Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

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iceport
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Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by iceport » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:25 pm

UPDATE: I now have first-hand experience. See this post below: viewtopic.php?p=2048161#p2048161

I am in the market for a new gas-powered push mower, and have all but settled on a Honda: the HRR216PKA. It seems to require the fewest compromises in features and quality in a small and very disappointing field of push mowers currently available. One of the most attractive features is the twin blade, which supposedly excels at mulching. I mulch every time except the last couple of cuttings in the fall, when I bag to collect only the late-falling acidic oak leaves. Otherwise, I mulch everything: grass, birch, ash and maple leaves, sticks and twigs.

Unfortunately, on the Consumer Reports website and elsewhere (http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/loa ... 20254.html, http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/loa ... 02.html?20) there are several customer reviews complaining of un-cut grass strips with Honda mowers like this. Considering the inflated price of these mowers, I would be very unhappy to buy one only to find out it cuts poorly.

So I have this question: Have you experienced poor cutting performance from a Honda lawn mower with twin blades?

Thanks for sharing any experience you've had,
--Peter
Last edited by iceport on Sun May 04, 2014 1:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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obgraham
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by obgraham » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:39 pm

No uncut grass on my 15 year old Honda mower.
Twin blades mulch well.
Now getting the engine to start, that's a different matter.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by windaar » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:46 pm

Now getting the engine to start, that's a different matter

Use a gasoline stabilizer religiously and you won't have this problem.

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iceport
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:57 pm

obgraham wrote:No uncut grass on my 15 year old Honda mower.
Twin blades mulch well.
Now getting the engine to start, that's a different matter.

I wonder if the design has changed. One of the comments I linked to in the OP notes that a 24 year old Honda didn't have the cutting problem that the new one has, either.

--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by toblerone » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:06 pm

No problems with my twin-blade Honda push mower, 12 years old.
It will leave a line of clumped up grass if mulching too much at once. I keep it at the highest setting and mow regularly with sharp blades, and it does a great job.
As for starting issues, yes on the gas stabilizer, and close the fuel valve when not in use. I usually close the valve about a minute before I finish, which leans it out before shutdown, and keep it happy, starts on one pull next time.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Bengineer » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:14 pm

obgraham wrote:No uncut grass on my 15 year old Honda mower.
Twin blades mulch well.
Now getting the engine to start, that's a different matter.


Veering off topic ...
I own the HRR216PDA. The twin blades do cut the clippings into finer pieces == more in the bag.

If you're having trouble starting it (assumig fresh gas & clean air filter) & it idles rough once started, clean the carb, meaning remove, disassemble, clean out with carb cleaner & reassemble. Look up videos on Youtube for the GCV160 carb. I bought mine used & it was hard to start & wouldn't idle. Cleaned the carb & it starts on the first pull & idles like a happy kitten. I always use stabil in my gas.

Now to Petrico's Q. I mostly bag my clippings & so haven't noticed it missing a strip. I'll try a test run with the mulching plug in tomorrow & report back.

Update: I put in the mulching plug & mowed a strip. All the grass was clipped off at the same height going forward & also backward for good measure. I note that the new ones have a "clip director" rather than a plug. I don't know how that might change the under-deck airflow dynamics when mulching, but I can't think it would be much.
Last edited by Bengineer on Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by sss2009 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:25 pm

I have been using the Honda lawnmover since 2012, and so far its been perfect. Nice uniform cut and starts quickly. No problems so far.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:48 pm

Bengineer wrote: I mostly bag my clippings & so haven't noticed it missing a strip. I'll try a test run with the mulching plug in tomorrow & report back.

Thanks! That would be great.

One of the comments in Consumer Reports said the the cut was velvety smooth in dense grass, but an un-cut strip is left in less dense areas.

--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by jeff1949 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:12 pm

I just bought a Honda mower about 3 weeks ago and have had no such problems......very satisfied so far!

Here is the mower that I bought:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Honda-21-in- ... /203709643

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:26 pm

jeff1949 wrote:I just bought a Honda mower about 3 weeks ago and have had no such problems......very satisfied so far!

Here is the mower that I bought:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Honda-21-in- ... /203709643

Thanks. That's the same mower as the one I'm considering except yours is self-propelled. They should cut exactly the same.

Just out of curiosity, is your lawn very dense or not? (Mine has a variety of grasses and densities.)

--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by bubbadog » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:34 pm

Purchased one in 2009, no problems. Best residential push mower in my opinion.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Toons » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:40 pm

No problems here with Honda dual blade,cuts excellent,6 years old.Starts up first pull the beginning of every season :happy .
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by obgraham » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:52 pm

I've had the carb cleaned and serviced twice by folks who claimed "I understand those engines and can fix it". No change.

