Posted by: tinyhondas | July 20, 2010

Quiet Here

Sorry I haven’t posted much in the last few months.

There hasn’t been much movement on the tiny Honda front.

The mower still runs, but poorly. I suspect the piston rings are worn. I haven’t even used it (been using the Briggs&Stratton mower instead).

And now there’s a new toy in the garage to play with. ūüôā

Posted by: tinyhondas | November 7, 2009

All Back Together Again

I stayed up late last night putting the HR214 back together again. Knowing that the carburetor actually works, I set out to modify the air filter housing.

Air Filter - Before

Air Filter - Before

Because of the spacers between the carburetor and the engine block, the prongs that hold the carb and are capped by the air filter housing are not long enough to actually be bolted down.

So, I had to trim down the plastic a bit to accommodate the spacers on the other side of the carburetor.

After a bit of sawing and smoothing (and cutting through the metal linings of the holes) the air filter now fits better on the engine. Yay!

A couple of other things happened last night. I re-routed the fuel lines through a fuel cut-off switch (also from the GCV160) that I attached to the bottom of the air filter housing.

Air Flter - After

Air Flter - After

I also re-attached the blade to the bottom of the mower. I had taken it off with the intent of completely cleaning out the clutch mechanism. I’m re-evaluating that plan as I would actually like to mow the lawn this afternoon. There are two bolts that hold the blade in place and I think I may have stripped one of them slightly — I was tightening it and it suddenly seemed a fair bit looser again. I decided not to torque it any further out of fear of further damage. Or, because of the goofy two-piece design of the blade attachment, it was just snugging up against the clutch. Either way, I’ll keep a close eye on it.

I also removed a couple of the old (peeling) decals, and reattached a plastic cover that protects the self-propelled drive system.

I’ve been contemplating repainting the mower — something of a darker silver for the deck and a darker red for the engine hood. I think I’ll undertake that later — for now, I’m happy to have (what appears to be) a working mower.

Posted by: tinyhondas | November 5, 2009

So Many Reasons Why This Shouldn’t Have Worked

I had a bit of time this morning to tinker with the GXV-120, and not to bury the lead, it works with the GCV-160’s carburetor.

Honda HR214

It dawned on me yesterday that the modifications needed to the air filter housing to get it to fit on the carburetor are pretty significant, and I don’t really want to undertake such a destructive change without some assurance that it is really necessary. For all I know, I could cut into the air filter housing, find out that the transplanted carb doesn’t work afterall and then I’d end up buying a replacement carb that now has a mangled air filter housing.

So early this morning, I bolted down the carburetor without the air filter, figuring that if it worked at all, a few minutes with unfiltered air would be OK.

I reattached the engine cover and attached the fuel line. The first couple of pulls of the cord resulted in nothing other than a bit of sputtering. But after about 10 pulls going back and forth with the choke open and closed, the engine roared to life spewing forth a thick cloud of white smoke.

Carburetor on the GXV120

There’s no telling how long it had been since the engine last ran, but all the white smoke makes me think oil had seeped into the cylinder. That usually indicates the engine has sat unused for a while (if the piston rings are doing their job, that is).

After a minute or so, the exhaust cleared up (though I had to open the garage door and the garage still smells like burned rubber).

The only issue, really, was an occasional sputter from the engine. rrrrrrrrrdrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrdrrrrrrrrrdrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I’m hoping that’s because either the spark plug is going bad, the carburetor needs adjusting, or it’s still burning off gunk that has built up in the cylinder. I’m just giddy that the carburetor works! The second picture in this post (on the left) shows all the spacers between the carburetor and the engine block — that alone should have been reason enough for this to fail.

Oh, and my apologies go out to my neighbors for waking them up at 6 a.m. to the sound of running engine.

Posted by: tinyhondas | November 4, 2009


So, I had some time to work on the new (old) mower last night.

First, I cleaned it a bit. The grime that had built up on the cylinder housing could not have been good for heat dispersal. So now, it’s mostly clean.

Then I slid on the new (transplant) carburetor and noticed the first problem. The prongs that hold the carburetor on the engine are a bit wider for the last quarter-inch against the block. So the carb didn’t slide all the way down.

I started filling the gap with some of the spacers and gaskets from both engines and noticed the second problem: The width of the prongs is actually a fraction of a millimeter narrower than what the carburetor wants. Grrrrr.

After a bit of persuasion and machining, all the spacers and gaskets are now stacked up and the carburetor fits.

I hope (with extra emphasis on HOPE) that when it’s all tightened down, it’ll actually seal up nicely and not have any air leaks (I know — it’s a bit of a hack — don’t shoot me).

