When to quit on a Honda HR214?

nocarmanMay 18, 2008

We bought a used Honda HR214 in 1991, and it's been great.I have no idea how old it really is.

Still starts on the first pull and just does what it's supposed to do.

A couple of weeks ago, however, whatever allows the rear wheels to free wheel when the mower is pulled backwards locks up whether the engine is running or not.

There is 3/16-3/8 play in the drive clutch lever as per the manual.

Other than the blade, nothing has been touched under the deck since we bought it. I thought I'd take a look at the transmission and ran into chunks of deck missing, a rusty axle, bolts that don't want to break loose, floppy axle bearings.

Do the Honda people have any recommendations??

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lawnmowerdan(ne fla)

fix it-still the best mower ever made.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 9:19PM
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Yes- I agree it's the best. Does anyone have any ideas regarding the rear wheel lockup while pulling the mower backwards?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 10:17PM
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I have had the 214 since day one and love it. Recently the faster has been as slow as as the slower speed and I have to run the mower on choke position to get any speed out of the drive. How do I adjust the throttle cable and tighten it up so that it is running at the correct speed? Thanks

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 9:29AM
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Fix it or get it fixed. You know the mower and cost of repair will be cheaper than buying new.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 12:35PM
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With the deck damage and wear you mentioned, I think (I know) I would get a new one. If you can't fix it yourself, which I inferred from your question, you could spend hundreds putting it back into shape, only to have the engine go bad next year. Treat yourself to a new Honda HRX. I would then put the old one on ebay for $25 and see if anybody still thinks its worth fixing.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 2:00PM
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Chunks missing from the deck would be reason enough for me to abandon it. Sure it may (or may not) be cheaper to fix this mower, but in the long run the remaining original parts will probably fail sooner than a new quality mower will.

You really need to know the actual costs before making a decision.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 3:43PM
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I have had an HR214SX since 1983. Great mower! I say FIX IT!

The problem with the wheel locking up is just a part right behind the wheel- called a "rachet" and it is $20.00. But it might only need cleaning and lubrication. There are a couple of "dogs" in there that cause the part to ratchet one way and lock up the other.

The replacement axle bearings are about $18.00 each.

Doing these repairs is worth the money, as a new mower will cost you a lot more, and wont last nearly as long. Sadly, new hondas are not near the quality, except maybe the commercial models (@ $1,200.00 each!) AND, you will save this one from the dump, making you "green", and satisfied you did the work yourself.

If the chunks out of the deck have not bothered you to date, they probably wont bother you any time soon. The rusty bolts can be freed with good penetrating oil and TIME- get some Seafoam Deep Creep at AutoZone. Let the bolts soak a day or so.

The engine on the HR214 is practically bulletproof. Probably the best engine ever put on a lawnmower. It will likely last for years to come. If it starts to smoke, then rebuild it!

And when was the last time you replaced the belt on this mower????

Here is a link that might be useful: Plano Power parts for HR214SX- rear wheels

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 4:07PM
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I loaned my HRA 214 to a neighbor for the summer for his son to use. He returned at the end of the year saying it would not start. I checked and I don't see any spark. I double checked the little electric switch on the throttle cable and it seems to be ok. Is it the Magneto and how hard is it to replace?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 6:47PM
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If the module is bad, it is quite easy to replace. They don't fail too often tho. How are you testing for spark? To get to the module- off with the recoil and the shroud lifts off. Try a new spark plug first and then isolate the module by unhooking the small wire that grounds the module to kill the engine. Still no spark, it's worth a try to clean up the mounts and pick-ups and retest again.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:37PM
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Get rid of it.......once the deck is rotten,that's pretty much it...This is why I always advise keeping the deck clean! not only do you have a bad design engine, but the deck is waiting to break were the wheels bolt on......or the handle.And just when you least expect it;the wheel will break off and scalp your lawn!Possibly bending the crank too... Then it'll cost you hundreds just to get what you have now; A rotten honda mower

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:16PM
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folks i have hr214 sx (self propeller) and i have been only owner since day 1(23 years). last summer the tranny started to slip whenever it had to go up a hill. i took it to my local guy and told me it was about $500 for parts and labor and it time to retire the machine. i went out and bought a new honda hrr216 variable speed unit, it's nice but i would rather have my hr214 working. this was the 2nd time for tranny work on the 214. any ideas?? is it easy to redo the tranny??

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:06PM
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I bought my HR214 new in 1983 and it has been the best lawnmover I have had. It still does a great job. Recently, the end of the clutch cable broke off. I have a new cable. Has anyone replaced this cable before? Any information would be appreciated. Do you have to drop the axle to change the cable?



    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 5:37PM
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I'm new to this forum so forgive any protocol miscues here.