Now I just give it a jolt of ether starting fluid and it cranks right up. Cheaper than another service call.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by SC Hoosier » Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:03 pm

petrico wrote:
Bengineer wrote: I mostly bag my clippings & so haven't noticed it missing a strip. I'll try a test run with the mulching plug in tomorrow & report back.

Thanks! That would be great.

One of the comments in Consumer Reports said the the cut was velvety smooth in dense grass, but an un-cut strip is left in less dense areas.

--Peter


This could be due to wheels matting the grass down. I have had this happen when the grass is thin. It usually gets cut on the next pass when overlapped. Looks like a great mower and the dual blade system has been around a while, so it's been tested and survived. Some glowing reviews above.

I honestly don't see how a mower like this could leave a strip uncut with the blades spinning so fast. Maybe some have their blades installed incorrectly. I could see a larger mower with multiple blades skipping a strip, but not a push mower.

I mow with cheap mowers and they always work fine. Yard looks beautiful and I've trained those teenagers well. :D
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by jeff1949 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:37 pm

petrico wrote:
jeff1949 wrote:I just bought a Honda mower about 3 weeks ago and have had no such problems......very satisfied so far!

Here is the mower that I bought:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Honda-21-in- ... /203709643

Thanks. That's the same mower as the one I'm considering except yours is self-propelled. They should cut exactly the same.

Just out of curiosity, is your lawn very dense or not? (Mine has a variety of grasses and densities.)

--Peter


Our lawn has quite a bit of clover in it right now but I would say it is just moderately dense.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by jimb_fromATL » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:30 am

One of those complaints appears to be by someone who has gone senile. The only way it could have a 2" uncut strip on one side is because he's not running the blade over the uncut grass by 2 inches.

On lots of rotary walking mowers the blade overlaps the wheels on the enclosed left side, but not the right discharge side. If you're walking with the uncut grass to your left, The right wheels have to be running over grass that has already been cut. I suspect it's partly for safety that was not of much concern with early rotary mowers. He must have had an old mower that had the blade overlapping the path of the wheels on the right side too and simply hasn't realized that he can't run the right wheels in the uncut grass with the new mower and expect the blade to cut it all.

I've seen a number of "innovative" lawn mower ideas that haven't worked out in real life as well as expected compared to the simplicity of the normal rotary mower. I suspect the twin blade concept is one of them. As I've seen it described the upper blade cuts off the top of the grass blades, then then lower blade cuts it off shorter. The problem is that if a grass blade bends over, it won't be cut by the lower blade. The lower blade also has to be very, very sharp to cut off the short remaining ends of the grass blades, since there's less leverage. That would explain the complaints about some uncut grass blades left sticking up.

Plus, if the grass is wet, damp, or very long or very thick, it stands to reason that the cut grass can clog up between the two blades.

And don't forget that you have twice as many blades to keep sharp.

jimb

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by jkrm » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:22 am

Our Honda mower is probably about ten years old. Never have problems starting it, and no uncut grass strips. The only time I ever saw anything like what is described, it turned out that I had the wheel height set differently on the left and right sides of the mower.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by minesweep » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:07 am

obgraham wrote:Now getting the engine to start, that's a different matter.

I will assume that you tried installing a new spark plug.

Mike

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by minesweep » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:52 am

jeff1949 wrote:I just bought a Honda mower about 3 weeks ago and have had no such problems......very satisfied so far!

Here is the mower that I bought:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Honda-21-in- ... /203709643

That's the one I bought also (last fall) at Home Depot. It was rated a best buy in Consumer's Report. In fact, I believe four of the five top five models (including this one) were Honda mowers. Because I'm a veteran I got the 10% military discount on top of the $399 price tag. Not all Home Depots give the discount throughout the year. Although there are 3 times a year when all veterans can get the discount at Home Depot and Lowe's. They are Veteran’s Day, 4th of July, and Memorial Day. The discount is for all veterans who served honorably and who present a valid Form DD214 or other proof of service. Also, it may not be on all items. The riding mowers were not eligible for the discount. At least, not at the Home Depot I bought it at. Also, if you are currently serving in the military, a retired veteran, or a VA Recipient you can get the 10% discount any day of the year.

Home Depot & Lowe's military discount policy

P.S. I will be using my new mower for the first time today. My old 22 year Honda 19" push mower started on the first or second pull.

