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Roger
03-30-2009, 09:50 PM
As some of you know, I've been discussing hand mowers for the past year. My LawnBoy DuraForce was a very big hassle last season, and I was waiting for the new LB Commercial mower entry. We all know that didn't happen because of no engines for these machines. Now, as discussed in another current thread, these machines are red, being branded as Toro mowers.

After much discussion with many on LS, and doing my own research, I ended up with a Honda HRX, self-propelled model. This is not the machine of my desire, but was the "last one standing." I didn't want the former LB entry, now a Toro, fearing it would soon be an orphan. Of all the criteria, weight of the machine was very important. Also, it has to be a good bagging machine. We use a hand mower at least 600 hours per season, mostly bagging. [Save all the discussion of bagging vs. mulching, vs. discharge for another thread -- been through that valley far too many times to repeat here. Also, save all the discussion about "no need to use a 21" mower, use a w/b instead." Again, been down that path far too many times too. Thanks.]

The HRX is 90-95#, about the lightest one that might have a chance of standing up to our needs. I do not like the idea of the Honda GCV engine, but that is all that is offered.

So this is what I have for the 2009 season. Let's also not debate the "shudda" machines either. I've spent far too much time discussing all other choices, and this is the only one that emerged as a choice.

I picked it up more than a week ago. I tried it out a little last week, but today was the first day out. I only worked three properties, but came away some initial impressions. We don't have much growth here yet, and only the "early" ones are candidates to make a mowing pass.

Engine: I like the starting, and power. I don't like the way it runs. It seems very rough, will not idle well at all (surges). Also, it seems to have quite a knock.

Fuel: The small tank is a real problem. All it will run is about 1.5 hours on a tank. That will be a problem when we run it 6-8 hours per day -- perhaps will need five refueling stops. I think the tank is only one quart.

Ground drive: It is very easy to select the speed desired, able to change speeds on the fly with the hydro transmission. Top speed is a little disappointing -- only a good brisk walk. I am doubting this will be a problem when the real heavy mowing is at hand in a couple of weeks.

Handling: It seems very cumbersome to make turns. Yes, it is a much different setup than my old LB. But, it just seems awkward to be sure to manage two handles - one to keep the BBC engaged, the other for ground drive. I'm sure time will help find better ways to handle this machine, especially on slopes and tight places.

Cut: The quality of cut was much better than expected. To be sure, I'm cutting pretty low on the first cut. But, whether in bag mode, or mulch mode, the cut surface was picture perfect. This may change when we start to work at higher cutting heights, and have heavier cutting requirements. But, at first cuts, I am pleasantly surprised. It is on par with my old LB, and that is one of the LB's greatest assets.

Clipping handling: I tried some areas with the Versa-cut knob in the full mulch position. The results were good, but not much clipping burden to handle now. I am doubtful much work will be done in mulch mode in a couple of weeks. Other areas, I went to full bag mode. I can quickly see that the bag will not fill completely. I was excited about having a large bag, but now I can see all that volume cannot be utilized. The clippings enter the bag on the right side, blowing them to the rear of the bag. However, the flow of debris inside the bag must swirl some of the debris up the the front, on the left side. With the bag partially full, the front of the bag on the left side will have a wall of debris. When lifting the bag out, that wall of debris will falter, and some debris will fall out. It looks like there will always be a small pile of debris fall from the front of the open bag to the ground, even when the bag is partially full. This can lead to a mess to be cleaned up after every bag change. Maybe I will find a better way to remove the bag.

I did try the partial bag/partial mulch function, putting the knob at the 8/10 position toward full mulch. This left only a small opening in the discharge chute for debris. I don't know how much savings this meant. I suspect not very much. All the other openings (e.g. 1/10, 4/10, 6/10), are probably worthless. But, in more difficult cutting, I envision the small opening to quickly clog, putting the mower into full mulch mode. Time will tell how well this feature works for grass cutting. I'm not optimistic.

I did have one lawn that had some Fall leaves that blew into a hedge, and along a bed. I raked/blowed them out onto the turf, put the knob into full mulch mode, made a couple of passes, and swung the knob to full bag, and made another pass -- zippo, mulched leaves were quickly put into the bag! A half tarp of leaves was gone into a quarter of a bag on the mower. Great!

Conditions today were very good. The grass was not high, it was not wet, sappy growth. The sun was out (albeit only low 40s), and all was dry.

Stay tuned. I'm sure that I will have more comments as the weeks pass, and this machine gets some real service hours, under more extreme conditions.

If this information is useful to somebody else making a decision, good! If anybody who has an HRX has any comments about some of my first negative impressions, let me hear what you think, or different thoughts. Thanks.

pinto n mwr
03-30-2009, 10:04 PM
have the same mower, without the hydro. Engine is fine except for the automatic clutch. Drivetrain and durability seem fine. Adjustment for height sucks. Cut quality IMO absolutley sucks. Mulching leaves trails, setting the versa-whatever varies on every yard. The twin blades are not the best idea out there. for $500 bucks one would think it would be great but it is not. Buy a cheap push mower but make sure it has a Hondao with a manual choke.

dishboy
03-30-2009, 11:31 PM
Roger, a velcro strap will solve involuntary BBC disengagement.

deere615
03-31-2009, 10:22 PM
I have 2 of those and love them. they are the best baggers hands down. for the idling and speed problems just spend a little time messing with/adjusting the cables, mine were like that also, now they idle a bit higher and don't "surge" and they move extremley fast

Roger
04-01-2009, 07:18 AM
deere615 -- thanks. I will try your suggestion. I mowed seven properties yesterday, burning through three full tanks of fuel, plus more. We are learning better how to handle on turns to be more efficient.

I'm glad to hear the bagging function has worked well. That is very important for us. You and I are in the same region, so have similar conditions. Obviously, there isn't much to bag now, but in two or three weeks, we will be up to our eyeballs is wet, sappy clippings. We will know for sure how well it works for us!

Happy Frog
04-01-2009, 02:42 PM
deere615 -- thanks. I will try your suggestion. I mowed seven properties yesterday, burning through three full tanks of fuel, plus more. We are learning better how to handle on turns to be more efficient.

I'm glad to hear the bagging function has worked well. That is very important for us. You and I are in the same region, so have similar conditions. Obviously, there isn't much to bag now, but in two or three weeks, we will be up to our eyeballs is wet, sappy clippings. We will know for sure how well it works for us!

In wet grass, you'll have to open the gate more to avoid clogging the discharge opening.
These HRX are great mowers

brucec32
04-01-2009, 05:04 PM
Thanks for the great review. It's nice to get the whole picture rather than just bragging one's choice does everything perfect.


I almost pulled the trigger on one of these last week, but read a few more reviews and decided it might not mulch as well as I'm used to (toros) and I also wondered if turns would be smooth and easy. I admit mulching with 21" machines isn't ideal, as they can bog down easier than a really powerful big mower will.

Since you bag a lot I'm curious why you nixed the Toro "superbagger" commercial versions. They seem to be optimized for bagging. Was it just the weight? Wait, I see one reason why. They may not mulch at all. (unclear from promotional materials I've seen). And the homeowner versions have the same old personal pace drive.

I think the HRX ability to switch from bagging to mulching and back effortlessly is great. Leave the bag on and you can even please customers who might balk at mulching when conditions would permit by mulching while it looks like you're bagging. If they see a bag on the machine, the topic may not even come up as long as the result is good.

Honda's promotional videos had awkward looking users. Not smooth in turns or when changing speeds. I assume that gets better with use, but I read the long handlebars made it a little less nimble. Certainly not a lawnboy type machine. I have yet to hear a good reason why they quit making the staggered wheel, lightweight lawnboys. I was waiting for an excuse to get one.

For my type of use (small lots and back yards a couple times a day) the fuel capacity would suffice on the HRX. But I think large capacity tanks is big plus with the commercial units for you heavy duty users, for both time and safety reasons.

With the hours you put on them I may have gone with the toro commercial units, (though I can't imagine anything bagging great in wet grass, the toros sure don't) but I think you'll be happy with your Honda, and my hunch is the drive and other small items will need replacing before the engine.