A friend gave me a self-propelled HR214 but the handle is stuck at such a low angle, it's impossible to use without hurting my back. The "height adjustment" indicator where the handle attaches to the main part of the mower doesn't seem to have any moving parts. I can't figure out how to get the handle to swing up to a comfortable angle. This seems too minor to take to a shop--what am I not seeing?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 2:24AM
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First of all, I hope all of you previous 'posters' read this...The older honda mowers (with exception to the commercials) WERE the best ever built. Honda pretty much built themselves out of the lawn mower business, that's why those older 'good' ones aren't built anymore. They weren't making money on them because they'd never break and last forever.

I'm using 2 HR214SX's (ORIGINAL RECEIPTS/OWNERS MANUAL FROM 1988) and 2 HRC216HRX's (commercial, 1 FROM 1995 AND 1 NEWER ONE) for my lawn business. THERE'S NOTHING BETTER.

Let me just mention, lonestar245 is right on the money, except for one thing...the HR214's don't have belts, the self propel is shaft driven, so don't spend your whole day looking for belts to adjust/replace, cause you won't find any.

Those ratchet things are the problem to the hard wheels, as mentioned before. I'm showing Part# 23510-VB5-803 for the right and Part# 23520-VB5-803 for the left, $20.14 each. Pull off the wheel and there it is...schematic listed below:


Hope this helps. You can look up all of the schematics on that website and you can even rebuilt the mechanical tranny by looking at the picture if you're mechanically inclined. Don't waste your money on the HRR/HRX mowers from Home Depot. They're crap (that's why Honda builds them so you'll be back for a new one 5 years down the road). And if you thought 20+ years was bad for the tranny on your HR214, you'll be even more disappointed when the belt driven Hondas they're making now go out after 5 years.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:22AM
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I'm happy that hondasforever came up with this post the same day that my HR214Sx had a locked left rear wheel. You can push it straight forward but it won't turn left because of the stuck ratchet. I will buy a ratchet and try to install it myself.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 3:18PM
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@RescueMN -- Does that model have an oil level switch, and is it functioning? I had an older one that had that which died -- it was a bugger to find out because it would prevent spark because it thought there wasn't enough oil in the engine.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 8:11AM
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So one of the posters mentioned, not to go for a HRR or HRX. I am in the process of buying a new lawnmover...anyone have recommendations for a long lasting / good quality mover. I am thinking of getting the walk behind ones.
What are craftsman like?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:56AM
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Get a Toro.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 7:14AM
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Great comments about great mowers. I have two HRA 214's and agree they are the best. Here is my problem with one of the mowers. I cannot disengage the blade. I originally thought the spring that disengages the clutch was shot so I changed it and I still cannot disengage the blade. Does anyone have any ideas?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:40PM
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Just bought a 214 and would like to rebuild/restore it. Anyone have a service manual they can send me ? $35 is more than I purchased the whole mower for.

thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:56AM
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I am replacing the rear bearings and taking the ratchet drives out. My question is, does the ratchets get grease and if so, what kind?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 1:52PM
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tooltime79(Midwest US)

Hondas are overrated. I have a 1985 Snapper still works perfectly used year around. Only had to replace belts and wear rubber on disc. Gave it to a neighbor 10 years ago and he loves it.

Quit over paying for a name, get a Toro or Lawnboy or Snapper.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 11:49AM
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I fix mowers! A feller brought in his Honda walk-behind, Self propelled, with the left rear wheel axle bolt broken off inside the height adjustment part. Ordered a new axle bolt, finally got it today. Started working on it, but i couldn't keep the wheel in place, even with the new axle bolt. As soon as i moved the mower forward, that axle bolt came loose, even with a serrated lock washer under it.
I worked on it for some time, then set it outside and called the owner to come get it!! No Charge! And thats what i get for disobeying my long-standing rule: NO HONDA'S! by: Rusty Jones, The Mower Man.
PS: I always said--"Hondas make good boat anchors!"

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:36PM
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I was given a Honda 214SX several years ago and it works great and still starts on the first pull. All I do is change the oil and filter each spring. Recently, I heard an intermittent squeaking sound when the gear is engaged. I have sprayed WD40 on the rear wheel axles but I think the noise is coming from the differential. The owners manual does not list any lubrication schedule for this part and I do not see any grease fittings. Should this taken apart and greased or just oiled from both sides?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 6:48PM
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tooltime79(Midwest US)

When to quit? At purchase time. Get a Toro or Snapper. Hondas are overrated and average at best.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 10:49AM
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tooltime79(Midwest US)

My neighbor's Honda broke down so I mowed his yard with my Snapper rider. He normally only fills 1 bin with the grass clippings. I over-filled two bins mowing at the same height. And he was amazed at how good the lawn looked.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Back in 2008 when I said "when was the last time you replaced the belt on this mower" I was being facetious. there is no belt to replace, and that was the point.

To those Honda haters- good for you, more for me! Seriously, the old 214's and the 215's with aluminum decks were some of the best, most durable mowers ever built, I don't care what anybody says.

Yes, Snappers are great mowers. I find them to be very durable, but they are typically hamstrung with a weak Briggs engine that will wear out long before the deck. And they lack features I appreciate on my Honda- like the blade brake clutch, the easy starting of the Honda GXV, and the easy movement of all wheels on ball bearings.