Mike

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Bufflehead » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:13 pm

I have the Honda Harmony model and this uncut strip occurs about 5 inches in from the left side of the mower. There is a large seam in the housing which collects wet or damp grass cuttings and exerts a downward force on the uncut grass before it reaches the cutting blades. The engine is OK in this model but the housing is poorly designed and collects this debris after every mowing session. It is very annoying as it sometimes begins after a very short time if the grass is not completely dry. I suggest another make/model if possible. I has a 20 year old junker mower which worked fine until it basically fell apart. I should have returned this mower at the very beginning. I can offer you a great deal on it if you like?

Bufflehead
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by jimb_fromATL » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:57 pm

Bufflehead wrote:I have the Honda Harmony model and this uncut strip occurs about 5 inches in from the left side of the mower. There is a large seam in the housing which collects wet or damp grass cuttings and exerts a downward force on the uncut grass before it reaches the cutting blades. The engine is OK in this model but the housing is poorly designed and collects this debris after every mowing session. It is very annoying as it sometimes begins after a very short time if the grass is not completely dry. I suggest another make/model if possible. I has a 20 year old junker mower which worked fine until it basically fell apart. I should have returned this mower at the very beginning. I can offer you a great deal on it if you like?

Bufflehead


Hmmm. Maybe I'm the one going senile. I interpreted the complaint to say that the strip was 2" in from the right wheels. But on rereading I see he's saying the strip is 2" wide, but he does not say it is at the edge of the housing. It looks like your analysis that it's a major design flaw is the issue. And it would make for a lot more walking.

It IS still a peeve of mine that the right side of the blade does not track with the wheels on a couple of newer walking mowers I've used in the last few years compared to my old walking mower. With the newer Toro and Husqvarna mowers that I use sometimes (when I'm not at home where I can use my Snapper high-vac riding mower) it's more guesswork at how much to overlap the already-cut area ... and thus some extra passes and more walking because of the overlap. That can amount to a lot more walking on a large lot.

jimb

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Higman » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:29 pm

I’ve used the HRX217HXA model for the past three years. The dual blade system is excellent for mulching. I’ve mowed up to 7 inch tall grass without any clumping. My grass is mostly tall fescue with some bluegrass. On occasion this mower does leave a 2 inch wide strip but only when I mow very damp grass that gets matted down by the wheels. I also mow at the maximum height setting – 4 inches. There isn’t enough suction power at that height to immediately lift the grass. But on my return path the grass has started to rise up and does get cut. I would definitely buy this mower again.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by dratkinson » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:20 pm

There was another topic about uncut grass strips, maybe last year.

2" is about the width of a wheel. I had a new B&D corded electric mulching mower that was so weak (suction) that it could not pick up the grass to cut if after the wheels ran over it knocking it down. Half hour after cutting the lawn, the grass would rise back up and I had stripes all over the lawn. Most annoying. Eventually fixed problem by buy a convertible mower and using it in broadcasting mode: plenty of suction from discharged air.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:05 pm

Bengineer wrote:Update: I put in the mulching plug & mowed a strip. All the grass was clipped off at the same height going forward & also backward for good measure. I note that the new ones have a "clip director" rather than a plug. I don't know how that might change the under-deck airflow dynamics when mulching, but I can't think it would be much.

Thanks Bengineer! When you mentioned a mulching "plug" I wondered if there was a difference. The clip director is like door that opens and closes, becoming flush with the side of the deck when closed.

However, in reading other comments it seems that moisture is a factor, and that the problem could be caused by clippings clogging the underside of the deck to the point where it flattens the uncut grass. Was the lawn dry or damp? Was the test run long enough to accumulate a wad of mulch?

Thanks again,
--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by rustymutt » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:19 pm

I've owned two over twenty years, and only had this issue when the blades got dull, or out of balance. Yes they will do this.
Get your blades sharpened twice a year,spring fall. Other than that, the mower didn't cut the grass as tall as I like it cut in the hot summer months, so I went with other brands a few years back.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:23 pm

Bufflehead wrote:I have the Honda Harmony model and this uncut strip occurs about 5 inches in from the left side of the mower. There is a large seam in the housing which collects wet or damp grass cuttings and exerts a downward force on the uncut grass before it reaches the cutting blades. The engine is OK in this model but the housing is poorly designed and collects this debris after every mowing session. It is very annoying as it sometimes begins after a very short time if the grass is not completely dry. I suggest another make/model if possible. I has a 20 year old junker mower which worked fine until it basically fell apart. I should have returned this mower at the very beginning. I can offer you a great deal on it if you like?

Bufflehead

Aha, the plot thickens. Thank you very much for the detailed account, Bufflehead. Your description sounds very plausible, and it's consistent with many other reviews that note a wet weather connection. Unfortunately, here in New England the grass clogs the underside of lawn mower decks most of the time. It's only in the fall, when I'm mulching as much dried leaves as green grass, that the deck stays clean. This will be a tough call on whether to risk this purchase.