Roger
04-01-2009, 09:00 PM
bruce ... Yes, I'm not very concerned about the mulching function. I am willing to be surprised to see it work when conditions are tough in a few weeks. But, I'm pretty well resigned to bag most of the time. I have bought a second bag for this machine, so we can work with two bags. With the old LawnBoy side bag, we worked with two, three, and sometimes four bags. The name of the game is to keep the mower running, stuffing clippings into the bag. At bag change, drop one bag, put on the other that is sitting there. Whether or not this dance is properly orchestrated depends upon my tasks. I try to empty most bags, and so can pick up some of them between trimming, blowing, and when I'm working another mower (sometimes).

I had looked at the Toro Bagger model (not the old LB try at a 4X4). I thought it a bit heavy, and it looks like it cannot do mulching at all, nor any discharge. Sometimes the leaf mulching function in the Fall is important. Also, sometimes, we can use discharge in more scrappy areas. I'm not optimistic about the discharge idea with the Honda HRX, but time will tell. I'm concerned about leaving rows of clippings.

Remember, I have a Toro ProLine 21", with a 5.5hp Sizuki. It is a workhorse, and we use it as a second hand mower. It is heavy, great piece of equipment, great engine, moderately good bagger, not so good mulcher (except in the Fall leaf season with Gator blade). So, the general nature of the Toro machine was not foreign to me.

The switch from bagging to mulch, visa-versa, and "somewhere between" may be better on paper than in reality. I remain open, but an not optimistic. From the little time I've tried it, shutting down the chute means less discharge force. The bag doesn't even fill out from discharge flow into the bag. During heavy conditions, I can foresee any small opening clogging up quickly, turning it into a mulcher anyway. Time will tell us.

Also, I used the mower on seven properties yesterday. On five of them, the mulch function (full closure) was used. This is first pass mowing for us, and clipping count is pretty low. Lawns can be quite uneven in growth at this initial growth spurt. The day was warm and dry. On the last job during the evening, the growth was better than most places during the day. I wanted to open up the chute -- move the knob from mulch to bag. One of my concerns when I first looked at this feature during the Winter -- will this thing just get clogged up (I even investigated the possibility of taking it out). My suspicions were confirmed -- the knob would not move last evening. Debris had built underneath (or wherever) to make the chute movement impossible.

Today, we had rain this morning, and I spent the afternoon in maintenance. I spent time trying to understand why the closure mechanism would not move. I learned the debris build-up underneath prohibited the mechanism from move. After a little time with the scraping knife, the closure was free to move again. I think the lesson learned here is to keep moving that mechanism frequently, only if to exercise it back/forth a time or two to keep things clear.

Yes, turning the mower is a new experience. As noted earlier, the machine seemed a bit cumbersome. But, the different motions of the handles (lifting up on the ground drive bail on the LawnBoy, over against pushing the Honda bail forward) takes some practice. I have learned that when making turns, my left hand stays on the BBC clutch, and the right hand stays on the ground drive. By staying on, I mean keeping it in hand, and USING THE BAIL as a handle. In other words, one can use two hands to handle the machine, one on the BBC, and the other on the ground drive bail. This permits using the ground drive to work for me when making the turn, not just having it return to neutral. Also, I think the traditional three-point turn I use for my w/b and ZTR will work fine on this machine too. I learned to make it the most effective turn on the LawnBoy. It takes a bit if "man-handling," but is the most effective and quickest.

I changed the oil in the GCV today for the first time (about five hours of service). I hate the "turn the mower over" technique. After consulting the manual, I learned it takes only 12.5-13 oz for an oil change. Yes, only 12.5-13 oz! Actually, I measured out 14 oz, and the level was right on the dipstick. There surely isn't much reserve. Apparently, it is not possible to fully drain -- full oil capacity was 18 oz (I think, but a few oz more than a refill).

I also learned today that somebody with an overzealous impact gun put on the blade bolts. One more tale of woe that makes me glad that I don't own one of those things.

I hope these explanations and observations are useful to somebody.

deere615
04-01-2009, 09:56 PM
deere615 -- thanks. I will try your suggestion. I mowed seven properties yesterday, burning through three full tanks of fuel, plus more. We are learning better how to handle on turns to be more efficient.

I'm glad to hear the bagging function has worked well. That is very important for us. You and I are in the same region, so have similar conditions. Obviously, there isn't much to bag now, but in two or three weeks, we will be up to our eyeballs is wet, sappy clippings. We will know for sure how well it works for us!

Yeah they leave such a nice cut in the spring and the bag has a huge capacity, the fuel tank may be small but for as much work as it does they are excellent on gas

Roger
05-16-2009, 09:32 PM
Now that I've about six weeks of use of the mower, updated observations are in order.

Overall, the machine is doing pretty well. It now has perhaps 160-170 service hours, Taking a few points to consider:

Engine: The engine runs well at speed, under load. At slow, or fast idle, it surges and does not run steady. I'm unsure how to fix, as there are no adjustment screws for mixture. It has great power, and only at heavy mulching use, does it show signs of laboring. Even bagging in heavy grass, it keeps speed very well.

The small fuel tank needs some time for me to adjust. It needs filled every other lawn, sometimes after every one. On the most demanding days, we go through five tanks of fuel. Often, we need four tanks of fuel for the day's work. I have a good 2.5 gallon can, with good spout, so the refilling goes quickly. Like I said, it is my adjustment in needing to remember to do the refueling. The "C" engine will run for about 1:30-1:35 on a tank.

I've changed oil after five or six full working days. It sounds like a hassle, but after a couple of times, I know where to put the drain pan, how to turn the machine over for draining. It goes quickly. I have a quart bottle with markings, and measure out 15 oz, keep it handy for quick refilling. The used oil is a bit strange in color. It is more brown than typical used oil, not black. Anybody know why? I'm using 10W-30 Shell Rotella. I consider the engine to be one of the vulnerable parts of this machine, and try to keep tight on the maintenance cycle.

Cutting: The most pleasant surprise has been the mulching capability. Our Srping ramp-up for growth was slow, which means the grass clippings have not been as sappy as usual. However, we are now into a heavy growth spurt. For the lighter growth, the mulching function worked pretty well. As some of you know, my huge concern was for a good bagging mower because that had been our primary mode of work. Now, that growth is going strong, some of the mulching work is finished, and we are back to bagging for many properties.

The good mulching function is undoubtedly related to the double blades. That is the good news, AND the bad news. When the grass is wet and sappy, the last thing I want is recut grass clippings. I posted a thread a couple of weeks ago, asking if anybody could point me to a single, high-lift blade for this machine. I received no leads, and checking elsewhere, no leads. The repeated cutting of clippings just packs up the underside of the deck. This was a big concern of mine earlier, but I've come to realize that mowing conditions change rapidly. Yes, in some situations, the deck will pack up, but being able to use the double blade arrangement is useful in too many other locations to swap blades in/out.

The Versa-Mow feature is good in one respect, a joke in another respect. The good part of the feature is the quick and easy change from bag to mulch. Yes, it usually requires some digging out of debris so the baffle slides to the fullest extent, but that can be done pretty quickly. The useless notion of the Versa-Mow is the variable adjustment, intending to mulch some clippings, while bagging the rest.

Assume, for the sake of discussion, full bagging position is setting 1, and full mulching postion is 10 (don't know exactly how many notches are on the control). Setting 1 has the baffle fulling concealed, leaving the chute fully open. Likewise, setting 10 has the baffle fully extended, closing off the chute completely. From my experience, any setting less than about 7 will put all clippings in the bag. Closing to 8 or 9, more clippings are being mulched, but the air flow to the bag is so badly restricted that the clippings don't reach the back of the bag. Rather, they just sit on the bottom part of the chute. The idea sounds great on paper, but in reality, the closing off of the baffle limits the air flow too much to be effective as a bagger. And, putting the setting down at 3, 4, or 5, all the clippings flow out the chute anyway. So, for me, it is either setting 1, or setting 10, nothing between.

When bagging (remember, I only use setting 1), the clippings fill the bag bottom to top, not back to front. Why? I'm not sure. The reason this is important is that when taking off the bag, the clipping build up near the front is subject to falling out unless the back is tipped backward immediately, and the clippings are shaken toward the back of the bag. In other words, the pictures of just lifting out the bag, in a vertical direction, is just plain wrong. Too much debris is left in a pile at the rear of the bagging chute.

