Can't Pull Mower Backwards - HRR216VLA to bearing conversion

Briantii

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Hey guys,

I've been working for a while on my mower (hrr216k8vya) trying to permanently fix the "can't pull backwards" issue. The problem is always inside the adjuster bushings. They get dust and gunk in them and start to seize up. I've tried adding a zerk fitting and that was moderately successful until it got so full of gunk / plugged up that it would simply push the dust seal out.

Looking at the typical consumer Honda design it seems to me there are potentially two issues:

1) Plastic bushings - are these REALLY the best plan or just the cheapest?

2) The dust seal is ONLY on the deck side of the mower. Any dust blowing around inside the wheel cover / drive gear area can go straight into the bushing with no seal. The HRX217 series it seems they have a seal on BOTH sides of the bushing.


I'm currently testing my latest idea - replace the bushings with needle bearings AND add a second dust seal. So far after one mow, it seems to be working great and doesn't need to be re-greased / refreshed (unlike the Zerk fitting which required constant greasing to keep the bushing lubed)


I figured I'd share what I've got in case it helps anyone - keep in mind I've NOT performed extensive testing with it yet, but I'd argue that it rolls backwards better than any of the new Honda's in the store... so I'm hoping I'm on to something. The real test is if I can get through a season without messing with it. :)

To convert to bearings

Required parts / tools:


  • Bench Vice
    Drill
    11/16th drill bit (hard to find, check Amazon)
    (4) 1/2 x 11/16 x 1/2 bearings (hard to find, check Amazon)
    (4) Honda 12.7mm dust seals
    Your existing adjusters for modification
    Quick Set Epoxy - I used Harbor Freight cheap stuff

The idea is pretty simple, there are no bearings that fit inside the adjuster so we have to modify the adjuster housing to accept them.

1) AFTER pushing out the existing plastic bushings, Drill out the existing adjuster from the OUTSIDE (wheel side) in, leaving about 3mm un-drilled on the deck side. This un-drilled side will ensure we get the "best" dust seal fit on the deck side of the mower.

GOPR0688.jpg

2) Put two bearings down inside the adjuster and CAREFULLY use epoxy to secure them. Do not get epoxy in the bearings :)

GOPR0692.jpg

3) Epoxy the dust seals in place on both the inside and outside of the adjuster. I recommend using the transmission shaft to ensure alignment of the outside dust seal since that's the side we've drilled from and it will NOT self align.

GOPR0701.jpg

4) Allow epoxy to set up. It should look about like this when you're done.

GOPR0705.jpg

5) Grease the bearings and reassemble. I used a dry lube around the dust seals and tried to avoid getting grease around the dust seals. Basically grease will grab any dirt / dust so I tried to avoid that.

Good luck and I'll update the thread with the good (or bad) results as I get more use out of this setup. Frankly if this doesn't work (provide at least a solid season of trouble free mowing) I'm ditching this mower and getting something else.
 

upupandaway

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Hey guys,

I've been working for a while on my mower (hrr216k8vya) trying to permanently fix the "can't pull backwards" issue....
Doesn't yours have the "clicker" when you pull the mower back?? Everytime i come across a honda(including hrr216's) that is hard to pull backwards, the pinion gear that drives the wheels, on the shaft has ratchet notches that gets all locked up with dirt.
They "click" when you pull back but engage when using the self propel. They lock up and just need clean and lube.
If this is standard, you are just reducing friction for the self propel assembly.
 
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Briantii

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Doesn't yours have the "clicker" when you pull the mower back?? Everytime i come across a honda(including hrr216's) that is hard to pull backwards, the pinion gear that drives the wheels, on the shaft has ratchet notches that gets all locked up with dirt.
They "click" when you pull back but engage when using the self propel. They lock up and just need clean and lube.
If this is standard, you are just reducing friction for the self propel assembly.
Nah, you've got the functionality backwards. The "clicking" is when you push forward. When you pull backwards the pinion is locked to the drive shaft / axle and even if you're only trying to turn one wheel backwards the shaft is solid and has to spin on BOTH adjuster bushings. From everything I've seen the primary cause for drag pulling backwards is the adjuster bushings with a very small amount being added by the transmission / belt. If you're seeing an improvement when you clean up the pinions it's probably because you're getting cleaner / WD40 / whatever straight into the open bushing which is right there. Even a little WD40 in that spot will provide a significant temporary improvement, but it's because the lube got in the bushing, not the pinion gear. Gunked up pinion gears would only apply if it was hard to push forward. (or more likely a slipping forward self propelled)
 

Briantii

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Just a quick update. 3 mows and still working great. Bushing system wanted to start dragging a little after the first mow and truly annoying by the end of the 2nd. So far so good on this setup without touching it. I can actually turn the mower with one wheel still and the other going backwards- easily. Doesn’t seem like much but a huge improvement compared to stock. Will update further as I get more hours on the setup.
 

tayto

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wondering how this is working? i bought a used hrr216k9vka last season, used it with out the self propelling feature. tore it apart last week and found one of the wheels seized. tried to order updated parta from honda but back ordered until end of april. while I like the needle bearings not sure if the shaft will wear prematurely. did ypu ever think to use some bronze oilite bushings?
 

dfbrown

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On the hrr216 there are some good YouTube videos out there. I take it all apart each wheel and height adjusters. Leave trans installed and belt. You can move thr trans left end right ok. Sand and clean the transmission axle when the height adjuster would be located on the axle ok. Clean everything like real OCD and grease the height adjusters and the key way and spring and put back together. Should be way way smoother and easier to pull backwards with no sense of lock up. FWIW I have had great luck with amsoil red synthetic grease nlgi#2. As per service this is to be done every 150 hours on hrr216 and hrx217. If you wash your mower a lot it Bedoya problem. Surface rust on the axle builds up and make it stiff too on thr axle and height adjustment bushings. Yeah sucks there plastic but I’m sure with the 400$ price point is why it is what it is. The all new hrn216 has ratchets and pulls forward and back so easy like a non self propelled mower would. Huge improvement. hope this helps. Good luck
 
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tayto

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i believe the plastic bushing has been removed? appears to be steel on steel. after I cleaned up shaft i test fitted the adjusters on both sides and there is a fair bit of slop between them and the shaft. i will check tomorrow when I reassemble and test.
 

Briantii

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No I just used the needle bearings. The real issue is that gunk gets in there and jams everything up. It comes in I believe on the wheel side since there is no dust seal there, just the plastic wheel cover on the back side. You could try just cleaning and adding an inner dust seal.

My issue with cleaning it out was that I got no where near 150 hours before it started to drag again. For me it was more like 2 hours. So far the needle bearings are workzing great, much better than even perfectly lubed plastic bushings. I won’t have long term results for a few months as mowing season is just starting, but so far it’s perfect. Remember I added a dust seal and needle bearings both. If you try bronze bushings please update with the results. My only goal is to figure out an easy way to make these mowers perform like they should have from the factory. So far my current solution is working much better than all prior attempts. If it fails I may just buy a commercial mower or new HRN.
 

Briantii

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i believe the plastic bushing has been removed? appears to be steel on steel. after I cleaned up shaft i test fitted the adjusters on both sides and there is a fair bit of slop between them and the shaft. i will check tomorrow when I reassemble and test.
HRR should have a plastic bushing in each adjuster. Sometimes it can appear shinny but it’s plastic in there.
 
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