Like you once had, I have a trusty old nondescript mower that I like. I've been extremely satisfied with my 1999 White (MTD) LawnCycler LC-436 mower, and got 15 great seasons out of it, but the wheels are very wobbly now (~$80 replacement cost) and the engine is getting worn and burning oil to the point where the fumes are unhealthy. It still cuts the lawn perfectly -- with the deck clogged with grass or not. I've only spent $35 in repairs since purchased new (for a new ignition). It still starts with one pull, from the first cut of the season to the last (unless it gets really cold). Too bad they don't make them anymore...

Image

Are there any other high quality, gas-powered push mowers currently available you would recommend instead?

Some of the features I value include:
- strong, durable engine
- durable, rigid deck and handle (several possible candidates lack these)
- excellent mulching performance
- strong vacuuming during bagging
- ball bearing wheels
- cutting height up to 4"
- throttle control (almost none have this now, and not a big deal)

Thanks,
--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Toons » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:48 pm

"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Bengineer » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:26 pm

petrico wrote:...However, in reading other comments it seems that moisture is a factor, and that the problem could be caused by clippings clogging the underside of the deck to the point where it flattens the uncut grass. Was the lawn dry or damp? Was the test run long enough to accumulate a wad of mulch?

Thanks again,
--Peter


Lawn was wet, probably mowed 20', so not enough to accumulate. It did leave a trail of clippings.

The plug is a plastic piece that goes in the rear discharge hole & is shaped to match the curve of the underside of the deck.

Side note: I'm a big fan of Honda engines. The consumer version on my (& the one you're looking at) mower is nowhere near the GX series on the commercial power equipment that all the lawn guys around me use, but is still light years better than the B&S & Tecumseh engines on the cheap mowers (which I owned for many years). Mine starts on the first or sometimes second pull every time, sips gas and runs like a top in comparison. It's a pleasure to operate. I bought it used on CL.

I'll note that the mowing height only goes to 3 1/4". I'd prefer a bit higher for fescue.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Bufflehead » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:36 am

Here is a link to the previous post about this topic:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=119775&newpost=1749952

I dug out my owners manual to confirm the model number-it is HRS216PDA Harmony II purchased in May, 2002. It is hard to believe I have been putting up with this for over 11 years.
Anyway, the seam in question is actually on the right hand side of the mower. I suspect Honda used to "sub-out" the manufacturing of the mower deck, but I am not sure. I also noticed the wheels on the mower are actually lined up outside of the cutting area which allows them to flatten the grass whether there is debris in the underdeck or not, something mentioned by a previous member of the board.

I am thinking about returning to a single blade mower purchased at a yard sale-I think the engine is not as important as the blade/deck design. I am not sure what Consumer Reports has to say about new mowers but I will post if I get a chance to find out.

Best,

Bufflehead
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by wilpat » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:30 am

rustymutt wrote:I've owned two over twenty years, and only had this issue when the blades got dull, or out of balance. Yes they will do this.
Get your blades sharpened twice a year,spring fall. Other than that, the mower didn't cut the grass as tall as I like it cut in the hot summer months, so I went with other brands a few years back.


I agree! Improperly sharpened (or NOT sharpened) blades is usually the cause of the uncut strip.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:07 pm

Bufflehead wrote:Here is a link to the previous post about this topic:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=119775&newpost=1749952

I dug out my owners manual to confirm the model number-it is HRS216PDA Harmony II purchased in May, 2002. It is hard to believe I have been putting up with this for over 11 years.
Anyway, the seam in question is actually on the right hand side of the mower. I suspect Honda used to "sub-out" the manufacturing of the mower deck, but I am not sure. I also noticed the wheels on the mower are actually lined up outside of the cutting area which allows them to flatten the grass whether there is debris in the underdeck or not, something mentioned by a previous member of the board.

I am thinking about returning to a single blade mower purchased at a yard sale-I think the engine is not as important as the blade/deck design. I am not sure what Consumer Reports has to say about new mowers but I will post if I get a chance to find out.

Best,

Bufflehead

Bufflehead,

Thanks for all the info. I looked up your model and found that the deck on your mower is somewhat different than the deck on the mower I'm looking into. Yours doesn't appear to have a rear bagging option, and the deck seems much flatter.

This is a picture of the underside of the HRR216PKA, taken from the owner's manual:

Image

However, that doesn't mean the rear-baggers don't have the same problem. On Consumer Reports, the following excerpts pertain to the latest model self-propelled version of the push mower I'm considering. Everything but the drive system is the same.