The bag is deceivingly large. Rarely have we filled the bag because a full bag is too heavy. The heavy bag upsets the balance of the machine too much. Also, a full bag is a heavy load to carry and dump into the trailer. It is hard to know how full the bag is when working.

We are using two bags. This is a bare minimum to keep the machine running. Sometimes I wish I had three bags, but at $90 each, … ouch. But, I am sure happy that I bought the second bag when buying the mower.

The discharge function is nearly useless. When the clipping count is too high to mulch, and I don't need to bag, having the discharge function to spread clippings would be useful. But, when the clipping count is high, the debris will not flow out evenly from under the chute cover. It will leave clumps, and not spread clippings out evenly. My fear was that it would leave a row, but the row is not where I expected. I thought that since the chute is discharging on the right side of the machine, the row would be left on the right side. But, this is not the case. The row and clumps are on the left side. Apparently, it is throwing the debris to the left out of the chute so well that the primary flow is out from under the cover on the left side. All in all, this feature is disappointing to me, and we will not use it much.

We are left with the primary method of working as mulching (when possible), or bagging. The discharge and partial-mulch features do not work for me in my environment. I've heard others speak positively about the Versa-Mow feature, but, in my experience, not much of a feature there. Having said that, the convenience of on-the-fly changing from full bag, to full mulch mode is a real time saver.

More comments about the blade setup are in this thread,

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=275030

See my posts #4 and #7 (pics of the blades).

Controls and handling: The double handle seems unecessarily complicated. Also, the fact that the left and right side are different (yellow button to engage blade brake control, is on the left) adds to the problem. The mower does not handle as well as we had hoped.

One of my primary criteria for a the mower was weight of the machine. Our former LawnBoy was about 85#. This one is about 95#. We also have a Toro ProLine 21” at about 120#. I've learned that weight isn't everything. In sum, I think the heavier Toro is easier to handle (despite having the two-part ground drive/operator presence handle) than the lighter Honda. The vertical handles at the control just don't seem intuitive. Time and use doesn't seem to change my perception of this problem.

One annoying feature is the disengaging the BBC. The procedure: Push down the yellow button, the hook under the handle catches the control link, push forward on the handle and the BBC engages the blades. The problem is the hook often doesn't engage the link well enough to stay in position. Sometimes it will slip out after 10 seconds, sometimes after two minutes. There is no adjustment to extend the hook so that it more fully engages the link. Does anybody else have this problem? Is the 216 Commercial models work the same way? Is it possible to buy parts from the Commercial model and mount them on this 217? This is frustrating, and I don't know what to do about it. Apparently the tolerances of manufacture are not tight enough to insure that the hook engages the link properly at all times.

By making a concerted effort to push the yellow button down on the far left side (which will extend the rod to the hook), the engagement is more positive and usually will not slip out. But, a more casual pushing down of the yellow button by just putting a hand over the button will not work.

We have learned that the best way to overcome this problem is to do the depressing of the yellow buttom is with the right hand. In other words, it is effective to reach across the handles, so that the yellow button can be most easily depressed on the left-most portion of the button (the side where the rod linkage is connected).

The other problem I've encountered was a degradation of ground speed by the hydro transmission. At about 90-100 hours, I noticed the machine was not moving as quickly. What was a brisk walk at full speed position on the control, was no longer the case. My walk was a casual pace with the lever in the most forward position. It was a slow change, nothing distinct. The ground drive was not jerky, not sporadic, but just the fact that it slowed. It was as if something was stretched and the cable was not engaging the transmission as before.

I solved the problem by making adjustments on the two nuts holding the ground drive speed control cable. The adjustment was quite minor, perhaps 3/16” inch, pulling the cable a bit further back. Of course, the question arises about future use. Was this a one-time event, or will it continue to degenerate requiring another adjustment? So far, it seems to be holding to the same speeds as when I made the adjustment (perhaps 60 hours of use afterward). Maybe something had to get “seated in.” I'm hoping that to be the case, and not a degeneration of the hydro transmission.

In summary, we are pleased with the Honda HRX, Cruise Control, hand mower. It is proving to be productive, bagging is done well (even in difficult conditions), we are able to mulch clippings where we were unable to do so previously,

deere615
05-16-2009, 09:56 PM
Did you try adjusting it so the engine will idle a bit higher like I mentioned before-that seemed to help mine with the surging? although mine still does surge a bit. As for the oil it might just be brown because its not all that dirty since you have it on a tight maintenance schedule. I use geniune honda 10w40. and for the bbc- mine used to pop out every once in a while but not often and hasn't done it in a while

Quality Cuts PLS
05-16-2009, 10:11 PM
Check out Honda's Power Equipment site under lawnmower accessories they make a single high-lift blade. Also Hustler's M1 mower (honda knockoff) comes with double blades and single blade.

joed
05-16-2009, 10:12 PM
Roger,

Thanks for the excellent review of the HRX217 mower. It sounds like a good mower but not truly commercial grade. When I looked at it in the store, I was impressed with the build but did not like the length nor the cumbersome engagement of the BBC and drive levers. It seem liked this would slow you down a lot. The Toro SR4 seemed more intuitive plus is has a decent side-discharge section on the side. Not sure about the Personal Pace though. Seems like you're pushing the mower and not vice versa. Sometimes I think I'd be better off getting another commercial Exmark/Toro. Not that much more but at least you know you're getting a good piece of equipment.

WeCare-LawnCare
05-16-2009, 11:45 PM
Yes, thanks for the info. I can't decide which way to go, but your info will help us decide. We have a Honda dealer close, but not comfortable with the weight, and complicated controls. We can get com LB's here NP, so will probably go that route, but will give these Honda's a second look. Thanks again for posting such great info !!!

madisonpressurewashing
05-17-2009, 11:14 AM
I just bought that mower. It very cool to use the versa at 50-50. The book says to move the lever to the next to last setting for mulching leaves. I do agree the gas tank is small.

CheapScapesNC
05-17-2009, 11:59 AM
Very good mower, keep the blades sharp and has plenty of power. Love the versa mow system, keeps the clippings to a minimum. Have been running it since last year and no problems at all.

hate2work
08-23-2009, 12:08 PM
Roger, you mentioned it was a pain to dump the oil out of this mower. Have you considered using a suction pump instead? There are several on the market, and most hold a pint of fluid or more.

Also, does this engine have a low-oil shut-off feature?

Is another update in the works?

Thanks, great info and update about this mower :)

Roger
08-23-2009, 01:56 PM
hate2work, a couple of more observations about the Honda HRX,

Actually, the oil draining procedure has become much easier. Actually, the last time was doing the draining, I was thinking, "... this is better than having to unscrew a plug and try to hold the engine over a catch tray." I've learned how to line up the mower with the oil pans that I have, and how to grab the handles on the mower for better leverage, and (most important), what angle and position is best to hold the mower for best draining. The whole procedure has been boiled down to taking a couple of minutes -- that's it.

All of this means, I will have to rescind my negative comments made earlier, and give the procedure a thumbs up. I have also streamlined the new inventory -- having a couple of former fresh oil quart bottles, all measured out with 15 oz of new oil. So, a couple of minutes to drain, another couple of minutes to get a pre-measured container, pour into the drainspout, and it is good to go.

The engine does not have a low-oil shutoff feature. In all the running so far, I've never seen the engine use any oil. I continue to change about once per week, Shell Rotella 10W-30. Even within one week, the oil isn't very dark, but certainly not down from the mark when refilling during an oil change. I check it every day before going out, but have never seen it use any oil.

There isn't much to add for an update. I've had to change a ground drive speed selection cable. I started a thread on how to do this task, and ended the thread with a series of annotated pics on how to do the job. It took longer than it should, but now I know what to do (if I need to replace again, or need to replace a engine-to-transmission belt.

No other mechanical issues has cost one minute of machine down time.

The machine continues to get heavy use. In the past six weeks, we have gone from dry (very slow growth), to wet (back to very heavy growth again). The machine has been used in mulch mode much more than we ever used the LawnBoy mower. But, some jobs require bagging. Some early morning jobs find a very, very wet dew. Those are nearly always bagged, and it works well for these conditions. I would prefer dry turf, hence dry clippings, but the HRX works well enough to do a good job under very wet conditions. Probably at least half the cost of the mower has been saved in dump fees, dumping clippings that we would have done in past years with the LawnBoy.

