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White Smoke on Honda HR214 SX mower with GXV120 engine


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08-20-08, 06:39 AM   #1  
White Smoke on Honda HR214 SX mower with GXV120 engine

I recently found the mower for a bargain price but it has issues that I would appreciate some guidance on fixing / trouble shooting.

One problem is the mower smokes white when running.

What might I try to fix the smoking engine? White plumes of smoke for half a minute or so and then itís a more or less constant stream of white smoke at high or low idle. When the mowerís blade is engaged the smoke goes away, best I can tell. I have changed the oil, cleaned the spark plug, tried spraying carb cleaner in the carburetor while revving the engine, cleaned out the not very dirty float bowl. What other nonintrusive methods can I try before tearing into the engine to look at rings/cylinder/valves, etcÖ.

History: I bought the mower used from the original owner and he bought it 15+years ago. Based on the appearance of the mower I would say it was not maintained. Dirty engine oil, caked up dirt/oil on the outside of the engine body, pine needles embedded in tight nooks and crannies on the topside of the mower, intake after air filter had a layer of dust/dirt, pull chord did not retract fully, loose nuts / bolts on handle bars. The blade clutch works great and engine runs strong regardless of the smoke.


Honda HR214-GH SX with GXV 120 engine.

Sicker on the aluminum deck: 6151881
Engine Block: GXV120-1704333
Carburetor part number: 03AJKHL
http://hayward.arinet.com/scripts/Em...d&Partner=HYWD

I think this is it?

http://www.planopower.com/store/honda/hr214sxa.shtml

As a side note: I have another mower with a Honda GCV-160 engine and the two engines seem to run at different RPMís, does this sound correct? The 120 engine is faster than the 160 engine. I might just be my imagination. What might I need to check the RPMís

 
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08-20-08, 07:27 AM   #2  
White smoke with a slightly bluish tint, generally indicates that you are burning some oil. These older Honda's did tend you smoke some when first started and then stop, this was generally due to wear in the valve train.

Constant smoking can be caused by a dirty or bad oil breather, or from wear in the cylinder and rings. A leak down test could help to verify wear in the cylinder, or if your feeling frisky, you may want to tear down and examine.

 
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08-20-08, 08:26 PM   #3  
Where is the breather filter? Thought I found it on the parts break down from PlanoPower.com but maybe not.

I pulled off the top works of the mower to get to the main body. Then removed a small cover plate concealing a small compartment with a flatend out semi coarse wire mesh and a cirular disc (simple check valve). Nothing to note in this area othen then some oily dirty walls, enough to get your finger tip dirty when you touch it.

Could you explain a little more about the breather filter? Function, size, location... Many thanks.

 
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08-21-08, 06:50 AM   #4  
Anybody have experience with oil additives to fix a smoking engine problem?

I recently hear of a RESTORE to fix smoking engines. I've read online some pros/cons of this stuff so I understand some of the issues.

I'm starting to take on the stands of the mower I have has a couple of problems that might become uneconomical (time and money) not to repair and may part out the mower.

But before I do that I might try this RESTORE in the oil just to give it a try for myself. Sort of a fun experiment on a motor that might be dissected anyway.

 
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08-21-08, 08:08 PM   #5  
I don't have any experience with that particular product. I do recall a service update from Briggs where they cautioned against using an oil treatment like STP. As I recall there was some issue with the product designed for a water cooled engine that would solidify at the higher temps of an air cooled engine, I can't really remember what they said would happen, just that they advised against using it.

The oil breather is just a valve that vents pressure from the crankcase to help maintain a vacuum in the crankcase while the engine is running. Worn rings will cause excess pressure in the case that will be vented through the oil breather, and positive pressure in the case will result in extra oil consumption

 
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08-21-08, 09:59 PM   #6  
Using additives, especially thick ones like restore, will be almost certain death of the engine. There is no "mechanic in a can".

Like 30yearTech mentioned, air cooled engines run at higher temps and cause additives to react differently. Water cooled engines run 200-220 degrees, while air cooled engines can regularly exceed 300 degrees. This is one reason multi-weight oil is not even ideal for most air cooled engines, since the high temps can even break down the viscosity index improvers used in them.


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08-22-08, 09:20 AM   #7  
Cheese and 30yearTech,

Once again, thanks for the reply.

Thanks for the explanation on the oil breather, it makes sense now. I believe I found the right part on the mower. Doesnít seem to be a problem best I can tell.

As for the oil additive I appreciate the comments and warnings. I understand all too well the function of temperature on materials. Engine design is new to me so now Iím looking at this old lawn mower as an opportunity to experiment and learn from it. Iím part tinkerer part scientist.

Iím considering adding some of this RESTORE to the oil and see what it does. It if works then great, weíve all learned something. If it doesnít then weíve still learned something. Iíd rather experiment on a $20 smoking mower with a single cylinder then someoneís car engine. Just my preference.
Whatever happens Iíll share the results.