The mower would cut uneven and I would have to repeatedly go over what I just mowed. I preferred to mulch and the mulching portion would leave clumps, I tried it with the chute and had same results. We sharpened the blades after six cuts and still experienced same results.

It leaves a line of uncut grass on every pass.
We have sharpened the blades, raised & lowered the deck, walked slower, overlapped by a huge margin on each pass & nothing helps. Everything else about this mower I like but if it can't cut the grass it's not really a lawn mower!

Although the cut is velvety smooth, I have found that in some sections the mower will leave a line of uncut grass. This seems to happen in sections where the grass has not fully filled in. In sections where the grass is thick, the mower cuts all of it, but in other sections I do see a line of uncut grass, even after I have overlapped the path.


--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:23 pm

Bengineer wrote:
petrico wrote:...However, in reading other comments it seems that moisture is a factor, and that the problem could be caused by clippings clogging the underside of the deck to the point where it flattens the uncut grass. Was the lawn dry or damp? Was the test run long enough to accumulate a wad of mulch?

Thanks again,
--Peter


Lawn was wet, probably mowed 20', so not enough to accumulate. It did leave a trail of clippings.

The plug is a plastic piece that goes in the rear discharge hole & is shaped to match the curve of the underside of the deck.

Side note: I'm a big fan of Honda engines. The consumer version on my (& the one you're looking at) mower is nowhere near the GX series on the commercial power equipment that all the lawn guys around me use, but is still light years better than the B&S & Tecumseh engines on the cheap mowers (which I owned for many years). Mine starts on the first or sometimes second pull every time, sips gas and runs like a top in comparison. It's a pleasure to operate. I bought it used on CL.

I'll note that the mowing height only goes to 3 1/4". I'd prefer a bit higher for fescue.

Thanks, Bengineer.

There seems to be no clear consensus on this mower. A friend at work owns one bought about 5-7 years ago, and he's had no problems with his.

I contacted the local independent dealer today and asked if they've ever had any complaints about the cut. He sort of ended up saying no, not really, but it took him an awful long time to get there. It didn't inspire confidence. So I asked what the options would be if I bought it, took it home and the mower left an uncut strip. He said Honda accepts a return within 7 days of purchase.

So at this point, that seems like a pretty decent way to proceed: test the mower out at home and return it within one week if it doesn't cut well.

Thanks,
--Peter
"Discipline matters more than allocation.” ─William Bernstein

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Bengineer » Thu May 01, 2014 12:35 pm

petrico wrote:... This is a picture of the underside of the HRR216PKA, taken from the owner's manual:

Image

...


Only on BH can you get detailed pix of the underside of the deck of a mower! Here are a couple pics of the underside of my HRR216PDA, without the mulching plug:

Image

And with it:

Image

I'd be inclined to look at the underside of the mower with the "clip director" on bag & then on mulch. I also think I'd push the dealer to let me take a mower home & mow with it before buying.

Surely someone will now post a redux of their dissertation on the effects of mower under-deck turbulence on grass clipping patterns & blade length distributions. :mrgreen:

HTH!

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Sun May 04, 2014 12:59 am

Thanks Bengineer. What strikes me most about your mower deck is how clean it is! You definitely have different grass that I do. You're not in New England, I take it? After 20 minutes my mower was caked with mulch, with a big wad packed against the clip director. The picture in the following post was taken after the biggest accumulations were removed.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by iceport » Sun May 04, 2014 1:14 am

UPDATE: I bought the Honda HRR216PKA with a GCV160 OHC/OHV engine on Friday and mowed the lawn with it on Saturday. Yes, it did leave fuzzy, un-cut strips in some places -- but it's still got a lot going for it.

In general, this is a very high quality mower. It really is a pleasure to operate. Then there is the one serious, maddening flaw: poor under-deck aerodynamics compromises the cutting and mulching performance.

First, here are the great features:
  • smooth running, well designed engine with ample power and low emissions
  • rigid, durable steel deck
  • sturdy, ergonomically designed handle that provides efficient handling and pushing -- the mower is about the same weight as my old mower, but after an hour and a half of mowing it was obvious it takes less effort to push around. The handle easily adjusts and folds.
  • excellent grass mulching from the unique twin blade system
  • very manageable weight, especially considering what seems to be a very sturdy design
  • easy height adjustments at each individual wheel, adjusts up to 4"
Next, here are a couple trade-offs that I'd easily tolerate:
  • no throttle control
  • no manual choke, and not even a priming bulb, so I don't know how easily it will start under different conditions
Finally, there's the major flaw:
  • poor under-deck air flow causes a poor cut.
For one thing, leaves tend to get blown out from under the deck, instead of getting pulled in, recirculated many times and mulched. Where the old mower would have left most leaves thoroughly mulched up and invisible, this mower blew most of them out intact, leaving a mess.

