes are connected by a splined drive shaft and driven by a PTO belt. Even after more than 35 years of use, these decks are typically still solid and function well. Blades are the same as those on the 50” Gravely deck for the 400/800/8000 series garden tractors.
The 42” dozer plow blade pushes a surprising snow load. Chains on the rear wheels are a must when plowing snow. The spring-loaded blade flips down when encountering a fixed object, protecting the equipment. There is an angle adjustment lever with 3 settings, but the angle cannot be adjusted from the driver seat.
The plow is extremely easy to mount on the tractor. It can be clipped into the brackets on the front of the tractor and to the implement lift weldment within 3 minutes using hairpin clips to secure it.
The 36” single-stage snow thrower is a more complex attachment than the mower deck or plow blade, because of the variety of adjustments needed – height, belt tension, etc. It functions well, but don’t expect it to throw snow like the 2-stage snow cannons that Gravely is known for.