I slid the air filter housing on and noticed the third problem: With all the spacers and gaskets to get the carburetor to sit on the engine, the prongs that hold it all are not long enough to actually connect the final air filter attachment. Doh! I’ll have to fix that by cutting a bit off the air filter attachment. It shouldn’t be a problem, but it will require a hack saw as there are metal linings inside the screw holes. I didn’t want to deal with that last night.

I did, however, re-work the control wires to the carburetor. Since it’s a different type of carb, the wire from the governor arm didn’t link up exactly (until I bent it into submission). And the wire from the choke arm was missing and has now been replaced with a small piece of a wire hanger.

Sorry… no pictures… I was running a bit behind this morning and had to get to work… maybe later.


Posted by: tinyhondas | November 3, 2009

A New Engine (And A Crazy (Possible) Fix)!

Honda HR214

What’s this? A new lawnmower in the garage?

Yes! And this one is ALL Honda — not just a coveted Honda engine sitting on top of some crappy deck built by some third-rate manufacturer.

It’s a Honda HR214 SX(A), so it has the bagger, the pull-start and the self-propelled mechanism. It also has an all-aluminum (cast aluminum?) deck which makes it a heavy beast of a thing.

Powering this puppy is the 4-horsepower GXV-120 engine.

One thing it doesn’t have is a carburetor. Oh, there’s that.

Honda HR214I knew about this going into it. The ad on Craigslist mentioned that the carburetor was missing. Look closely at the picture above and you’ll see two metal prongs reaching out from the engine — that’s where the carburetor is supposed to go. There’s also an air filter attachment — I have the plastic pieces for it, but there’s no sense in having them on without the carb.

Turns out, the fellow who had the mower before me really just needed the carburetor. So he took that and gave away the rest of the mower. He said the guy who owned the mower before him complained of decreasing power, but he felt it was really more a matter of the original owner wanting a new mower (these things don’t die, of course, because they’re Hondas).

What else is wrong with this mower? Well, one of the bars for the handle is broken (and cleverly patched with duct tape). And one of the tires is a bit mangled. And it’s dirty.

GCV160 CarburetorBut the carburetor — that’s a bigger deal.

Now, as you’ll recall, I have another mower engine (the GCV-160) that has a bent crankshaft. I could swap crankshafts, but I highly doubt they’re interchangeable. More likely is that I can take the carburetor off the GCV-160 and transplant it onto the GXV-120.

I pondered this for nearly a week (since I was tied up with other things and didn’t have time to tinker with engines). There are any number of reasons why this won’t work — the bolt holes might not be the right distance, or the right size. The 160’s carburetor is likely bigger and won’t fit. The linkages to control the carburetor are not likely to be in the same place. Etc.

HR214 3So this morning, I finally went to the garage and gingerly removed the carburetor from the 160 while the old oil drained out of the 120. And gosh darn-it to heck, the carburetor slid onto the metal rods as if it were designed for the 120! I was astonished at how perfectly it fit.

Granted, it’s at a bit of an angle — the rods on the 160 are pretty much horizontal, while the rods on the 120 are at an angle to the ground. But it’s not that severe (c’mon — it’s not like it’s at a 90-degree angle, or even upside down).

I haven’t permanently affixed the carburetor to the mower yet — I want to clean the block and some other parts before putting everything on.

Then I’ll get to figure out ways to attach the control arms, and attach the fuel cut-off from the 160 (apparently, the 120s have the fuel cut-off switch right on the carburetor).

I didn’t have time for any of that fun stuff this morning as I had to go to work. But that’s OK — I might get to it possibly tonight or tomorrow night.

Posted by: tinyhondas | November 3, 2009


Honda GCV160

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something, but there have been a few developments in the garage. Not to bury the lead, the GCV-160 on the Yardman mower is not going to work after all. Here’s what happened:

I got the mower put back together, fixed the things that needed fixing, cleaned out the carburetor and it started just fine. Yay!

But it was loud. Exceedingly loud. Like, cover-your-ears-so-you-don’t-break-your-eardrums loud.

I managed to mow the lawn twice with it over the course of the summer (I was a bit busy rebuilding the patio and sidewalk) before the mower died.

And it died because the crankshaft is bent.¬† I noticed this previously and hoped it wouldn’t be a big deal (other than a little noise).¬† However, the excessive vibration caused by the bent crankshaft is very likely what caused the broken deck, and the broken pieces under the mower.

Could I replace the crankshaft?¬† I suppose so.¬† But that would require completely tearing apart the engine and putting it back together again (correct) — something I’ve never attempted.¬† Instead, I think I will turn this one into some interesting art/photography project.