Back to Honda-

the transmission is sealed, so you have to split the case to replace the grease. Someone suggested you could drill a small hole in the bottom and one in the top, flush it, then refill from the top after placing a self tapping screw in the bottom drain hole.

When the trans starts to slip, check the adjustment on the clutch cable. It stretches over time, and eventually wont engage the clutch. If this doesn't fix the slipping, the clutch is worn out and you need to replace it. Its not easy, but not impossible. Whatever you do, don't just give up and throw the mower away. Put it on ebay or craigs list and somebody will buy it- broken or not.

Its a good idea to flush the wheel bearings out with WD40 if you wash the mower (to remove the water), then oil the bearings with something heavier- I use 30wt motor oil. These bearings will squeak if left dry, and prematurely wear out.

The drive ratchets can be lubed with whatever- I use a spray white lithium grease. Nothing too sticky or heavy is needed, but something that will stay in place.

If the blade does not disengage, check the adjustment of the BBC cable, take the blade brake clutch apart and check the springs, check the 3 ball bearings for excessive wear (they will usually fall out of the triangular holder when they are worn down), and check the friction material on the brake and clutch for excessive wear.

Lastly, I would put my money in an old 214 or 215 (aluminum decks only!) before I would buy a new mower. I currently own a 215SX 4.5hp 3 speed, and 215SX 4.5hp Hydro, and a 215 5hp Hydro.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 4:03PM
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In answer to your question: The next time you drag it out into the sunlight, keep on dragging it out to the curb for trash day pickup, and you'll be doing yerself a favor!
Oh, i have given several away to boaters, to use as cheap anchors!
I have a strict rule in my shop---NO LAWN BOYS, AND NO HONDAS!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 4:00PM
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Hi guys,

I just started restoring a honda hr214...it looks like a really well build machine!


And let me know what you think!

Here is a link that might be useful: Honda hr214

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 7:49PM
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"haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love, I dont even want, none of the the above... I want to #### on you, yes I do thats what im gonna do, iss on you, iss on you"

From the great Dave Chappelle as R.Kelly. One of the best.

Im used to it on car forums, im the For guy and those Chebby guys, man they are so serious all the time! :)

I just dont see how anyone could knock any of the Honda equipment save for their carbs. But even with that as long as you maintain your machine in accordance with manufacturers recommendations that even will be fine.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:02AM
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I have the mower running and it runs smooth, but the transmission is stuck in high. I cannot get it into low.
I really do not know that much about the transmission.
Does anyone have any info on what I should try.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:38PM
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I have a HR 214 and I changed the blade after sharpening it and now the clutch(I think the clutch) is locked. But what locks up the blade from moving. I didn't bang anything I just took the screws out of the blade holder and put it back on and now the thing will not turn ...Why? And if the carburetor is leaking should I just clean the jets and float???? I was given an estimate of $225.00 and I feel that this is too much after the mower was just running before I sharpened the blade. I was told that it needed a blade holder. If the blade holder is bent would that prevent it from turning?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 10:21PM
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Keep it as long as you can repair it. It is the best mower ever made.

For your issue, it may just be the wheel ratchets that need replaced. These allow it to freewheel in reverse but engage when power is applied to self-propel the mower forward. They are pretty cheap and I bought all my parts at Boats.net which has every part made for the HR214. It is a great site and reasonably priced. It also has exploded diagrams of how the mower works, free, online.

I have to mow about 2 acres of tall native grasses and weeds (and lots of rocks) and pretty much abuse any mower. I do not yet have riding mower due to budget constraints and the yard is slowly getting cleaned of rocks, but it is still rough. I went through two craftsmen mowers and a lawn boy in three years. Then I got a used Honda HR214 from a friend who bought it used when it was 10 years old. He is an engineer and maintained the engine per schedule. Now it is 25 years old. When I got it, it was leaking gear oil and the cables needed replaced and also the wheel ratchets were stripped out. I too found little metal fragments in the wheels. I replaced the transmission seals and wheel ratchets and later bought new wheels once I found out that my repairs would make the mower usable. I also replaced and adjusted the cables which is dead simple on these beautifully engineered mowers. On the HR214, the Honda Engine is Commercial Grade and after 25 years it will still outlast any new consumer grade mower engine.

I have now used it for three years in horrible conditions. hit rocks, sucked in massive amounts of dust, etc. It still starts every time first pull and runs like a top. I change the oil and service it about once a years but really need to do it more since I put LOTS of hours on the mower. I plan on getting a riding mower at the end of this year and keeping the HR214 for those little hard to reach areas of the yard. It will probably last another 25 years. It is such a beautiful piece of Engineering that I feel bad for working it so hard.

One thing to note is that It is normal for it to puff a little blue smoke if it has not been started for a while or if the oil reservoir has been overfilled.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 4:13PM
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