View Full Version : Honda hydraulic transmissions HRC216HXA

DFW Area Landscaper
02-25-2007, 06:38 PM
Last December, I had a pretty bad leak on one of my hydraulic trannies and I incorrectly assumed it was a bad gasket. Knowing what I know now, it was an oil seal, but last December, I made the mistake of opening the tranny.

I replaced the gasket and put it back together. It ran for a few minutes but then it bit the dust. I opened it and there were metal shavings all over this thing. Convinced I had installed a bearing backwards, but still not certain, I figured I would open a working transmission just to make sure the widgets went in the way I thought they did (based on the parts manual).

Well, long story short, and about 24 hours of hell, I have ruined 2 perfectly good transmissions. Neither one of them will engage the axle.

My question is this: Is there a re-builder of transmissions for the Hondas, just as Jasper is to the automotive industry? I would love to be able to ship these two cores off to someone who could use them. But because of the mess, they are headed for the trash can within a few days if I can't find someone who rebuilds them.

(Side note: I suppose when the Honda trannies get slow, they'll have to be replaced with a new tranny. Parts only: $385.00 Labor: An hour of my time. Hmmmm....that couldn't happen with a Toro or Snapper! Perhaps a switch is in order for the 08 or 09 season.)

DFW Area Landscaper

DFW Area Landscaper
02-25-2007, 06:46 PM
Another follow-up question:

When you order just the transmission assembly from Honda, do they pre-fill it with fluid? Or do you have to pour the fluid in after you get it?

Last question for anyone who knows: Can over-filling one of these hydraulic transmissions cause it to fail? That may have been my mistake. Is it bad to fill it all the way to the top?

DFW Area Landscaper
aka The Shade Tree Mechanic

02-25-2007, 06:59 PM
I tried to argue with the Honda area sales rep about what the cost would be to replace this hydro at our yearly dealer show. Oh it will never fail don't worry. Same situation is going to occur on all these new single hydro units that are beginning to be widely used.....they will be costly untli somebody figures out how to repo them.

DFW Area Landscaper
02-25-2007, 07:22 PM
None of my hydraulic trannies have actually failed. Of the 13 I own, a few are about 20% slower than they were when new. I suspect they will get slower and slower with time. I am guessing they can go an average of 3 years but that is a total guess.

The real problem is, when they start to slow, the workers are tempted to start fidgeting with the carbs to get more RPM's and thus, faster ground speed. I had to replace all my carb control assemblies this winter because of that. This year, I will be watching and there will be penalties. I've also coated all the carb adjusting screws with nail polish, so if they adjust, I should be able to catch them red handed.

The problem I had with my transmission was "shade tree mechanic" syndrome. I THOUGHT I had a leaky gasket but it was a bad oil seal on the axle. So I opened the tranny to replace the gasket and the lesson I learned was to NEVER open the tranny because I am not smart enough to fix the insides. That lesson was 24 hours of hell. I'll never open another one.

I found several bad oil seals on the axles of my Hondas when I over-hauled them (over the last 2 weeks). The oil seals seem to fail only when something, typically string or wire, gets caught between the oil seal protector shield and the oil seal. Often times, the trash gets wound so tight that you can't even see anything hanging out. But it must take a long time for them to start leaking, and even then, it's slow. The real danger is dust getting in, not fluid getting out.

I think next winter, when I over-haul these things, I'll just replace all the transmission-axle oil seals as a pecautionary measure. They're like $5.50 each and there are two on each machine. I think an extra $11 per year to get more life out of a $385 tranny might be a smart idea during the over-haul procedure. It's only an extra 5 to 10 minutes during the over-haul to replace these seals.

DFW Area Landscaper

lawnboy dan
02-25-2007, 08:26 PM
i have a honda with over 20,000 hrs on its hydro trans. i have never seen nor heard of one ever failing. no you cant hurt them by overfilling them. as for losing speed-have you tried adjusting the ground speed cable and not the carb cable? also if you think you are spending a lot of time on repairs now-if you switch to toro or god forbid snapper -you will be spending a whole lot more time doing repairs. the honda is by far the most trouble free and longest lasting

DFW Area Landscaper
02-25-2007, 09:11 PM
Lawnboy Dan,

How do you track the hours? Is there an hour-meter you can buy for the Honda HRC216HXA? I would love to have that capability.

Instead, I am going by the calandar. I installed a tranny cable on 09/03/06 so I when I do my over-haul, do I replace it to make it to the end of the season or do I chance it and try to go a year+. The real question is, how long did it sit in the shop before it was re-traded with the spare? An hour meter would probably solve many of these questions.

So far, I have not had to replace any blade clutches. My fingers are crossed. Have you had to replace these yet?

As for the hydraulic tranny, like I said earlier, if I hadn't made the mistake of opening either of these, they'd still be running. Might not be as fast as new, but at least they'd still be running.

As for adjusting the tranny cable, I've done that to all of them. If you get it to where it actually slows down a little when you pull the orange lever back, it is adjusted about as good as it can be. Sometimes these trannies aren't very fast after a year of use. Then again, sometimes they are.

Interested to see how your blade clutches have held up. That has been the "other" thing that has been floating around in my mind. So far, I've never had one fail. But I am relatively still new to the business in terms of knowing how long equipment should last.

DFW Area Landscaper

lawnboy dan
02-25-2007, 11:08 PM
i dont actually have an hour meter on mine but i bought it new in 91 and it was my only mower the first few yrs and still my primary mower for at least 10 yrs. its still running today but only get used once every other week. motor is still orig and never been apart except to replace crankshaft seals. i replaced the bbc when i had the lower seal changed. it was still working fine but decided to change it while it was apart. mobil 1 is the key to mines long life . ran it since break in. my biggest area of concern has been drive shafts. on my 3rd one now and had a prob with them breaking the clips that hold the pin in. sovved that by using a hose clamp instead of the clip. from the looks of the size of your company-believe me you are far better off running honda hydros . the toro proline isnt nearly the great machine others here make it out to be. i have been in this biz a long time and know 21 inch mowers as it was all i used up till a few years ago

02-26-2007, 10:25 AM
20,000 hours? That thing would be practically running nonstop from the day it was new.

02-26-2007, 12:44 PM
As for adjusting the tranny cable, I've done that to all of them. If you get it to where it actually slows down a little when you pull the orange lever back, it is adjusted about as good as it can be. Sometimes these trannies aren't very fast after a year of use. Then again, sometimes they are.

Not sure if it applies to your specific model, but usually to adjust the cable you need to make the cable just tight enough so that if you put the lever all the way to the slowest setting the wheels stop spinning.

Also, you could hook up a Tiny Tach. Some of them have hour meter functionality. The problem is where to mount it and run the wire so that neither gets destroyed in normal use. All you have to do to install it is wrap the one wire around the sparkplug wire and ground a second wire.