I have since taken the engine off the deck and gave away the deck (along with other mower decks and and scrap metal). So the engine is in the garage, ready for it’s next life. And it turns out I may have something for it, which I will explain in the next post.

Posted by: tinyhondas | June 5, 2009

Getting Ready

The garage has been a flurry of activity for the last couple of days (when I’m home in the evenings) as I’ve been busy cleaning and restoring the Yard-Man mower to get ready for its crown jewel, the GCV160 Honda engine.

All Painted


On Tuesday night, I completely removed everything from the mower’s deck.¬† That left me with a hull that was still crusted with grime, scratched up and wearing dull green paint.


On Wednesday, I spent a bit of time cleaning out the insides, removing all the underside build-up, and some of the rust.  Then came the paint!

Since I knew I needed at least two cans of paint anyway (one for the underside, and one for the top), I figured I would go with a two-tone look.  The top is gray metalic (the hammered texture) and the underside is metallic blue.

Then I took the blue and applied it to the very front of the mower, too — just to give it a bit of visual appeal.¬† I was seriously considering flames coming off the front, but decided that would be a bit much.

Frankly, I’m¬†not sold on the blue nose.¬† It’s unique, but it also begs the question “Why?” (and this is one case where, perhaps, “why not?” is not a sufficient answer).¬† We’ll see — I can always repaint over it.

Taking A BathMeantime, there are a couple of plastic pieces that attach to the underside of the mower.  As they are under the mower, they, too, were crusted in old dirt and grass clipings.

So I filled a small tub with soap and water and sent the pieces swimming.  They soaked for a long time (in fact, one of the pieces is still in the water).  The silly little yellow hubcaps are also getting cleaned before they get a nice layer of black spray paint.


So Thursday night was the big day to start putting everything back together.  My goal was to get at least half of the components back on the deck.  Here are a couple of shots of the progress:

Underside 1

Underside 3

Underside 2

You’ll notice that I haven’t repainted the mechanical parts of the mower.¬† I did clean them, but didn’t bother with much rust removal or repainting.¬† Afterall, these aren’t Honda parts.¬† Now, when I get a full-fledged Honda mower, expect a major restoration.

Again, my goal was to get a good portion of the parts back on the mower.¬† However, it went quite well, actually (I only appear to have misplaced one screw), so the deck is pretty much rebuilt.¬† The only things remaining are the parts that actually attach the engine — I’m still waiting for the replacement bracket to come in the mail (though I may reinstall the old (broken) one in the meantime, just to get the engine on).

Here’s the reassembled deck (the blue nose doesn’t look to bad now — if you have any thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments):


I did manage to scratch the paint a bit in the reassembly process — bummer (the scratches aren’t really visible in this picture, though you doo see some marks that are actually light reflections from the lights in the garage).

I’m trying to not worry about the scratches.¬† This is a lawn mower, afterall — it’s meant to banged around a bit.

For the fun of it, I placed the motor on top of the deck, just to see how it looks (don’t worry — it’s not bolted down yet):

Engine Resting On Top

Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Posted by: tinyhondas | June 3, 2009

Oh, the mess.

I had some time last night to tear into the new (old) lawnmower, and discovered that I’ll have my work cut out for me.¬† I’ll warn you now – most of this post is about the Yard-Man deck and mower components.¬† Unfortunately, the true glory, the Honda engine, is not featured prominently in today’s post.

Yard-Man Lawnmower with Honda GCV160 Engine

Yard-Man Lawnmower with Honda GCV160 Engine

To start, I figured the Honda engine deserves to have a nice mower on which it can proudly ride.  Since the deck and components are all by Yard-Man, I wanted to spruce it up a bit (like, a new coat of paint to cover the hideous green, and doing something about those aweful yellow hubcaps).  Of course, that would mean disassembling much of the mower, which I did last night.

Full disclosure: I’m taking a leap of faith here that I’ll get the engine to run properly, something of¬†which I’m not entirely convinced.¬† Cleaning out a carburetor is one thing, but there’s something amiss with the coil starter on this, not to mention any unforeseen engine problems that may come up when I get to the¬†motor this weekend.

The first thing, naturally, was to remove the spark plug.¬† Done. ¬†Then, off came the blade (I think I’ll get a new one as this one is hopelessly dull, rusted¬†and chipped).

Then I noticed the first major problem.¬† This Yard-Man has a¬†confounding clever¬†self-propulsion system that uses a large metal arm to control the speed (I’m not entirely certain how it works, frankly).¬† Anyway, the arm is held in place by a metal bracket.