And the poor suction doesn't provide enough lift to fine, soft grass for a smooth cut. Yes, this HRR216PKA left some intermittent un-cut strips. (They're hard to see in the photo.) I figured out the un-cut strips are in the wheel paths of adjacent passes, but it only happens on the right side of the mower. So every other pass tends to leave a strip. The mower creates just enough suction to lift the flattened grass, but not enough -- or not in time -- to be cut by the blades. This only became noticeable about half way through the front lawn in deep, thick first-growth grass. I think that's about the time a grapefruit sized wad of wet mulched grass must have formed in front of the "clip director," a hinged door to the discharge chute.

Image

Like the old mower, the Honda blade spins clockwise. Also like the old mower, the discharge chute and the deep chute pocket are at the right rear corner of the deck. But the left side of the old machine has the strongest vacuum, while the right side of the Honda has the strongest (though still weak) vacuum. This difference must have something to do with the deflector they put right in front of the discharge chute. They might be trying for some kind of Venturi effect, but it just doesn't work.

Image

The fact that so many different models have different deck contouring, including Bengineer's, tells me Honda's deck design is still a work in progress. They just haven't found the right one yet. (You'd think it would be easy to just copy the design of another manufacturer that works well.)

So now after trying the mower out on the lawn, with varied conditions (different grass heights and thickness, various amounts of twigs and leaves), I'm still wondering what to do. I'd say this mower has almost everything I was hoping for -- except for good vacuum and a nice cut. It's not all bad: the under-deck doesn't clog easily (it didn't clog much at all in the back yard), and even the areas with un-cut strips look pretty good from a short distance away. But the poor leaf mulching and somewhat shaggy lawn finish are big disappointments. I have until Friday to bring it back, no questions asked. Tough call...

--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by pennstater2005 » Sun May 04, 2014 6:18 am

Those uncut strips are not hard to see in your photo. Take it back. I have a $300 husqvarna push mower with a Honda motor that runs great and starts on the first pull every time. And it doesn't leave any uncut strips like that one. Keep looking. Unless the dealer has a quick fix for it.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by plannerman » Sun May 04, 2014 9:37 am

I have a variable-speed, self-propelled rear bagger model Honda and it exhibits all the major problems listed--leaves unmowen strips, hard to start (I also us starting fluid), etc.

I live in the mountains and my yard is very steep. Add to the pro list, that the variable speed drive works flawlessly. I couldn't mow my grass without it.

Add to the con list that the mower deck drags on any slight imperfection in the yard, scalping off the grass--even with the wheels set in the third notch up--fairly annoying. Also the fuel shutoff valve is almost impossible to turn off or on by hand--minor annoyance.

Lastly, when I bought the mower, it was apparently missing a locking pin and a minor part fell off. I asked to dealer to order me a replacement part and he told me to get it repaired under warranty I needed to bring it back in. This mower is very heavy, and now it was covered with grass, and I wasn't about to load it up and make a couple of trips back and fourth to get a part replaced i could replace in less than a minute. So I ordered and paid for the parts and fixed it myself. But as you can tell, to this day it has still left a bad taste in my mouth.

plannerman

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by Higman » Sun May 04, 2014 10:33 am

checkout : //www.hondapowerequipment.com/faq and look for the question "Does it matter which direction I mow?"

Basically Honda recommends mowing in a rectangular patter from the outside in. Furthermore they recommend going in a counterclockwise rotation if mulching and clockwise for bagging or read discharge. See diagram on their web site. Perhaps this will help correct the strips of uncut grass.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by iceport » Sun May 04, 2014 11:49 am

Higman wrote:checkout : //www.hondapowerequipment.com/faq and look for the question "Does it matter which direction I mow?"

Basically Honda recommends mowing in a rectangular patter from the outside in. Furthermore they recommend going in a counterclockwise rotation if mulching and clockwise for bagging or read discharge. See diagram on their web site. Perhaps this will help correct the strips of uncut grass.

Higman,

Thank you for this. I was beginning to wonder if extenuating circumstances produced the results I obtained -- grass too tall, too damp, etc.? I know I wasn't walking too fast, but the unevenness of the cut was fairly pronounced.

The recommendation you spotted only confirms that there is an issue with the lawn mower, not my lawn. Essentially, it's an admission of guilt: "We screwed up the deck design, but here, try this work-around to minimize the damage. As long as you've paid top-dollar for our lawn mower this tip is the least we could do!"

