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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2017

    Honda HRX217HYA Mower - my thoughts so far - very satisfied, with some minor caveats

    After reading a lot of reviews I settled on replacing my venerable and very tired Toro 22" self propelled walk behind with a new Honda HRX217HYA I bought at Northern Tool for $729 plus tax. The two points I had to consider is that one, I have owned Toro mowers in an unbroken line stretching back to 1974 and two, the Honda was more than double the price of a replacement Toro. It was not an easy decision. The reviews mentioned the five year warranty, incredible vacuuming ability, which is important to me since I catch all of my cuttings and leaves blown out from under the hedges and that the mower was faster than most. At first I was quite disappointed since the fastest speed I could attain was miserably slow, a fact that actually lead me to this forum. Fortunately someone here posted a page from the mechanic's manual (as opposed to the owner's manual which tells you next to nothing mechanical) which explained how to quickly and properly adjust the ground speed by repositioning two nuts under the handle throttle. Five minutes and two crescent wrenches and the mower at full speed ran like a scalded ape, as advertised. My biggest complaint, though is that, from my perspective at least, Honda went way overboard on safety features related to the engaging and disengaging of the blade. If one uses the mower as set up it's necessary to hold down a button on on the handle, then while holding it down push the bale lever forward to engage the blade, then push the handle lever that's behind that one forward to engage the clutch to start self-propelling the mower. It's cumbersome, tiring on the hands and disengages whenever you pull back on the mower, such as when you're cutting under a shrub where you pull back repeatedly. After each pull back the process has to start all over. To me that was unacceptable. I fixed it.

    While I hesitate to suggest to others that ANY form of safety mechanism should be done away with, for me it was an easy no brainer. If you wish to do any of this it's at your own risk and I assume no responsibility for the results. I'm just telling you what I did. First I tried zip tying the safety button down and wrapping it with duct tape, but after awhile it would work a little loose and still not engage the blade. I figured out how the linkage worked with the button and wired it up with safety wire - problem 1 eliminated. Second, I cut a 7" piece of 1" schedule 20 PVC pipe, rounded the sharp edges on the ends, split it lengthwise, heated it with a heat gun until it was pliable and spread it so I could file off the sharp edges of the split. I reheated it and while it was still soft slipped it over the main mower handle with the blade engagement bale engaged, which formed the PVC into an oblong cross section. By rolling the PVC over the blade engagement bale the bale stays hard up against the mower handle, thus keeping the blade spinning continuously when mowing. The only movable bale handle remaining is the one that engages and disengages the drive clutch which on most other mowers is normal. All this took less than 30 minutes to do and now the mower works like a charm. I start the mower with the blade disengaged, push the blade bale forward into the slot on the PVC thus engaging the blade and then roll the PVC over which holds the bale in place. The blade will continue to spin until the catch bag is full at which time I roll the PVC back over, allow the bale to come back through the split to the disengaged position (I highly recommend disengaging the blade because one, it keeps you from losing fingers and two, the vacuuming effect of the blade is so strong that you'll get a face full of cuttings when you lift the bag off if it's still spinning), idle the engine down, dump the bag, replace the bag, re-engage the blade, roll the PVC back to the "closed" position and go on with my mowing. You'll only have to crank the mower once unless you need to refuel. Always start the mower with the blade disengaged because when engaged it's a lot harder to pull start and probably harder on the engine. The mower is smooth, fast, cuts very clean and the double stacked blade system grinds up even tall, wet St. Augustine grass into fine little pieces that prevent the cuttings from choking up the discharge chute into the catch bag. This was often a problem with my Toro. Because the cuttings are ground so fine it takes longer to fill the bag up thus eliminating at least half of the number of times the bag needs to be dumped. The variable hydro-static clutch system allows for the instantaneous reduction or increase in speed as desired and another major plus is that the wheel traction is excellent allowing single handed operation most of the time. You don't have to help this mower along, therefore you come away less tired and less overheated. I do find that the load of wet grass in the bag will start to tip the mower backward right about the time it needs to be emptied anyway so it's not a problem. The only other issue I can think of is that if you're mowing along a hedge or shrubs sticking out you need to but the right hand (starboard) side to the branches so the branches won't catch the throttle and clutch speed levers on the left side handle and pull them back.

    In the final analysis, if the machine is taken care of properly and holds up as advertised it's well worth the money. Just the time and effort I save is worth much more than the difference in price. I cut the grass more quickly than ever before, cleaner and with less droppings. At 59 years old and with every summer getting hotter here in South Florida I was on the verge of buying a riding mower. Now I'll hold off a few more years. It's a damn good machine.

    Below are images and explanations. Hopefully they load as intended since this is the first time I've posted here. Remember, make these modifications at your own risk and always keep safety first in your mind.

    Clutch button engaging mechanism wired tight:

    Split PVC in the disengaged position:

    Split PVC in the "engaged" position holding the blade bale against the handle (note the white duct tape on there far side of the handle from my earlier attempt to keep the engage button depressed):

    Blade and clutch bale engaged as when mowing:


  3. #2
    LawnWorld Support Catherine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Re: Honda HRX217HYA Mower - my thoughts so far - very satisfied, with some minor cave

    Welcome to the forum. It looks like you have really done your research on that Honda
    LawnWorld Support

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