Technology: Honda’s Advantage in the Small Engine Market

honda small engines

Why are Honda engines so popular in professional and high-end consumer outdoor equipment? Since its inception, Honda has been first and foremost an engine company. From aircraft to motorcycles, their engine technology has led the way with innovations like their legendary V-TEC valve control system and top-mounted jet engines. Small engines receive the same treatment with Honda consistently introducing new technologies to the market, making their offerings the most reliable, easiest to use engines on the market. Here are just a few of the features that make them so popular.

Mini 4 Stroke

Lawn professionals have a love/hate relationship with two stroke engines: on one hand, they deliver a lot of power for their size and don’t have any oil inside that can leak into the combustion chamber, making them ideal for handheld equipment. On the other hand, they’re difficult to start, use a lot of fuel, need their fuel mixed with oil, and are extremely sensitive to stale gas. It’s also looking like the two stroke’s days are numbered due to their high exhaust emissions: it’s hard to argue for this design’s future when workers who clean up roadsides get far more exposure to pollutants from their chainsaws and string trimmers than the thousands of vehicles that pass them by during each shift.

To address these problems, Honda designed an oiling system works at any angle, allowing them to build a small four stroke engine that can be turned and tosses around just like a two stroke. Along with other improvements including an efficient overhead cam head design, their line of Mini 4 Stroke motors are able to deliver near-two stroke power without all the two stroke’s disadvantages. They aren’t just better for the environment and easier to use, their low fuel and oil consumption means operating costs are half that of comparable two strokes.

Oil Alert – GX, iGX, V-Twin

Air cooled engines depend on oil for both lubrication and cooling, which means it doesn’t take long for a lack of oil to cause serious damage. Honda’s Oil Alert system links the ignition system to a sensor in the sump, shutting off the engine if the oil level is too low and preserving the engine.

Integrated ECU – iGX

The iGX has an ECU that controls the throttle, choke and ignition timing. These functions can be controlled using “drive-by-wire” systems, eliminating mechanical cabling that can rust. This allows engine settings to be programmed to fit the equipment’s needs, while the governor can adjust automatically to current conditions to maintain power. This reduces maintenance while making the engine easier to use, so it’s a perfect fit for rental equipment.

Variable Timing Ignition – GX, iGX, V-Twin

Timing on most small engines is controlled by the movement of the flywheel past the ignition coil, but with this technology, timing can be adjusted to fit current conditions and engine speed. That means easier start-up, increased fuel efficiency and more peak power.

Integrated Cylinder and Head – V-Twin

Since the cylinder and head are cast as a single unit, there’s no head gasket or bolts to fail, and there’s better heat transfer between these two sections of the engine, increasing reliability, particularly in harsh environments.

Lifetime Belt-Driven Overhead Cam – GC, GS, Mini 4 Stroke

Cam chains are noisy and heavy, while belts can stretch and break. By moving the belt inside the engine where it can be lubricated, Honda engineers have been able to make a belt drive system that will last the life of the engine, combining the advantages of chain and belt drives.

Automatic Mechanical Decompression – All Engines

On most engines, when you pull on the starter handle, you have to get the engine to spin past the compression stroke to start it. Honda uses a mechanical system on their motors that keeps the exhaust valve from closing completely, letting the air inside the motor pass through freely instead of being compressed. Once the engine is running, the system disengages and the cam acts normally, sealing the chamber for maximum power. Since this system is used on all of Honda’s modern engines, electric start versions need less battery power and can use smaller, lighter starter motors.

Easy Access to Parts

Honda has the technology to make small engines reliable and easy to use, while www.hondalawnparts.com makes it easy to get the parts you need to keep them running. Our search engine doesn’t just find parts, it shows you Honda’s own parts diagrams and lists factory descriptions so you can identify exactly what you need. No matter where you live in the U.S. or Canada, we can ship those parts to your door.

Troubleshooting Your Honda’s Ignition System

Honda Engine

Is your Honda engine not wanting to start? Is it running rough, despite everything being fine with the fuel system and air filter? It may be having an issue with the ignition system. Here’s what you need to know to troubleshoot common electrical problems on these motors.