I probably will write a season-end post with impressions and observations over the full season (expected to finish out about Dec 1, maybe later on a limited basis).

Thanks for your suggestion, and inquiry.

hate2work
08-23-2009, 04:49 PM
Thanks Roger, do you have a link to the thread where you replaced the cable?

Roger
08-24-2009, 06:37 AM
Here is the thread that discusses the topic of cable repair. The first post is asking how to make the repair. It sounds a bit desperate - I had a machine down, and didn't immediately see how to make the install. However, after I spent more time, and with the help of the diagram posted, the repair was made. I documented the procedure with pics, annotated them, hoping it may help somebody else with the same need.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=281234

Turf Dawg
08-24-2009, 07:09 AM
The only thing I do not like is the way the wheel/tires are made. I put screws in the outside of mine so the tire does not get pulled away from the wheel around curbs. I still say this is the best cutting trim mower out there for the price.

Roger
08-24-2009, 07:17 AM
TurfDawg - I talked with another person using a HRX for commercial duty, and they had the same issue. Mine has been fine so far. He said the reason he had troubles with the tires/wheels was so many places with sharp concrete edges with deep edges. The wheel ran against the concrete edge, pulling away the rubber. He too used screws to help secure the tire on the wheel. Thanks for confirming the tip.

mds2000
08-24-2009, 11:52 AM
first oil draining is easy run mower for about 30 sec to a min pull the dipstick and lay on its side and out the filler tube gets all to oil and while its draining you can sharpen the blades.

i went from a hrx to an hrc and find it hard to use the hrx now it feels to light hated filling it up every lawn or to my commercial has a 2 litler tank and can get 5 - 6 lawns per tank compared to the one or 2 if lucky.

baging i found that i could usualy get about 3/4 bag till it would not suck any more the commercial will fill the bag and shoot then start to mulch.

i love the controls and the feel of both mowers they are long but im taller and that works beter for me.

i found the clip director would get grass in it and was hard to move from bag to mulch .

the hrx has a 6.5 hp and the commercial has a 5.5 hp i do notice a power diference in taller grass and that is probaly where you get the fuel acconemy.

i noticed the hrx tends to leave a small line of grass on the right side so having to overlap to get the left behind grass is hard to get nice lines.

over all is is a very nice mower but i will probaly go for a nother commercial spending that extra couple hundred is well worth it but either way you cant go wrong with any honda.

this is just my .02 cents and what i have found and my recomendations.

jfoxtrot9
08-24-2009, 12:40 PM
Any more on the surging issues?

I see the tip about uping the rpms to overcome, but this seems ridiculous for what is supposedly one of the best trim mowers out there,don't you think? The surging of this motor absolutely drives me nuts! It actually makes me hate this mower! I have never had a mower that ran like this, none of several Briggs engines (you know, the supposedly inferior engine), not even my one hundred year old spare sounds this bad. Despicable Honda!

I do appreciate the tip about the wheels! Another trouble spot with this mower. I will try it.

Roger
08-24-2009, 08:43 PM
In my case, I didn't mention anything further about the surging because it has all but disappeared. I did nothing to remedy the problem. It seems like a few hundred hours of running made the difference.

hate2work
09-18-2009, 10:06 PM
In my quest to find a new mower after my 12 yo Ariens died, I did a search, found this great site and this thread about the HRX217HXA. Decided to buy one, the only place that had one left around here was HD. Used a 10% discount coupon my wife bought on e-bay for $6 to save almost $75 at the register, that was a good deal.

Got it home last night, put in the fluids and it started with one pull. I ran it for just a few minutes, too dark to mow.

Mowed for an hour with it tonight, very nice mower. Again, started with one pull.

Something surprised me about it... that you have to choke it to start even when it's hot. I did not expect that. No big deal at all, just surprising to me.

You can "feather" the drive bail to slow down, very nice when turning.

Easy to find a pace that suits you, the lever has several detents that cover everything from snail to a fast walk.

I like the Nexite deck, makes the mower light and nimble. After using my nephew's commercial Honda, I realize how heavy it was in comparison. I think the new Honda Commercial 21's are going to have this deck on them.

Both rear wheels are drive wheels. Nice.

It mulches extremely well. Grass is chopped into very fine pieces because of the twin blade setup.

And the rear discharge worked well for me too. In fact, it worked better for me than mulching, as it NEVER slowed down when in the rear discharge mode, whereas it would slow a bit at times when mulching.

The engine ran perfect, no surging at idle as has been reported by some others.

This thing left no stragglers that I could see, even going back and moving the grass with my foot to try and raise them.

Only one thing bothered me, the darned gas tank has such a skinny neck, and is easy to overfill. After mowing for an hour, it was getting low on gas, I can see how this would frustrate a commercial user. Then again, this isn't a commercial mower.

Over all, this is a great mower. But for that much money, it ought to be!! I'm glad I bought this instead of the HRC, this gives me the option of rear discharge that the commercial one doesn't have, is 20 lbs lighter and has folding handles.

Thanks to Roger for this review thread, it helped with my decision tremendously :)

Roger
09-18-2009, 10:18 PM
It will run about 1:30 on a full tank of fuel, perhaps 1:25. I knew this would be a problem, but decided it wasn't that much of a problem. In reality, now that my machine has been through a few hundred hours, the fuel tank isn't as much of a problem as anticipated. I have a 2 1/2 gal can within easy reach on the trailer, good nozzle. I've just become accustomed to refueling at proper intervals -- it has been a long time since I've ran it out. Mine typically runs through four tanks per day, sometimes five, and at the most six. But, by now, I know my route, how long each job takes, and if I can make one or two properties.

My point: Small tank is not as much of a problem in reality as anticipated.

joed
09-19-2009, 07:31 PM
It will run about 1:30 on a full tank of fuel, perhaps 1:25. I knew this would be a problem, but decided it wasn't that much of a problem. In reality, now that my machine has been through a few hundred hours, the fuel tank isn't as much of a problem as anticipated. I have a 2 1/2 gal can within easy reach on the trailer, good nozzle. I've just become accustomed to refueling at proper intervals -- it has been a long time since I've ran it out. Mine typically runs through four tanks per day, sometimes five, and at the most six. But, by now, I know my route, how long each job takes, and if I can make one or two properties.

My point: Small tank is not as much of a problem in reality as anticipated.

Roger,
Have you been able to use the HRX217 to mulch/bag leaves yet? I'm very interested in seeing how the unit does with leaves/fall-cleanup.

Here's a video from Youtube that shows some capabilities of this machine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b1a_uKB6fs

deere615
09-19-2009, 08:02 PM
thats all I mainly use to suck up leaves in the fall is my 2 hrx's they do an excellent job

hate2work
09-20-2009, 12:44 AM
The more I use this machine, the more I like it. Put another hour on it tonight, this time in pretty thick, wet grass. It didn't phase it a bit, just plowed right through, spitting it out the back chute.

Switched to a no-spill gas can, that eliminates any over-filling.

Couple of questions for anyone who might know.

Does it hurt the drive system to feather it? I find it much easier to turn doing that.

Also, does the drive system require any maintenance? I know it has fluid in there, maybe using a high quality synthetic would increase the life of it?

Roger
09-20-2009, 06:34 AM
joed - in this area, only a few very early leaves have fallen. First use on some dry maple leaves is promising, but no good test will be for another few weeks. In the past couple of years, I've put a Gator blade on the Toro Proline for leaf mulching. That has worked well, but will have to learn about how well the Honda does in similar situations.

hate ... I don't think the feathering of the drive creates any problem. Apparently the less-than-full-forward position is only opening/closing a valve, perhaps the same valve as the ground drive speed selector is using. In my experience, I don't feather, rather use the bail in either the full, or "off" position. In the "off" position, the bail is used as another handle to maneuver the machine (e.g. pull to the rear, force side-to-side, etc). In feathering, one has to take care in the position of the bail. I would rather not worry about the position, rather use it forcefully as a handle. In the "off" position, I can pull on the handle with force, not having to be concerned about position.

