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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have an 11 year old Honda push mower; it is an HRX217TDA (self-propelled double blade mulcher). I'm in MN if that matters,

For about 8 years it started first pull every time. I loved it (compared to the rarely-starting lawnmowers I used when I was a kid). I looked down on my neighbors struggling to start their mowers.

Then a few summers ago it started taking 2-3 pulls, then the following year 8-10 pulls, and now I pull it 20-25 times before it finally starts. It has never NOT started within 5 minutes. And once it starts, it runs perfectly smoothly.

For a while I was convinced that if I pushed the throttle ALL the way forward (while pulling the starter) then it would start better, but I never proved that. I didn't see any mechanical change from all the way forward and ALL the way forward.

When my pulls fail, usually nothing happens (ie, it just turns over), a few times there has been popping noise (like a backfire), and once or twice I thought it was starting but it died in about 1 second before it really caught. [Right after those almost-starts it was back to just turning over - it's not like it was warmed up and then started the next pull].

I have changed the spark plug, dipped the spark plug in gas, cleaned the ignition coil, re-spaced the magnets from the ignition coil. I've added carb cleaner to the fuel, cleaned the air filter.

At this point I am thinking I need to check the flywheel key. Is this logical based on the description above: eventually starts, runs fine, progressively worse each summer? I don't exactly understand why the 20th pull is different than the 1st.

I did hit a screwdriver a few years ago (sheared key?), but I don't have good recollection of when that was relative to the troubles.

I am attaching a photo zoomed on my mower flywheel. I don't know if you can tell if the key is sheared or missing from this photo, but maybe. Is there any test I can perform ("If X rotates relative to Y, your key is sheared")?



Sorry if any of my terminology isn't accurate. I'm not an engine guy, clearly.
 

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you should pull of the carburetor to clean it, i doubt the key is your problem if you hit something but for 20 bucks you can get an oem carburetor so i would just do that
 

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If the key was broken, your arm would be, too, and it never would have started. As mentioned, change carburetor. Use an additive with the gas in the future, too. Good luck!
 

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Here's my guess at what the problem is.

Take a look down on the left side of the engine where the throttle cable attaches to the thing Honda calls a control. As you move the throttle all the way, you should feel a little "stop". As you move the throttle ALL the way past that stop to the choke setting, you should see a bit of an angular tab on the control engaging another lever and pushing that lever upwards. That' makes your choke close. If it isn't doing that, you will probably have to pull a bunch 'o times to get the engine in the mood to run.

There is a clamp holding the cable to the control. You may have to adjust the position of the cable in that clamp. After 11 years, the cable may have stretched or moved in the clamp.

Take a look at page 2 diagram 1 or 6. Yours should look something like those. You should see the throttle lever moving when you move the lever on the handle.

http://cdn.powerequipment.honda.com/engines/pdf/manuals/00X31Z8B0240.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow, you guys are quick!!

I'll check the carb (and clean/replace it) as well as the control/cable mechanism.
 

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Check that cable first. Removing and replacing the carb can be a pretty fiddly operation and will include having to adjust the cable I mentioned in the process too. Save yourself the cost and trouble if all it needs is a bit of tweaking of the throttle cable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Well, bwdbrn1, you nailed it. It was actually a two fold problem. I think the cable was a little slack, and the vertical lever that moves the choke plate also has an "arm" that moves with it, and that arm was bumping into something so that choke plate was not closing all the way. Don't I feel stupid that I didn't investigate this simple issue deeper three years ago.

I bent the arm a little so it had clearance, and I moved the cable back about 1/16" in the clamp. Started first pull.

Unfortunately I got so excited about the $20 OEM carb and the 20 minute install that I actually did that first. Rather than rue the $20, I'll chalk it up to a better running engine for the next 11 years.

I'm attaching pictures to illustrate the expected motion (yellow arrows) and the arm (blue arrow) just in case anyone is curious, or in case anyone else has this problem.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's also comforting that my gut feel a couple years ago when I thought pushing the throttle further helped was not totally crazy. But I must have stretched things out doing that, and eventually even that no longer helped. That's why I thought maybe it was all in my mind. :)
 
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