Before You Begin

If the engine has been running, it needs to be left to cool for at least a half hour before working on it to prevent burns.

To access the flywheel on some models, the engine shroud/starter cover needs to be removed. On GCV models, this shroud is connected to the fuel tank. If the engine has a fuel valve, turn it off before unbolting the tank, and make sure the tank is tilted over a container to catch any fuel that leaks out.

Honda Oil Alert and Kill Switches

Most recent engines come equipped with Honda’s Oil Alert system, which shuts down the engine if the oil in the crankcase is too low, preventing internal damage. This system works by wiring a float into the ignition system: if the float is too low, the ignition circuit is cut, which prevents the spark plug from firing. Generators and engines with a built-in console will have a light that indicates whether or not the system has been activated. For other engines, the only way to see if the system may have tripped is to check the oil level.

Most engines also come equipped with kill switches that will cut power to the ignition system. This switch will be located on the engine, but it may be operated from a remote location, such as a bail on a lawn mower handle. Both the kill switch and the Oil Alert float connect to a single wire on the side of the coil. If this wire is damaged or becomes disconnected, the spark plug won’t fire. If the kill switch is damaged, it will need to be replaced. There should be two wires next to the switch that can be disconnected by pulling them apart, as well as a grounding tab located on the back of the switch that should be bent back. On most models, the starter cover will need to be removed to access the tab.

Power Generation and Ignition

In a car, the power generation system is contained in the alternator, but in a small engine, the generator components are separated and mounted on and around the flywheel. When the engine is running, magnets on the flywheel pass by a coil, creating electricity. This electricity is stored in the coil until it is needed.

Modern Honda engines use a solid state ignition system that uses a transistor to control when the electricity is sent through the spark plug wire. The coil, transistor, rectifier and spark plug wire are built as one unit. Once the piston is in the right position, the electricity in the coil is released, creating an arc of electricity across the electrodes of the spark plug, igniting the fuel.

If the flywheel is damaged or the key that keeps the flywheel in position on the crankshaft has fallen out or sheered off, the timing will be off. If the insulator inside the coil has worn out or the insulator over the spark plug wire is damaged, there won’t be enough electricity making it to the plug to ignite the fuel.

When replacing the coil, there needs to be a small gap between it and the flywheel. The easiest way to set this gap is to place a business card between the flywheel and the coil, then tighten down the bolts enough to keep the coil in position. A feeler gauge can be used to set the correct gap, specified in the repair manual, before fully tightening the bolts.

Spark Plug

For most engines, Honda recommends replacing the spark plug at least yearly, while each model has recommendations based on operating hours. A worn electrode will have too wide of a gap to get a good arc, while a damaged insulator could be shorting out the spark plug, transferring power to the engine instead of out through the electrodes.

Where to Get Parts to Fix Your Honda

If it’s Honda, you can get it from www.hondalawnparts.com. We’re a certified Honda Small Engine dealer, and our massive parts warehouse means we have most parts ready to ship across the U.S. and Canada so you can get your equipment back to work quickly.

Leaf Blowing Tips

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAFall leaves are beautiful when they’re still on trees, but they become a major nuisance and a threat to your lawn when they start falling. A leaf blower can make leaf removal fast and easy, but only if you know the right techniques. These tips will help you get the most out of your equipment whether you have a Honda-powered backpack or walk-behind blower, an older Honda-built blower or a blower attachment for your VersAttach multitool.

Be Sensible About Safety and Considerate to Your Neighbors

A blower works by moving air so fast that it can push heavy, loose materials. That means lots of noise and dust that requires eye and ear protection. It’s also a good idea to stay well away from gravel driveways and to wait a while before blowing over areas that have recently been covered in fertilizer, pesticides or other chemicals.

Speaking of dust and loudness, you should probably limit blowing to times when everyone is awake and no one is out playing in the yard or having a barbecue.

Work with the Weather

Working on a wind-free day will keep the leaves you just moved from blowing away, but if you must work when it’s windy, plan accordingly by working toward the wind direction instead of against it.