But, don't worry -- like any piece of equipment, we all find what works best for us, settle into a pattern and rhythm, and be productive.

rm25x
09-20-2009, 08:39 AM
Good review, thanks for the information. I use mostly 21" mowers and also bag with the properties I do.
Right now I use an older Toro 4.5 hp Personal Pace RWD. I love that self propel system. I have tried several other mowers, and still think the personal pace is the best drive system out there IMHO. Just have to get a RWD version, never could figure out why people would want FWD.

I think when it finally wears out, I am going to replace it with this:
http://www.toro.com/professional/lce/wpm/comm21/22156.html

Merkava_4
09-20-2009, 08:47 AM
I'm slowly building up a Snapper Hi-Vac. The plan is to leave the flywheel brake assembly off and use an ignition kill switch instead. The thing is though, I'm trying to keep the restoration costs below that of a new mower. :D

leon2245
05-21-2012, 06:51 AM
I'm slowly building up a Snapper Hi-Vac. The plan is to leave the flywheel brake assembly off and use an ignition kill switch instead. The thing is though, I'm trying to keep the restoration costs below that of a new mower. :D


Super old thread, but what is the advantage of doing this?

Duekster
05-21-2012, 08:25 AM
I bet the mower is still running strong after 3 seasons.

Nice review. I have a 7 year old HRC running strong.

leon2245
05-21-2012, 09:15 AM
At that time, someone in this thread mentioned Honda switching their commercial models to the Nexite decks too. Guess that didn't pan out. Would have been nice. Imagine how light their HRC push model could have been.

siclmn
05-21-2012, 11:17 AM
I know this thread is 3 years old but I recently had to use my HRX for 3 weeks while I had something done to my HRC (that I could have done myself in 5 min) one of the tabs that holds the bag on was always bending so I got lazy and took it to the dealer which was a stupid mistake, just a $20 dollar part.
It sure was nice to use such a light weight mower for that time.
My only complaint was that on some lawns it does not get the edge cut as good as the heavy HRC due to it's light weight, but only one customer complained about it.
It is a great mower and it feels like it floats over the grass rather then rolls through the grass as the HRC does due to it's heavy weight.

leon2245
05-21-2012, 12:16 PM
Just got back from the honda dealer. ONly just now learning that you don't have a "manual reverse" when the gear is disengaged with the blade cutting on either the HRC or HRX. There is still resistance even when it's not in gear.

So only snapper, exmark, & toro become essentially a push mower when the drive lever is not engaged?

Duekster
05-21-2012, 12:22 PM
Just got back from the honda dealer. ONly just now learning that you don't have a "manual reverse" when the gear is disengaged with the blade cutting on either the HRC or HRX. There is still resistance even when it's not in gear.

So only snapper, exmark, & toro become essentially a push mower when the drive lever is not engaged?

The hydrostatic drive will offer resistance for sure.

weeze
05-21-2012, 08:30 PM
i'd get the opti-drive system that has variable speeds. that's similar to the mower i have now. it uses a belt but i've never had to replace the belt and it still works great. i'd never get a hydrostatic/cruise control system. it's just more maintenance and if it goes out you're screwed. the belt drive all you would have to do is buy a cheap belt and you could even use it to push manually until you got a belt for it without having any resistance.

i hate reviews like this when they say things completely opposite of the truth though. the honda engine on my pushmower runs smooth as butter and always has. it doesn't surge or run rough or knock at all and never has. no honda engine i've ever used has including my trimmers so i dunno where all of that comes from. just a review that isn't true in my experience.

GMLC
05-21-2012, 08:41 PM
Just got back from the honda dealer. ONly just now learning that you don't have a "manual reverse" when the gear is disengaged with the blade cutting on either the HRC or HRX. There is still resistance even when it's not in gear.

So only snapper, exmark, & toro become essentially a push mower when the drive lever is not engaged?

I have a 1996 HRC that is still going. The hydro drive is awesome. The resistance is a non-issue. You really have to feel for it to notice it. The mower is very well built and heavy if anything.
Posted via Mobile Device

weeze
05-21-2012, 08:42 PM
i'd get the opti-drive system that has variable speeds. that's similar to the mower i have now. it uses a belt but i've never had to replace the belt and it still works great. i'd never get a hydrostatic/cruise control system. it's just more maintenance and if it goes out you're screwed. the belt drive all you would have to do is buy a cheap belt and you could even use it to push manually until you got a belt for it without having any resistance.

i hate reviews like this when they say things completely opposite of the truth though. the honda engine on my pushmower runs smooth as butter and always has. it doesn't surge or run rough or knock at all and never has. no honda engine i've ever used has including my trimmers so i dunno where all of that comes from. just a review that isn't true in my experience.

sorry it's called smart drive i think. i don't think the honda uses a belt either it uses some type of cone clutch technology so i doubt you'll ever have to replace that at all.

leon2245
05-22-2012, 12:47 AM
I'm confident that honda's system is a more robust, durable, & better choice for 99%+ of users, but I'm so used to what I do with a push 21" that I'm not going to do without my instant self powered reverse- the mower has to be able to cut while I'm quickly pushing & pulling it around tight spaces, & without the drive adding any resistance to the wheels when not engaged.

I realize I'm probably the only one with such a weird requirement, so the "negatives" of the Hondas (along with not having as tall handle bar as others) for my purposes will not likely apply to anyone else.

robert@honda
05-22-2012, 03:31 PM
The drive system in the Honda HRC216HXA is a shaft-drive, fully hydrostatic design.

The HRC216 features the GX160 engine and it has has a special Power-Take-Off that turns a rigid shaft and operates a pump inside the transmission. The pressure created is then modulated by the controls on the handlebar, and causes the rear shaft/wheels to turn. There are no belts or pulleys on the HRC216.

All other current Honda self-propelled mowers use a belt-drive design. Those with the SmartDRIVE controls use a cone-clutch, and will this year move to a slipping belt arrangement. Two of the HRX-series models use a hydrostatic-style transmission, and the third is SmartDRIVE.

I'll speculate that you have not seen a Nexite deck commercial model from Honda are probably:
• the commercial-grade hydrostatic transmission in the HRC won't fit the current Nexite deck
• the commercial-grade hydrostatic transmission requires a shaft-drive, which is not a feature of the GCV190 engine found on the other Nexite mowers.
I don't think any of the belt-drive transmissions are would pass Honda's commercial durability standards. Fine for homeowner use, of course.

-Robert@Honda

Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding was my opinion alone.

mikeclfc
05-23-2012, 08:31 AM
I have 2 of these mowers and have been using them for 18 months mine do not have the blade clutch though as i just see that as another thing to brake - the first one i bought has maybe 2000 hours on it now and the engine still cranks up first time everytime, maybe this is due to changing the oil every 7 days. what has gone out on it is the rear wheel drive, i have spent maybe $200 trying to fix the problem and i now have a working drive but its not really strong enough to pull the mower - so essentially it is now a regualr push mower. i repalced the drive belt and whole transmission assembly, i dont know what else would cause the drive to weaken the wheel gears and bearings all look good.

In my opinion these mowers offer a great cut quality, they are efficient on gas and reliable for an affordable price, my understanding is that the difference between these and a full commerical model is the transmission, which explains my problems. but hey after 2000 hours for $600 id happily buy a new one every 2 years. Money well spent if you ask me.

leon2245
05-23-2012, 12:31 PM
The drive system in the Honda HRC216HXA is a shaft-drive, fully hydrostatic design.

The HRC216 features the GX160 engine and it has has a special Power-Take-Off that turns a rigid shaft and operates a pump inside the transmission. The pressure created is then modulated by the controls on the handlebar, and causes the rear shaft/wheels to turn. There are no belts or pulleys on the HRC216.

All other current Honda self-propelled mowers use a belt-drive design. Those with the SmartDRIVE controls use a cone-clutch, and will this year move to a slipping belt arrangement. Two of the HRX-series models use a hydrostatic-style transmission, and the third is SmartDRIVE.