Image

So that solves two issues when mulching. First, mulch clumps tend to form on the left side of the Honda, so this pattern -- with an overlap of the prior pass -- helps pick them up and re-mulch. Second, the mower leaves grass flattened by the wheels bent -- unless a reverse overlap on the right fluffs the bent grass up again. So the recommendation helps prevent this -- it counts on leaving the bent grass bent.

Unfortunately, the recommendations from Dr. Keith J. Karnok, Professor of Agronomy at the University of Georgia, published by Honda in Mowing Tip #3 here: Lawn Care Tips, states the following:

If possible, try to change the mowing pattern at each mowing. In other words, try to alternate the direction of travel each time the grass is mowed. This helps to reduce compaction problems (traveling in the same path over and over) and also helps to keep the grass from leaning or growing in one direction.

I've followed this recommendation to alternate mowing patterns for over 15 years now, with excellent results. In countering this solid recommendation with their own, Honda is basically counting on keeping the grass leaning and growing in one direction to make up for shortcomings in their mower design!

The really frustrating part is that they've done just about everything else right!. (Now if only they could make it cut well...)

--Peter
"Discipline matters more than allocation.” ─William Bernstein

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by iceport » Sun May 04, 2014 11:59 am

pennstater2005 wrote:Those uncut strips are not hard to see in your photo. Take it back. I have a $300 husqvarna push mower with a Honda motor that runs great and starts on the first pull every time. And it doesn't leave any uncut strips like that one. Keep looking. Unless the dealer has a quick fix for it.

I might just do this (take it back).

I almost bought Husqvarna 7021P last year! Yes, that looks like a fine mower, too. The only thing that stopped me was the thinner gauge steel and design of the deck. I do a lot of mulching of sticks, and the bottom edge of the steel deck didn't incorporate a nice, strong channel (like the Honda does), or even a rolled-over edge for at least some extra strength. I thought it might dent and bend too easily. Have you had any such issue? Does it mulch and bag well?

Thanks,
--Peter
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by pennstater2005 » Sun May 04, 2014 12:29 pm

petrico wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:Those uncut strips are not hard to see in your photo. Take it back. I have a $300 husqvarna push mower with a Honda motor that runs great and starts on the first pull every time. And it doesn't leave any uncut strips like that one. Keep looking. Unless the dealer has a quick fix for it.

I might just do this (take it back).

I almost bought Husqvarna 7021P last year! Yes, that looks like a fine mower, too. The only thing that stopped me was the thinner gauge steel and design of the deck. I do a lot of mulching of sticks, and the bottom edge of the steel deck didn't incorporate a nice, strong channel (like the Honda does), or even a rolled-over edge for at least some extra strength. I thought it might dent and bend too easily. Have you had any such issue? Does it mulch and bag well?

Thanks,
--Peter


The 7021p is the model I purchased. I bought it through Lowes online as they didn't have it in the store. It's been a great mower after 3 years of use. I mulch everything, including some sticks, and haven't had any problems with the deck. Maintenance is easy as I replace the spark plug, air filter, change the oil, and sharpen the blades each year. I did buy a simple blade sharpening kit and balancing tool for about $8 from my local hardware store. Good investment as I didn't realize that unbalanced blades can damage a mower. I don't know if the Honda motor is the exact same one that is used on the actual Honda brand mowers, but either way it's been a fantastic mower so far. I stayed away from the self propelled because the possibility of the self propelled mechanism breaking scared me. It could be used I imagine if broken but would be much heavier to push. Good luck.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by Jack » Sun May 04, 2014 12:41 pm

petrico wrote:I've followed this recommendation to alternate mowing patterns for over 15 years now, with excellent results. In countering this solid recommendation with their own, Honda is basically counting on keeping the grass leaning and growing in one direction to make up for shortcomings in their mower design!

To reverse directions, start in the center and go clockwise with increasing radius. This keeps the longer grass on your left per Honda's recommendation.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by dratkinson » Sun May 04, 2014 1:24 pm

The purpose of a lawn mower is to cut grass. If your's doesn't, then take it back. No "buts".



On the other hand, beautiful green grass.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by epictetus » Sun May 04, 2014 1:44 pm

I vote for take it back.

way too expensive to have problems with what you want a mower for: to cut the grass well. If it doesn't do that well all the other features you like won't/don't matter.

And I am beyond impressed at how green and pretty your yard/lawn looks!
Focus on what you can control

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by pennstater2005 » Sun May 04, 2014 2:21 pm

petrico wrote:I thought it might dent and bend too easily. Have you had any such issue? Does it mulch and bag well?