Wet leaves are far heavier than dry leaves and tend to clump together, making them even harder to move. Unless absolutely necessary, only blow leaves when they’re dry.

Plan Where You Want the Leaves to Land

Place a tarp in an area that is easy to reach both for the blower and their final destination, whether they’ll be loaded into bags or onto a trailer. Once everything is in place, start working from the outer edges of the property toward this tarp.

Live at the edge of a forest? While it may seem like a good idea to simply blow the leaves into the woods, tall piles of leaves can collect moisture that will promote rot, hurting and even killing the trees. This is especially true in areas with acidic soil including the East, Southeast and Pacific Northwest where the decomposing leaves can push the pH to plant-damaging levels.

Use the Right Angle

Pointing the tip down will concentrate the jet of air into a small spot, which is ideal for pulling up matted leaves and mulch. However, this also pushes the leaves higher into the air where they can be caught by the wind, blowing them where you don’t want them, and it will lift more dust off of the soil.

Using the tip at a shallow angle will move the leaves forward instead of up, making them easier to maneuver and collect into a pile. Skimming the surface will also keep dust from being blown up.

Don’t Expect Perfection

A leaf blower can remove 99.5% of the leaves from your lawn with ease, but there will always be a handful of leaves that will stick tenaciously to the grass. Unless you have a section that has clumped together, it’s better to leave them alone. With the vast majority of leaves removed, you’ve accomplished the three main reasons for moving leaves: maintaining drainage, exposing the grass and preventing an increase in surface soil acidity.

Use the Blower for More than Leaves

A blower works great for moving light snowfall and water off of driveways and pushing away cobwebs that gather on the corners of buildings.

Keep Your Blower Working

When you need parts for Honda blowers or engines, visit www.hondalawnparts.com. We’re a certified Honda Small Engine Equipment dealer, which means we carry everything for their motors and equipment. Our site has factory diagrams built in to help you find the part you’re looking for, and we can ship it to you whether you live in the U.S. or Canada.

Tips for Tilling

Tips for Tilling Honda Tiller

Breaking ground is the first step to building a garden, whether you’re planting vegetables or decorative plants. These tips will help you get the most out of your Honda tiller and your new planting project this season.

When to Till

You may want to break ground as soon as possible to start planting, but there are a few conditions that should be met to get the most out of tilling:

The ground should be at least moderately dry. Wet, muddy ground will compact from the weight of the tiller, making it hard for roots to penetrate. Pick up a handful of soil and squeeze: if the soil falls apart, it’s dry enough. If it forms a ball, it’s too wet.

The ground should be warm. The soil temperature should be at least 60 degrees F (15 degrees C.) If you don’t have a thermometer, push your hand into the soil. If you can keep it there for a full minute, the soil is warm enough.

Wind should be at a minimum so that the newly broken soil won’t blow away.

It needs to be late in the evening. While tilling can kill off existing weeds, dormant plants can start growing once they’re exposed to sunlight. Tilling just before the sun goes down will keep these weeds from getting the sun they need to restart growth.

Applying Fertilizer and Nutrients

If you’re going to use fertilizer, till the soil to break it up, then till again once the fertilizer has been spread to help mix it in.

Adding nutrients to correct soil deficiencies can adversely affect new roots. Ideally, these additives should be applied in the fall after harvest season, tilling the soil to integrate them.

Setting the Depth Bar

The bar holds the tiller back, helping it dig into the soil instead of just rolling over the surface. Setting the bar lower will help the tiller go deeper and reduces ground speed, helping the tines go through hard soil. Ideally, the tiller should be tilted slightly rearward while in operation. The bar should be adjusted so that the blades consistently reach a depth of 5 inches for leafy vegetables and flowers, and around 8 inches for root vegetables.

Setting the Throttle

In most cases, you’ll want to use your tiller at full throttle. However, this can be a bit much when going through soft soil, causing the tines to throw out chunks of unbroken soil instead of chopping it up. Lower the throttle accordingly until you get the right soil consistency.

Using the Handlebars to Control Depth and Speed

While it may seem like a good idea to go over ground that wasn’t correctly tilled, cutting through the soil a second time can actually compact it, making it harder for plants to grow. Getting a good cut through the soil the first time is critical.