I'll speculate that you have not seen a Nexite deck commercial model from Honda are probably:
• the commercial-grade hydrostatic transmission in the HRC won't fit the current Nexite deck
• the commercial-grade hydrostatic transmission requires a shaft-drive, which is not a feature of the GCV190 engine found on the other Nexite mowers.
I don't think any of the belt-drive transmissions are would pass Honda's commercial durability standards. Fine for homeowner use, of course.

-Robert@Honda

Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding was my opinion alone.

Re: drive compatibility- what about a push commercial grade with a nexite deck:

At that time, someone in this thread mentioned Honda switching their commercial models to the Nexite decks too. Guess that didn't pan out. Would have been nice. Imagine how light their HRC push model could have been.

Or even a push HRX model, I'd like to see.

NORTHMAN
05-24-2012, 07:24 AM
robertcoats,sir,I have a HRX217 and so far,I'm happy with it,what would the HRC216 do better?The HRC216 has a smaller engine,why and is it able to keep up with the larger non-commercial Honda powered mower?Thyank you.

Outlawn
05-24-2012, 09:28 AM
I haven't read this whole thread, but I like my HRC216HXA. I don't have that Versa-cut function some of ya'll mentioned, just a mulching plug. I have had the same issue with some of the clippings falling out of the left side of the bag, however pulling back 6 inches before engaging the clutch will suck them right up.
My only complaint is about the "Micro-cut" dual blade system. This is great for mulching and even bagging on regular length grass and leaves a great cut on normal length, well maintained grass. However in taller (>6") grass/weeds it tends to turn the grass into a paste that gunks up under the deck.

I am, I suppose, somewhat biased because this is all I have ever used. I took over the business from my dad, and I think he has had 4 all together.

NORTHMAN
05-24-2012, 10:29 AM
Also,any plans for Honda to come out with a larger deck(than 21")mower?

robert@honda
05-24-2012, 10:35 AM
robertcoats,sir,I have a HRX217 and so far,I'm happy with it,what would the HRC216 do better?The HRC216 has a smaller engine,why and is it able to keep up with the larger non-commercial Honda powered mower?Thyank you.

From Honda's perspective, consumer products are not expected to be used commercially, and vice-versa, so the design and engineering standards are different. Honda builds commercial grade equipment for the professional, who is likely to use the machine daily, and needs it to be rugged and reliable. If a machine is in the shop, it can't make the operator any money.

Of course, there are thousands and thousands of commercial operators who use consumer-grade Honda mowers like the HRX and HRR series. These models are built to homeowner wants/needs, and that is why they have variable mulch/bag systems, electric start, etc.; these kinds of features aren't a high priority for commercial operators.

The HRC216HXA uses the 160cc engine, and it's plenty of horsepower and torque for the job, and has been for a long, long time now. The less costly HRX with its larger 190cc engine may sound appealing, but the lack of a commercial-grade transmission and other commercial features like handlebar supports, shaft drive, etc. can make it less attractive. I think the final straw is the warranty: HRC models get 24 months on the engine, and 12 months on the mower. All other consumer grade Honda mowers get just 3 months of warranty when used by commercial operators. Genuine homeowner users get 36/60 months depending on the model, and a lifetime warranty on the Nexite deck.

So what's the bottom line? If the consumer grade mower is doing a great job for you, stay the course. If you're unhappy with it, or it breaks down too often, consider spending more for a true commercial machine that's designed for daily professional use.

-Robert@Honda

Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding was my opinion alone.

robert@honda
05-24-2012, 10:41 AM
Also,any plans for Honda to come out with a larger deck(than 21")mower?

Years ago, Honda offered some awesome walk-behind mult-blade units, 13~20hp, 36", 48", 52" and 60" decks. There was even a sulky option, and you could get full hydrostatic drive or gear drive models. Sadly, the market at the time was starting to fall in love with commercial ZTR products, and Honda ended up discontinuing all mowers except the 21" models.

But you're asking about the future, and Honda won't allow me to share anything about that. Honda does pay attention to what user's want and what's working for them, as well as watching the competition. I'll be happy to pass on any suggestions or a wish-list to the development team

-Robert@Honda

Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding was my opinion alone.

NORTHMAN
05-24-2012, 12:24 PM
Thank you for your reply.

weeze
05-24-2012, 05:25 PM
a honda ztr would be awesome even though there's 1000 companies out there already making them.

Duekster
05-24-2012, 07:55 PM
a honda ztr would be awesome even though there's 1000 companies out there already making them.

I do not know about 1000.

If Honda does make one, do not just test it ondry grass in Florida. Get you some wet nasty winter grass to check. :rolleyes:

weeze
05-24-2012, 09:43 PM
ok maybe only 500

i doubt they will make one. they don't really make commercial ztr engines yet so i would think that would be their first step. they were making semi-commercial engines like for the hustler fast trak super duty and such. i don't know if they still do or not. they make every other kind of engine so a ztr engine seems like it would be their first thing to do. seems to me they could make a better engine than kawi, kohler, or vanguard, or whoever. i've always wondered why they don't do it? would probably run smoother, last longer, and get better gas mileage too.

oughtsix
07-08-2012, 04:03 AM
I have owned a HRX217HYA for less than 1 day. I have about .5 acres of lawn and about 1.5 acres of rough grass with a couple dozen trees (mostly junipers but some pines and some deciduous trees) on my 5 acre lot in central Oregon. Other personal details relevant to this review: I am 6'3" and have pretty large hands. I am a tool nut and love to own the best but I am usually very opposed to paying for the best.

I spent a lot of time comparing the $700 HRX217HYA to the top of the line Toro residential mower 20332 at $360. I couldn't justify spending nearly double on the Honda so I purchased the Toro personal pace mower. The 5 hours I spent doing my spring mow behind the Toro was enough for me to come to hate it and ultimately return it. After 5 additional weeks of unusually high precipitation, major lawn growth and no signs of any decent mower deal on Craigs list I went back to HomeDepot and purchased the Honda HRX217HYA.

Pulling into my driveway with the Honda hanging out of the trunk of my Maxima (the Toro with it's double folding handle fit neatly into the trunk and allowed the trunk to close) I arrived just in time for zone 2 of my sprinklers to finish soaking the 12" high grass and weeds. I figured this was the perfect test for the 190cc Honda engine (The Toro has a 190cc Briggs and Stratton engine).

Pulling the Honda out of the trunk I found it seemed about the same weight as the Toro although the specs say it is 96lbs compared to the Toro 80 lbs.

I am a mechanically inclined person and firmly believe that any product that requires a good read of the manual before operation to be a very poorly designed product. So I filled the engine with the supplied oil , filled the gas tank with last years gas and pulled the start cord. In accordance with Honda's reputation the engine amazingly started on the very first pull. I am still a little mystified about how this was accomplished as I know a fuel systems need priming before the engine will come to life.

My recollection of the Toro mower was the Briggs and Straton engine needed 3 pulls to work the gas through the fuel system before it came to life for the first time... which is what I would expect for a dry engine.

When I was 15 my father finally sold our McClane Reel mower and purchased the then consumer reports number one rated Mower, a Honda. At almost 30 years later the same Honda humm delighted my ears. The Briggs on the Toro had a clanky growl compared to the Honda's whirly humm.
I immediately set to work at knocking down the freshly soaked lawn portion of my yard. On the second lap I noticed the bag to be very heavy and the mower to be very back heavy. So I pulled the bag (This bag is huge in comparison to the Toro!!!) and lugged it over to the grass disposal pile (Man was the bag heavy!). Upon inspecting the first two passes I was not very impressed with the cut!!! I looked at the wheels to find that the front wheels were set 1 notch below top height and the rear wheels were set 1 notch above the lowest height (Stupid me, I should have checked the wheel height in a bit more detail before I started to mow.) After setting the wheels properly in about the middle the cut quality expectedly completely cleared up. The Honda ripped through the soaking grass without flinching. The huge mouth on the bag made emptying it very easy without the heavy wet grass gettting stuck in the bag.

I distinctly remember having a couple problems with the Toro chokeing on the thick lawn which I did not experence at all with the Honda. After the first lap with the Toro I immediately switched it to side discharge mode which aleviated its choking problem. Side discharge is not an option on the Honda and it is defintiely not needed. Side discharge allows the mower to easily move large amounts of clippings out of the way quickly keeping them from clogging the blade causing the engine to stall. The Honda never choked and never stalled.