I have about 15 trees on my property that drop lots of sticks. I pick up the big ones obviously, but I mulch anything that doesn't seem like it will destroy the mower blades or deck. I have not had any issues yet with the deck itself bending or denting from mowing over sticks. It does mulch well and I used the bag once which also performed well. The only downside to that was I have a big yard and every other strip of mowing I was stopping to empty the bag. I just mow with it set up high and let the clippings compost my yard.
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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by marc515 » Sun May 04, 2014 3:14 pm

I'm glad I saw this thread as I was looking at the Honda mowers, and will now have to reconsider.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave an Un-cut Grass Strip?

Post by Bengineer » Mon May 05, 2014 12:21 am

petrico wrote:Thanks Bengineer. What strikes me most about your mower deck is how clean it is! You definitely have different grass that I do. You're not in New England, I take it? After 20 minutes my mower was caked with mulch, with a big wad packed against the clip director. The picture in the following post was taken after the biggest accumulations were removed.


Gah! What a mess! I get in there with a scrub brush & some Q-tips and clean mine up after I mow... :D

Seriously, I'm in the west, low humidity. I mow midday when the grass is dry, though it wasn't all that dry when I ran the test & got the pix.

I know my *PDA works great when bagging. After all the discussion, it seems like there are likely better options if mulching is the primary use.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by Oilburner » Mon May 05, 2014 12:28 pm

I think Honda push mowers are great and I've no complaints. My experience is that my now 79 year old mother has a Honda mower that is at least 14 years old and it has the same twin blade pictured on the mower in OP's link. I used her mower regularly each summer to mow her half-acre yard several times each year and never noticed uncut grass strips. It cuts the deepest of grass too and without stalling. This is a self-propelled model (so maybe it is a "walk-behind" mower and not a "push" mower") and I never used the bag. Perhaps some people's issues are when the bag fills and they continue to mow.

Sharpening the blade will cost more, since you have in essence, two blades to sharpen. Also, if you use the bag, the mower gets really heavy when the bag is near-to-full and you would probably want the self-propelled feature. It is very hard to get it moving otherwise. Her mower is pretty heavy and the self-propelled feature is needed, in my opinion. The push mower should be a little lighter, but at 75 pounds (listed weight in OP's link), that is about what hers weighs. And her mower has had a lot of abuse, hitting maple roots and big sticks, both with the wheels and blade and for no more than a couple of blade replacements, air filters, spark plugs and a yearly oil change (all done by me, so it is cheap to maintain), nothing else was ever done, nor does the mower have any current problems and is still nice and tight.

The other option is a $200 el-cheapo and for my yard I have one (a Murray) and it is pushing 14 years (was about $120 when new). And it gets the same abuse as the Honda and mine probably has a few years of life left in it. It's wheels have gotten really loose and sloppy over the years, though.

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Post by Oilburner » Mon May 05, 2014 12:36 pm

Duplicate Post
Last edited by Oilburner on Mon May 05, 2014 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do Honda Mowers Leave Un-cut Grass Strips? [YES, but...]

Post by Oilburner » Mon May 05, 2014 12:38 pm

plannerman wrote:I have a variable-speed, self-propelled rear bagger model Honda and it exhibits all the major problems listed--leaves unmowen strips, hard to start (I also us starting fluid), etc.

I live in the mountains and my yard is very steep. Add to the pro list, that the variable speed drive works flawlessly. I couldn't mow my grass without it.

Add to the con list that the mower deck drags on any slight imperfection in the yard, scalping off the grass--even with the wheels set in the third notch up--fairly annoying. Also the fuel shutoff valve is almost impossible to turn off or on by hand--minor annoyance.

Lastly, when I bought the mower, it was apparently missing a locking pin and a minor part fell off. I asked to dealer to order me a replacement part and he told me to get it repaired under warranty I needed to bring it back in. This mower is very heavy, and now it was covered with grass, and I wasn't about to load it up and make a couple of trips back and fourth to get a part replaced i could replace in less than a minute. So I ordered and paid for the parts and fixed it myself. But as you can tell, to this day it has still left a bad taste in my mouth.

plannerman
The Honda my mother has (I just posted my experience about it) is also a variable-speed walk-behind self propelled mower and I have experienced none of these issues. Starts on the first pull when choked. I wonder if Honda quality has declined over the years. Hers is at least 14 years old and I believe she bought it through a dealer and not at one of the big box stores. I also wonder if tightening emissions regulations have caused small engine manufacturers to lean out the fuel mixture to the point of where starting the engine is a real problem. This has happened with 2-stroke motors. But these are 4-stroke.

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