If the tiller is moving too fast, push down on the handlebars. The depth bar will dig into the soil and help keep the tiller in place so the tines can dig deeper. Once the tiller is cutting at the desired depth, let up on the handlebars to start moving forward again.

If the tiller stops moving forward, lessen the pressure on the handlebars and move them side to side until the tines get traction again. If the tiller still doesn’t want to move, raise the depth bar.

Keeping Your Tiller in Top Condition

When you need parts for your Honda tiller, visit www.hondalawnparts.com. We’re a certified Honda Small Engine Equipment dealer, which means we can provide you with everything you need for maintenance and repairs. Finding parts is easy thanks to our advanced search engine that has built-in factory diagrams and descriptions. We can ship your order to any address in the U.S. and Canada.

Honda GS Engine Overview

honda gs engineThe horizontal shaft Honda GS can be found in a wide range of residential lawn and garden equipment as well as commercial equipment that puts a premium on low weight. No matter what your GS engine is powering, there are a few things you should know about it to get the most out of your motor.

Controls

Honda makes three versions of these engines, each with their own unique control setup. The controls can be found just to the right of the fuel tank, although some equipment may use remote levers for these functions. All model have a metal loop handle to control the choke: pulling it out closes the choke. Next to the choke, you’ll see one of three controls:

A gray manual throttle lever – Moving the lever up opens the throttle, increasing engine speed.
A red ignition switch lever – Moving the lever up will enable the ignition. Pushing it down will stop the engine.
An engine stop switch – Turning it to the right enables the ignition. Turning it to the left will stop the engine.

Engine Oil

Some versions of the GS come with Honda’s Oil Alert system. It uses a float inside the crankcase to detect low oil levels. If the level is too low, it will shut off the engine to prevent damage. If the engine stops suddenly without any clear external cause, check to make sure the oil level is correct.

The oil drain bolt is located on the bottom edge of the engine, directly below the muffler. The dipstick is part of the cap on the filler neck, located to the right of the drain plug. To check the oil level, the dipstick must be inserted into the filler neck without screwing it down. Honda recommends using 5W30 or 10W30 oil for most operating temperatures, or SAE 30 for temperatures above 50 degrees F (10 degrees C.) When changing the oil, the fresh oil should come up to the top of the filler neck. It should take about 20 ounces (0.58 liters) of oil to fill the crankcase.

Engine oil should be changed after the first month or 5 hours of use, then every 6 months or 50 hours thereafter. If the engine is used under heavy load or high temperatures, change the oil every 25 hours.

Air Cleaner

The air cleaner box, located above the fuel tank, can be opened by pressing in two tabs on the side of the cover. Below this, there’s a foam filter, a plastic grid, and a paper filter. Wash the foam element in a mild detergent or clean it with a nonflammable solvent, then soak it in clean motor oil once it has dried. Squeeze out any excess oil before installing. Remove dirt from the paper element by tapping it against a hard surface. The air filter should be replaced every two years or 200 hours of operation.

Spark Plug

The spark plug should be gapped between 0.028-0.030 inches (0.70-0.80 mm.) It should be checked every 6 months or 50 hours of operation and replaced every two years or 200 hours of operation.

Spark Arrester

The arrester is a metal sleeve that fits inside the exit of the muffler and can be added to any GS series motor to meet local safety requirements. To access it for cleaning, take off the muffler protector by removing three bolts around the outside edges. The arrester itself can be removed by removing a single screw. Use a wire brush to remove any deposits, and replace the arrester if it shows signs of damage.

Fuel

The fuel tank is designed to hold fuel up to the bottom of the filler neck. This engine is designed to run on gasoline with no more than 10% ethanol (E10.) A stabilizer should be used if the fuel will be stored more than 30 days, and even stabilized fuel should be replaced after 90 days.