At 6'3" the ergopnomics of the Toro were just awful. After the first half hour I had to get my back support belt. The handle was way too low and the personal pace speed control system was fighting me the entire lawn! I despise the personal pace speed control system on the Toro. There was no way to fine control the speed of the drive wheels, even after 5 straight hours of mowing I could not find a happy speed control compromise with the system. I would push against the handle and the mower would take off pulling me along with it and jerking my back into an uncomfortable bent over position. Maybe it might work better for a shorter person but for me it was by far the worst feature of the Toro mower.

The Honda on the other hand was a dream to operate. It uses the same blade engagement lever from 30 years ago but they have added a hoop that allows you to keep the blade engaged with your left OR RIGHT hand. A great improvement! The infinite speed control lever is fantastic. Slap the wheel engagement hoop up against the blade hoop and you are off and going at the exact speed you left off at. BUT the best part of all is the speed control hoop isn't just and on/off control but also a proportional speed control on it's own!!!!! YEAH Honda!!!! So, if you hold the speed control hoop at half the distance to the fully engaged position you are moving at half of the speed selected by the speed control lever. This is just fabulous, allowing you to slow the mower down when you hit a thick patch of grass then resume the selected speed when you are through the thick patch. Another beauty of the Honda speed control system is the ability to easily reference your partial speed by opening or closing your hands around the hoop and the handle. Sounds simple but the Toro has no reference bar to loop your fingers over while you change speed with your palms and thumbs. This feature in its own justifies the extravagent price of the Honda for me!!! Another feature of the Honda speed control is how it can be used when you don't want to stand directly behind the mower like when you are next to a tree with low hanging branches. With the Honda you can simple pinch the wheel engagement bar against the handle bar with one hand while you duck under a branch and stand to the side of the mower for a couple feet while the mower goes under the branch. This is next to impossible to accomplish with the Toro. The Toro is difficult enough to regulate the speed when you are directly behind the mower and nearly impossible when you are a couple feet off to the side.

To sum it up, after equal time behind the Toro and the Honda I was crippled for a week with back pain after using the Toro. Using the Honda on the same lawn I was pretty tired but have absolutely no back pain what so ever!

A pretty big feature of my Central Oregon yard is a 20 foot by 60 foot hump in the middle of the rough grass that covers my septic field. The grass and weeds on this hump grow many times faster than the rest of the yard, I suppose due to the constant water and nutrient source from the septic system. The moles also love this soil rich portion of the yard and delight me with several new tunnels every mow. This portion of the yard is always a challenge for any mower even my recently retired John Deere F735 22hp 18 year old ex golf course front deck mower. The weeds will easily get 20 plus inches high before the rest of the lawn needs mowing.

During the initial spring mow the Toro did a very commendable job ripping down these 20" plus weeds with it's 190cc briggs engine that no 160cc mower would be capable of matching. This weed ripping power almost made the Toro a keeper despite all its other flaws. The Honda did an equally supurb job of whacking away this dense jungle but the clippings were far less evident than with the Toro. It is almost amazing at how well the clippings disappeared with the Honda.

The back pain with the Toro was but one of its ergonomic short comings. The noise from the Briggs engine on the Toro was loud enough to require hearing protection or risk atleast temporary hearing issues. The Honda was much quieter and I did not feel a need to use hearing protection. The Toro had a LOT of vibration!!! After pushing it for 5 hours my hands tingled for atleast a few hours. The Honda isn't completely void of vibration but it is MUCH less harsh and I only experenced mild tingling of my hands for 15 to 30 minutes or so. The texture on the molded plastic personal pace control bar left a dusy of a blister between my left thumb and fingers. The smooth metal finish on the Honda control bar left no blister what so ever. I did carelessly pinch my left middle finger between the speed bar and handle bar leaving a small blood blister... but having doe this once I did not do it again. The ergonomics of the Honda far outsine those of the Toro!

One complaint I have with the Honda is the placement of the throttle control. First it is too close to the speed control for the drive system. Second it is too prominant... When I stood to the side and let the mower go under a branch the mower lost all power a few times. This was due to a light brush of the branch against the throttle control reducing the engine speed to idle. I love the Honda controls but if they feel the need to make any changes this would be the place to make them!

I am cheap. At $360 for the Toro I felt ripped off!!! At $700 for the Honda I painfully feel I am atleast getting my moneys worth! My fathers Honda lasted 20 years before a stripped worm gear in the drive system rendered it a ultras heavy push mower with no replacement part available. I will be pleased if I get 20 years of service from my new Honda.

rlitman
07-09-2012, 09:47 AM
. . . So I filled the engine with the supplied oil , filled the gas tank with last years gas and pulled the start cord. In accordance with Honda's reputation the engine amazingly started on the very first pull. . .

I immediately set to work at knocking down the freshly soaked lawn portion of my yard. On the second lap I noticed the bag to be very heavy and the mower to be very back heavy. So I pulled the bag (This bag is huge in comparison to the Toro!!!) and lugged it over to the grass disposal pile (Man was the bag heavy!). . . The Honda ripped through the soaking grass without flinching. The huge mouth on the bag made emptying it very easy without the heavy wet grass gettting stuck in the bag. . .
The Honda never choked and never stalled.


The best part about a Honda mower, is that you can remove every instance of the word "Honda" in that description you wrote which I quoted, and replace it with "Brand X", and every Honda owner will still know that there's only one mower than can do all that. :)

I too love the fact that I can step to the side as I run the mower under a leaning tree, and I too have had the throttle turned off a couple of times by branches. If it really bothered me, I'd probably make something that would deflect branches around it, but it hadn't happened enough for me to care.

Oh, and I mulch, but if I did bag, it would be a lot easier to disengage the blade clutch, and drive the mower over to the grass pile, rather than lug the bag all the way there. LOL.

bblueser
11-17-2012, 01:12 AM
Please describe the differences between the two Honda lawnmower models noted in the title.

Also, I recently purchased a HRX2173hya and noticed the choke has changed from my neighbor's HRX217hxa model. What has changed on the choke, and/or the carb?

Finally, the owner's manual says to add 12.0-13.5 ounces of new oil when changing the oil in my 2173hya. My neighbor's sa7hxa requires adding 15 ounces of oil when changing the oil.

What is the correct amount of oil to add to my HRX2173hya when changing the oil?

Paradise Yard Service
11-17-2012, 05:19 PM
The HRC commercial engine is designed for superior reliability. It includes a cast iron cylinder sleeve, two-stage air filter, ball bearing supported crankshaft.

It lasts longer. Not uncommon for the HRC to last years of weekly service. Had one last ten years. Just change blades filter oil. Never went to the shop. It does not need more HP. Always cut what I subjected it to.
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robert@honda
11-26-2012, 09:33 AM
Please describe the differences between the two Honda lawnmower models noted in the title.
What has changed on the choke, and/or the carb?

What is the correct amount of oil to add to my HRX2173hya when changing the oil?

• The HXA has a manual choke control.
• The HYA has Auto Choke (automatic choke).

• It's hard to say for absolute how much oil to add, as it depends on how completely the old oil has drained. Make sure the height adjusters are all set to the same point, and the mower is on a flat, level surface when checking the oil level. Start by adding 12 ounces, then use the dipstick to check the level. Continue to add a small bit of oil as necessary to bring the level of oil visible about midpoint on the hashmarks at the tip of the dipstick.

-Robert@Honda
Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding is my opinion alone.

bblueser
11-26-2012, 11:54 AM
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bblueser
11-26-2012, 12:07 PM
my neighbor drains the old oil for about 5 minutes, then adds 15 oz of new oil. He says the dipstick shows full.

He has has used an HRX for the last 5 years and his mower has dry fouled the plug and required a new carb a few months ago.

I mention this because I wonder if his engine problems were caused by overfilling the oil?

How sensitive is the GCV190 to overfilling with oil,
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robert@honda
11-26-2012, 12:17 PM
my neighbor drains the old oil for about 5 minutes, then adds 15 oz of new oil. He says the dipstick shows full.

I mention this because I wonder if his engine problems were caused by overfilling the oil?