 
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08-22-08, 05:00 PM   #8  
Keep in mind the ratio of additive to oil. Look at the amount in the container and what it's supposed to be added to and adjust your amount accordingly. Your honda should hold about 16 oz of oil when it's full.

Good Luck...

 
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08-22-08, 08:45 PM   #9  
Thanks for the tip. I got the can for a 4 cylinder engine and divided by 4. The per cylinder or per quart oil ratio came out to about the same number. Approx 2.5ish oz of RESTORE for a single cylinder (about .75-1 qt oil) engine. I sucked out 2.5 oz motor oil and added 2.5-3.0 oz RESTORE. This stuff is a bit thicker then motor oil. I used a turkey baster as my instrument of choice.

Then started up the engine at high idle and made a video of it. Maybe I'll get around to posting them somewhere in the future for fun. It smoked a far amount for the first 1-2 minutes. Then I walked away from it and periodically checking on it. It continued to smoke (constant/erratically) for at least 30 minutes. Every now and then I would engage the blade and move the mower to try and slosh the oil aroundÖ At about 45 min I didnít see anymore white smoke. I let it run for another 45 minutes and the smoke was once again constant and erratic. So much for quick gratificationÖ

I did check the compression of the engine before and after and I recorded a slight improvement. 120psi pre and 130psi post. Maybe someone knows how that compares to other mower engines??? For fun I checked it against my other new/used 10yr old Lawn Boy (model 10323 Ė Duraforce 6.5hp) and got 110psi. My Lawn Boy does burn alot of oil too...

 
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08-24-08, 07:57 AM   #10  
Here is what Iíve done thus far when experimenting with RESTORE oil additive (contains CSL Ė Copper Silver Lead particles held in suspension) to a smoking Honda lawn mower. Iím not promoting this stuff, just a fun experiment. In my opinion the smoking is lessoning but obviously still there. Adding additives is probably at best a temporary fix; I think the idea of There Is No Mechanic In A Can is still a very true statement.

GXV 120 engine 15+ years of uses.

Day 1:
Compression 120psi
Run temperature (outside body) approx 220F on a sunny / cloudy average day at 90F.
Run for 1.5hrs
Compression 130psi

Day 2:
Run for 2.25 hrs
Compression 130psi
Run for 2.25 hrs more
Add oil and a bit more RESTORE
Run for 3.5 hrs

Day 3:
Start up, video, and then add a bit more oil and RESTORE
Still running after about 9.5 hrs (I say 7 hr in the video, oops)Ö.

The mower has been in high idle with or with out the blade engaged. Mower smokes more with no blade engaged.

See some videos here:

http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=ahenchmen

 
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08-24-08, 09:23 AM   #11  
Interesting video's. It looks to me that the most of the smoke may be coming from worn valve guides. The compression readings you are getting are pretty good.

 
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08-24-08, 09:32 AM   #12  
Thank for the reply. It's been a fun little project so far.

For fun I also checked the compression on a 2 year old GCV-160 that runs great and got a compression of 90psi.

The other day while looking for the oil breather I also took off the cover plate for the valves (stamped OHV) and noticed some clean oil at the bottom of the housing. Would this also match up with your comment about the valve guides?

If these components were to be replaced what would be required? Is it easier to get to the valve guides vs the piston rings? Less engine break down needed? Any special tools required other then what's in a typical tool box?

What leads you to suspecting the valve guides?

 
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08-24-08, 09:42 AM   #13  
Since you have more smoke on start up, then when running, It could be burning oil that has seeped around the valve guides when you shut the engine down.

You would need to pull the head from the engine to replace the valve guides, but you would most likely also need to replace the valves, as wear will occur on both the guides and valve stems. This model does not have valve guide seals.

 
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08-24-08, 10:36 AM   #14  
So to top it off I ran the mower for another 2.5 hrs with no detrimental effect noticed in function. Not to say that RESTORE hasn't caused some other unknown or long term issues.

12 hours total run time over 3 days with RESTORE. Some improvements noted but not what I was wishfully thinking.

So some possible costs for worn valve guides / valve replacement:

Guide, Valve, OS
Guide, Ex. Valve, OS
GXV120 Head Gasket
Head Cover Gasket
Intake Valve
Exhaust Valve

with $10 shipping the total comes to $75

On top of this there may be components that missed plus others worn out parts in the engine that are unknown. Also I still have a transmission cable ($20) and an undiagnosed transmission issue.

I'm afraid it's more then what I want to spend on a spare project mower. But I sure have had some fun troubleshooting with the experts online.

I think this mower has had a good life and I plan to break it down for parts so other similar mowers can keep going.

Now I'll get to see the internal components and what 15+ years of wear and tear looks like. I'll for sure check the guides and valves for wear as well as any noticeable wear or build up on the piston rings or other parts.

If any body has any other fun things to try or look at before tear down let me know and I'll see if can give it a try.

Thanks for the help.

 
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08-24-08, 07:06 PM   #15  
Just a few other follow up comments.