Under The Mower

Under The Mower

One side of the bracket is fine, but the other side of the bracket broke off at some point leaving the arm there to dangle precariously.  In the picture on the right, you can see the bracket near the bottom of the triangular arm.  The bar at the bottom of the arm is supposed to slide into the bracket.  Notice how the right-hand side of the bracket has a little wing to hold the arm.  The wing on the left-hand side is gone.

I can only imagine the racket this thing must have made when it last ran.  My biggest fear is that this mess may have bent the crankshaft.  In any regard, a new bracket is now on order from Yard-Man.

The two bolts holding the bracket screw directly into the engine block (plus, there’s a third bolt across from the bracket).¬† Taking off the bolts and removing the engine revealed the second major problem:

Broken Bolt Holes In Mower's Deck

Broken Bolt Holes In Mower's Deck

Notice anything unusual about the picture on the left?  Take a look at the bolt holes that are supposed to hold the engine.  Anything missing? Like some of the metal???

I’m not entirely sure what the solution here is.¬† A new deck lists for $140 on Yard-Man’s Web site, and there’s no way I’m paying that much for some non-Honda junk equipment.

I could try using some washers to add a bit of stability.¬† However, I’m not sure I’ll find the right sizes needed, or if they would even suffice.

I’m leaning toward scrapping the deck of an old mower that’s just sitting in the garage (the engine’s already pulled off, and I’m planning to give the old mower parts away on Craigslist as scrap metal anyway).¬† I could use pieces of the engine mount from the other deck to build up the material here.¬† With a bit of epoxy and some tight bolts, I could have something semi-stable.

There is also, what appears to be, a fourth bolt hole in the engine block.  If another bolt is available, I could drill a hole in the existing deck for added stability.

I’ll worry about the bolt holes tonight.¬† The rest of my evening last night was consumed in removing all the components from the deck.

To Yard-Man’s credit, this does look like a pretty impressive machine — for example the mechanism for raising and lowering the deck (or the wheels, depending on your perspective) is a pretty elegant one-lever design that looks like it came off a tank.¬† And the wheels are far from the flimsy plastic disks seen on most mowers.

So that’s where the mower stands today: in many pieces in the garage.¬† Tonight, I’m planning to clean the deck, likely repair it, and repaint it.¬† Then, tomorrow and Friday¬†will be the reassembly (God, I hope I saved all the screws!).

Then, on Saturday, my friend’s two sons will come over to help fix the engine.¬† That’ll be interesting as it may hold mysteries beyond the coil starter.

In the meantime, here are a couple more pictures of the new mower (before it was disassembled):




Posted by: tinyhondas | June 2, 2009

At Long Last: A Lawnmower!

Indeed, after searching the free listings on Craigslist for more than a year, a lawnmower with a tiny Honda engine is now parked snuggly in the garage.¬† Technically it’s a YardMan/MTD mower with the 5.5 hp¬†Honda GCV160 engine on it.¬† But it’s self-propelled and has a bag, so it could become my daily mower if I can get it running properly.

I don’t have too many specifics as I picked it up late last night and had to run off to work this morning.¬† I do know that the coil starter doesn’t recoil, and it’s likely been sitting outside for a while given the rust on the exhaust pipe and the leaves and debris that have piled up on the deck.

I suspect that someone (at some point) may have even removed the engine from the deck as it’s a bit loose.¬† I think I want to repaint the deck anyway (it’s tacky YardMan green right now) so I’ll tighten it when everything gets put back together again.

A friend of mine is coming over with her two young sons over the weekend — I’ll use their free labor interest in learning to help them better appreciate the power of internal combustion.

Pictures are coming soon…

Posted by: tinyhondas | March 26, 2008

Couldn’t Stand It Anymore…

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I pulled the GX150 engine out of the little HS35 snowblower a while back (this was about a month or two ago).¬† Since then it has been sitting on the floor of the garage, gathering sawdust.

I’ve been meaning to build a little stand for it out of wood, but haven’t had the time, or the wood, or the energy (World Of Warcraft has sucked up what little time I’ve had).¬† I’ve also been itching to play with the engines (since the snow is starting to melt and the temperatures are starting to go up).¬† Finally, last night, I couldn’t take it anymore and I built a stand by cutting up a few spare 2x4s:

GX150 On Engine Stand 1

The GX150 was particularly tricky to put on a stand because it has an external fuel tank that needs to be mounted above the carburetor.¬† I should install the fuel cut-off switch still, but I’ll do that later.

At least the little engine isn’t laying clumsily on the floor anymore.

Here’s another shot from a different angle:

GX150 On Engine Stand 2

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