How sensitive is the GCV190 to overfilling with oil,
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Your neighbor's technique sounds spot-on. Draining warm oil for 5 minutes will likely get all but a few tablespoons worth out of the oil pan.

Overfilling the oil may cause the oil to drain through the breather tube and soak the air filter. This can cause the air supply to be reduced, resulting in a rich-running engine.

Not aware of any particular sensitivities in filling the GCV190's engine oil.

-Robert@Honda
Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding is my opinion alone.

bblueser
11-26-2012, 12:38 PM
Assuming the mower is properly maintained, and used once per week to mow a medium sized lawn, what is the estimated lifespan of an HRX?
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robert@honda
11-26-2012, 12:43 PM
Assuming the mower is properly maintained, and used once per week to mow a medium sized lawn, what is the estimated lifespan of an HRX?
Posted via Mobile Device

Honda does not publish any lifespan values for any mowers or engines. That said, I have personally seen HRX mowers used by commercial operators easily get 1,000+ hours of use. The wheels/tires go first, mostly due to curb/sidewalk scrubbing. For routine, residential use, the HRX should last decades with proper service.

-Robert@Honda
Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding is my opinion alone.

bblueser
11-26-2012, 12:45 PM
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rlitman
11-26-2012, 02:33 PM
Overfilling the oil may cause the oil to drain through the breather tube and soak the air filter. This can cause the air supply to be reduced, resulting in a rich-running engine.

My Honda engines have been very reliable, but they have also appeared to be more sensitive to air filter clogging than other engines.
Filters that appeared to be relatively clean could still cause an engine to run rich. An oil soaked filter would certainly cause this issue, and overfilling can do just what you said.

One thing many people don't pay attention to, is the instructions in the manual about never tilting the engine carb side down. It is clearly written in every Honda manual, but most people read past this, and if you do that, you will also soak the air filter in oil.

The wheels/tires go first, mostly due to curb/sidewalk scrubbing.

Wow!

Paradise Yard Service
11-26-2012, 03:28 PM
You could probably use the Honda for your home and then when you are too old to now, pass it on to your kids.
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Roger
11-26-2012, 06:48 PM
Honda does not publish any lifespan values for any mowers or engines. That said, I have personally seen HRX mowers used by commercial operators easily get 1,000+ hours of use. The wheels/tires go first, mostly due to curb/sidewalk scrubbing. For routine, residential use, the HRX should last decades with proper service.

-Robert@Honda
Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding is my opinion alone.

What he said ^^^^^.

But, the replacement wheels are easy to get, easy to mount.

In heavy use, I change oil once per week, refilling with 16 oz of Rotella 10W-30. The dipstick shows at the "full" line. I drain it out by turning the mower on its side, over a used oil pan (holds a couple of gallons, flat, pour spout on the top, and drain hole on the side). I do not wait five minutes. But, I only drain when the engine is hot. After many hundreds of hours of service, the GCV 190 runs well, starts well, and shows no sign of burning oil, or loosing power.

The engines probably last longer (hours of service life) when run 30-40 hours per week, rather than a homeowner, running it one hour per week, sitting for 167, fire up for 1 hour, sitting for 167 hours, fire up for one hour, etc.

kawasaki guy
11-26-2012, 07:07 PM
Years ago, Honda offered some awesome walk-behind mult-blade units, 13~20hp, 36", 48", 52" and 60" decks. There was even a sulky option, and you could get full hydrostatic drive or gear drive models. Sadly, the market at the time was starting to fall in love with commercial ZTR products, and Honda ended up discontinuing all mowers except the 21" models.



Could you post some pics? They seem cool.

robert@honda
11-27-2012, 04:27 PM
Could you post some pics? They seem cool.

Here's a few photos from an old brochure....

Honda made a series of hydrostatic versions, with various deck sizes; these were based off of Bunton, Inc. designs and assembled at the Bunton plant in Louisville, KY.

• HRC7013, 13hp single-cylinder engine, 36 and 48 inch decks
• HRC7018 & HRC7020, 18hp & 20hp twin-cylinder engine, 52 and 60 inch decks

There was also a gear-transmission model, the HRC7113, also a 13hp unit with a 36 and 48 decks. It had a transmission made by the Auburn, Inc. company.

All had mulching kits and massive side-mount grass bags, as well as the ride-on Sulky...

See attached .PDF file for images..

-Robert@Honda
Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding is my opinion alone.

kawasaki guy
11-27-2012, 04:42 PM
Here's a few photos from an old brochure....

Honda made a series of hydrostatic versions, with various deck sizes; these were based off of Bunton, Inc. designs and assembled at the Bunton plant in Louisville, KY.

• HRC7013, 13hp single-cylinder engine, 36 and 48 inch decks
• HRC7018 & HRC7020, 18hp & 20hp twin-cylinder engine, 52 and 60 inch decks

There was also a gear-transmission model, the HRC7113, also a 13hp unit with a 36 and 48 decks. It had a transmission made by the Auburn, Inc. company.

All had mulching kits and massive side-mount grass bags, as well as the ride-on Sulky...

See attached .PDF file for images..

-Robert@Honda
Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding is my opinion alone.

thanks! :waving:

lietzke
04-06-2013, 04:05 PM
All other current Honda self-propelled mowers use a belt-drive design. Those with the SmartDRIVE controls use a cone-clutch, and will this year move to a slipping belt arrangement. Two of the HRX-series models use a hydrostatic-style transmission, and the third is SmartDRIVE.


Does the HRX2173VKA use a cone-clutch, or the new slipping belt arrangement that you mentioned? What was the reason for the change? Thanks for your information!

weeze
04-06-2013, 09:07 PM
i think it uses cone clutch and a belt but i'm not 100% sure about that.

i'm glad this thread was brought back up since guys on here were bashing me about suggesting someone use an hrx model for commercial mowing. this thread proves that it is a good mower for lawn care business owners especially if they don't use a 21" mower that often which is the case for most of us.

Roger
04-06-2013, 09:35 PM
Does the HRX2173VKA use a cone-clutch, or the new slipping belt arrangement that you mentioned? What was the reason for the change? Thanks for your information!

http://www.jackssmallengines.com/Jacks-Parts-Lookup/Model-Diagram/HONDA/47615/4397

Here is the link to the parts diagram. The last drawing in the set includes the transmission. It looks to be a full gear transmission, input pulley with transaxles.

weeze
04-06-2013, 11:17 PM
well i found this but it is from 2008. it is about the cone clutch tech which is what the honda website says they still use on the hrx vka models. robert did mention something about a belt but i can't seem to find that info anywhere so i dunno if maybe that is on a different model or what.

http://www.honda.com/newsandviews/article.aspx?id=4604-en

edit: found this so i guess it uses a belt too.

http://www.justanswer.com/small-engine/2rgcd-replace-drive-belt-honda-mower-hrx217vka.html

weeze
04-06-2013, 11:29 PM
i figure it would be similar to this honda mower since it has smart drive too:

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saw man
04-08-2013, 12:35 AM
That is a constant tension belt and will not need to replaced very often!!

robert@honda
04-08-2013, 08:46 AM
The HRX2173VKA is a discontinued model, and uses an internal cone-clutch to adjust speed. The belt is under constant tension between the crankshaft and input shaft on the transmission.

The HRX2174VKA uses a belt-tension design to adjust speed. The belt slips/grips as you move the control lever to adjust speed, and the "4" weighs about 1 lb. less.

Otherwise, all the features, controls, warranty, etc. are identical. You may find the "3" at a slight discount, but really depends on the dealer/retailer.

-Robert@Honda
Caveat: I work for Honda, but the preceding is my opinion alone.

weeze
04-08-2013, 10:37 PM
thanks robert. that clears things up.

i guess it works like my craftsman mower with honda engine. the more you pull the lever the tighter the belt gets and makes it go faster. i've had the original belt on my craftsman for over 10 years now so the belt will last a long long time unless you mow 8hrs a day everyday or something. i only have a few yards where i use a 21" for about 15min each time so not alot of use. i did use the mower i have to cut my 1/2 acre yard for a few seasons at my old house. the belt drive design is a more simple design and better since it's easy to replace a belt rather than a transmission. i'm glad honda did that. i'll definately be getting a hrx2174vka for my next pushmower when the time comes.