If you need to drain the fuel system for storage or to remove stale fuel, use the drain on the carburetor, located directly below the air filter. It has a place to attach a hose which can be inserted into a fuel tank to capture the exiting fuel. Use a flathead screwdriver to open the valve directly above the drain to let the fuel flow out. If you’re storing the engine, start the motor and let it run until it dies to ensure the fuel system is completely empty.

High Altitude Use

Honda recommends having the carburetor jets changed if you use your GS motor at altitudes above 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) to better match fuel delivery with the available air. If you have an engine with an automatic throttle, the throttle mechanism may need to be adjusted if the motor doesn’t want to slow down once the load has been removed, or it takes a while to return to speed once the load has been reapplied.

Getting Parts for Your Honda GS Engine

www.hondalawnparts.com is a certified Honda Engines dealer offering everything you need to maintain and repair your GS Series motor. Our site has factory exploded parts diagrams built in to help you find the parts you want to order, and we can ship those parts across the U.S. and Canada.

Honda GX Engine

GX100_imgmedChances are if you own any commercial-grade small engine equipment, you have at least one Honda GX Series engine. Available in horizontal and vertical shaft versions and displacements ranging from 98 to 389 cc, this series of motors can be found in just about any type of small engine equipment you can think of. Here’s what you need to know about this motor’s quirks, from starting to troubleshooting.

Controls

There are many variations on these models and individual pieces of equipment may leave controls on the engine or move them to a remote control center, typically on the device’s handle.

The main controls are located on the carburetor, which will be directly below the air cleaner housing. Some models will have a throttle lever at the very top, almost against the air cleaner housing. Next, on the carburetor body itself, there will be a choke lever. Below that, some models have a fuel valve.

For starting, the throttle should be set to 1/3 of the way from “Slow.” On models with the lever on the engine, move the lever left to open the throttle. The choke should be closed unless the engine is already warm, and the fuel valve should be open.

On electric start models, the engine is started by turning the key or switch to “Start.” After 5 seconds, if the engine hasn’t started, release the switch and wait 10 seconds to let the starter motor cool before trying again. If the engine won’t start, set the switch to “On” and use the recoil starter.

Checking the Oil and the Oil Alert System

The dipstick is built into the oil filler cap. To check the oil level correctly, the dipstick needs to be wiped off and then inserted into the engine without threading it back into the filler neck. When adding oil, the oil level should come to the edge of the filler neck.

Some models are equipped with Honda’s Oil Alert system. This will automatically shut off the engine if the oil level gets too low. If your motor stops abruptly, check the oil level to make sure this wasn’t the cause. On electric start models, there should be a light on the starter panel indicating the oil alert system has been triggered.

On motors with a reduction gear, the gear is in a separate case with its own oil supply. It has its own filler cap/dipstick and uses the same oil as the engine. The case should only be about half full of oil, which will be well below the top of the filler neck.

Spark Arrester

No matter the model, the muffler on your engine is designed to be used with a spark arrester where required by law. The arrester can be accessed by removing the muffler shield. The arrester itself will be held in the muffler by one screw. To clean the arrester, scrub off any deposits with a wire brush. If it has any splits or holes, it should be replaced.

Air Cleaner

There can be up to three types of air filters inside the air cleaner that need occasional cleaning:

Paper elements can be cleaned by knocking them against a hard surface to loosen dirt.
Foam elements should be washed with a mild detergent or non-flammable solvent. Once dry, dip the filter in clean motor oil and squeeze out any excess liquid.
Cyclones should be disassembled and wiped clean. Any dust inside the cleaner housing should also be wiped out before reassembly.

Propane (LPG) Powered Engines

If you have an LPG-powered version of the GX270 or GX390, there are a couple differences in operation.

Since LPG is a gas, there won’t be any visual signs of leaks. Instead, smell the area around the engine. If you detect any trace of LPG, have the fuel system repaired before starting the motor.

The choke lever increases vacuum to help pull gas into the combustion chamber. Once the engine is running, the engine will provide the necessary vacuum, and the choke can be opened. There’s no need to wait for the engine to warm up.

Use only SAE 30 weight oil designed for use with LPG engines, or a synthetic 5W-30 oil if using the engine below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C.) A mineral-based multi-weight oil may be fine in other GX motors, but it will damage your LPG model.