I let the engine cool for about 6 hrs and then started it up and it smoked. Better but still a fair amount. After running it for 2 minutes or so it was still lightly smoking. Then I checked the compression and got 135-140psi.

Just to let all know I also used Seafoam fuel additive to help clean out the fuel system. I don't think it changed the end results, just thowing that in as a full disclosure.

 
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08-25-08, 07:03 AM   #16  
You can add that additive to the oil as well. Read the label. Since it is a lawnmower, and not a more expensive car, you could try, and not be out a lot if you made the problem worse, let's say, since you have a bad problem going the way it is.

 
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08-25-08, 11:35 AM   #17  
The higher reading on the compression, and the reduced smoke are both due to the restore, However, once you drain the restore and refill with clean oil, it will smoke as id did prior to the restore. The restore is very thick, therefore it doesn't get past the rings and seals as easily as regular oil. The smoke is from burning oil that leaks into the cylinder. Thicker oil won't leak as fast into the cylinder, so less smoking. The thicker oil also takes up more space, which seals the rings better, giving a higher compression reading. Hondas commonly have good compression readings with worn oil rings and smoke for years like that. I'd say you probably have a worn oil ring just from many years of experience with hondas and re-ringing them.

With only 2.5 oz of restore in the engine, it won't degrade as rapidly and gum up the works. Not to say it wouldn't eventually, but it will take some time, especially in a honda. I think hondas run a little cooler with the larger plastic fan and shroud design and exhaust shielding. They are also built better so they can withstand more stress before giving up than a cheap engine.


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08-25-08, 02:46 PM   #18  
Good thread. I have the same mower with the same issue. It seems to get worse the longer it sits between use so the seepage diagnosis makes perfect sense.

I bought the mower new in 1983 for over $500. It seemed like a lot of money back then but it proved to be well worth it.

 
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08-25-08, 07:13 PM   #19  
So to anyone...

What signs might I look for when disassembling the engine that would point towards an oil leak? Specifically the pistons rings (oil rings), valve stems and guides? What amount of gap might one measure between a cylinder and rings for wear and tear? .001", more, less?? Can a simple feeler gauge (spark plug gapping gauge) work?

For the piston rings I can only imagine that I'll see either scratches/scaring/gouges from possible debris or a discoloration/haze/lighting difference for a normal/high wear pattern. I rarely get a chance to look inside an engine so I don't know what's "normal". My back ground is oil industry related where I deal with static and dynamic metal to metal or elastomer seals. Got any good web pages or references for the beginner??

I believe it's likely that once the RESTORE is changed out with the next oil change, the mower would start smoking again (unless added again). I think the bottle even said to use for each oil change. One thing that caught my attention with this RESTORE stuff was that is supposedly has Copper Lead Silver particles in the oil which can be used as a lubricant. Iím curious if I might find some deposits in the cylinder walls when I eventually get some time to do a good tear down and inspection.

Anybody have experience with using soft metal particles as a lubricant in an engine?

As for using Seafoam in the engine oil, I hadnít considered that. I havenít looked it up but I think Seafoam is a detergent??? If this is the case I could have a Seafoam vs RESTORE war in the engine. I think I'll stick with one variable for now. Maybe for the next mower experiment???

I agree that a Honda engine/mower is superior to many residential mowers (donít know anything about commercial mowers). Iíve got one great example right now. Plus the fact that other mower manufactures are using Honda engines on their higher end mower says a lot in my mind.

 
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08-26-08, 12:18 AM   #20  
The rign end gap is what you measure with the ring installed in the cylinder squarely at different depths in the cylinder. I can't recall for honda specifically off the top of my head, but usually if there is more than .030" to .040", the gap is too large, and the rings are worn out. The scraping part of the rings that contact the cylinder wall should be a thin edge, not a wide flat spot. Oil can seep past the rings into the cylinder when it is sitting unused. Not that oil can't leak past valve guides, but I haven't seen that to be a problem on a honda before. The bottom of the piston and rings are lower than the guides, and exposed to the crankcase oil, so this is where the seepage would be most likely IMO.

Every smoking honda I have fixed was cured with new rings. Usually the cylinder, piston, and other parts are in good enough shape to re-use. Old hondas take a re-ring job very well and can run for another 15 years or more on new rings without trouble. Hone the cylinder properly, replace the crankcase gasket and lower crankshaft seal and stagger the ring end gaps and it should be set.


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07-16-09, 11:45 PM   #21  
smoking Hondas

Cheese : When you say you re-ringed the Air cooled Hondas can I assume you do not bore to the next oversize piston, and just run a ball hone in the cylinder with new rings? Piston has slight scuffing, cylinder walls are pretty clean, burns oil. Thanks.

 
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07-17-09, 07:21 PM   #22  
No, I've never ad one with a bad enough cylinder that it needed to be bored. Usually there isn't even a ridge to speak of. If your cylinder is good, and the piston is good, hone it to a nice crosshatch pattern and re-ring it. It should do fine.


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