Getting Parts for Your GX Series Engineering

No matter what your Honda engine is connected to, you can get parts for it at www.hondalawnparts.com. We’re a certified dealer, covering both small engines and Honda power equipment including generators, water pumps, and mowers. Our advanced search engine can show you factory parts diagrams so you can see exactly what you’re ordering. We ship to both the U.S. and Canada.

Honda HHT Trimmers: A Step by Step Guide to Fuel System Maintenance

Honda hht trimmerHonda trimmers are designed to go the distance, lasting many years, as long as they’re properly maintained. For the HHT trimmer, fuel system maintenance is a key way to ensure that the equipment is operating efficiently and safely over the long-term. Varying maintenance requirements and routines are needed throughout the year, based on temperature, season, and frequency of use. Here’s what equipment owners need to know to get the job done and keep their trimmer in great shape.
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10 Tips for Keeping Your Lawn Well-Watered This Summer

When it comes to watering your lawn, many people are unaware that there are certain techniques and times of day that can help improve your lawn’s uptake of moisture and reduce your water bills. Over watering, under watering and not allowing water to reach the roots of your lawn can all cause more harm than help. Here are ten tips for improving your watering routine this summer:

1. Give It Time – As the weather heats up, many people run outside to get a jump on watering. This actually keeps your lawn from building a strong root network. Instead, wait for the grass to darken and show visible signs of distress before you add water. This forces the roots to grow deeper in the early spring months which makes the lawn more resilient long term.
2. Water Less Frequently - Similar to the reasons above, spacing out your watering days more allows your lawn to make better use of its roots. If you water too close together the ground will begin to get soggy and roots will recede or rot away. Water thoroughly and then give your lawn several days to absorb the water and put it to use before you water again.
3. Water Deeply – Your lawn needs water to reach the roots. If water sits on top of the blades of grass but never gets to the soil your grass will be subject to a number of foliage based diseases. Consider drip irrigation or a soaker hose to put water close to the roots.
4. Water Early – Watering during the middle of the day causes heat to be magnified on your grass from the sun. Watering late at night encourages fungal growth during the cool hours. Instead, water early in the day so that the dew on the blades of grass can evaporate before the sun reaches its peak but the water has time to seep down into the soil.
5. Don’t Over Do It – Overwatering costs a lot of money, but it also causes your soil to erode and increases the risk of diseases. Use a rain gauge to measure how much water is falling on your lawn and cut it off once you have reached 2-3″ of waterfall uniformly across your lawn.
6. Fertilize – Fertilization helps provide adequate nutrients that your native soil may be lacking. Using a spreader from your local landscaping shop you can evenly distribute fertilizer across your lawn. Do not water after you have fertilized as this will wash the nutrients away and into the storm drains.
7. Aerate – Aeration is another key way to improve your watering capabilities. By creating pockets in the soil, water and fertilizer are able to reach roots more directly. A powered aerator can be used on the lawn one to two times each season for best results.
8. Watch the Weather – Pay attention to when rain is expected and don’t water in advance. After the rain comes, wait several days to let your lawn dry out a bit before you resume your watering schedule.
9. Mow Frequently – The goal is to help water reach the roots of your lawn. If you are leaving your lawn to grow longer so that you don’t have to cut it as frequently, you may be preventing water from reaching the roots at all. This will work against you instead of for you.
10. Know Your Grass Type – Not all grass is created equal. Some types of grass need less water than others, and some combinations of grass support one another by taking advantage of changing water conditions. Learn about the grass in your lawn and determine the best watering pattern for you. For more information about keeping your lawn in top shape this summer, visit hondalawnparts.com. They have a full selection of Honda OEM replacement parts and accessories necessary for keeping your equipment running smoothly for a grass lawn.

How to Safely Operate a Honda HHT25S Trimmer

Honda HHT35SThe HHT25S can be fitted with a trimmer head to make quick work of weeds or a blade for cutting down saplings and thick brush. All that power also means this trimmer can cause serious injury from flying debris and blade thrust, but these dangers can be minimized by using this equipment correctly. Continue reading