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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
What is your experience regarding any walk-behind lawn mower equipped with the BBC (blade brake clutch), which allows the engine to stay running when the blade stops? I do know that they are expensive and require professional maintenance.

Some mowers with this device that were built before July 1982 had a conventional clutch lever (similar to that on a riding mower/tractor) instead of a bail-type handle, which meant the blade was engaged as long as the lever was in that position; with the bail, the blade only spins until you let go of it (the bail), ensuring safety against whirling blades.

~Ben
 

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I have not had the pleasure to own one of the BBC equipped mowers. All of mine now are pre 1983 since I sold my 1996 Lawnboy to my DIL. From what I have read there are some definite tricks to keeping these working as they should without spending a fortune. All of my mowers with the exception of one are push type so minimal weight is of importance to me as I am getting up there in age. Not sure how much weight the BBC adds but if I were to have a post compliance mower again I would stay away from the BBC for weight and repair reasons alone. I'm sure when they work correctly they are great so don't get me wrong. Just my personal preference. Can't beat an old 70's push Lawnboy for simplicity and light weight. Bill
 

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I've owned 3. A John Deere 14sb, a Honda HRX217HXA, and my current Honda HRC216HXA. No special maintenance, but the friction plates wear out, like a clutch on a car. The John Deere required replacement of the entire Assembly. The Hondas just require the friction plate at about $80 plus your labor.

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I have had several Toros and 2 Deeres. I like the Toro design. It's fairly reliable. I have had several mowers that were 25 years in service with the original components. They were worn, but functional. They have a belt that locks a crank mounted flywheel to a drum to engage the blade. They all rob some power and add weight. The Deere clutch is expensive and hard to replace.
 

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I work on all the major brands, daily. The Toro belt driven system is the most bulletproof. Occasionally I'll get a Honda that's chucked one of the friction shoes, but that's pretty rare.
 

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I love my old Honda HR214 but it is pretty much used up. I do want to find another mower with BBC, I don't mind the extra weight with the power drive and appreciate the convenience. When I got it the previous owner complained it was hard to pull and he was unwilling to put any money into it. The BBC was clogged with grass, obviously maintenance was not a priority with him. I have had no issues since.
 

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Years ago,I had a small (like 16") ancient push mower with a Power Products 2 cycle engine,that had the engine mounting pad plate shaped like an upside down oval pan,which had 4 slots made into it, where bolts with springs & washers held that pad to the deck...

Behind the "sliding" engine mounting pad,there was a "pedal" of sorts you'd step down on,to slide the engine & its pad back,that would tighten a short v-belt that drove the blade,hidden under the engine mount pad !..when you struck something like a rock,stump,etc,the spring loaded pedal assembly would pop up,and disengage the blade by slacking off the v-belt...

It worked very well,it saved the engine and blade from damage...that little 2 stroke had plenty of power to cut tall grass and weeds,despite being rated less than 1 hp..

I wish I had kept the thing,just for a conversation piece--the engine looked a lot like one of those Cox model airplane engines on steriods--no tin shrouds on it,the flywheel had a "fan" made of sheet metal made into it...rope start..was probably made in the 50's ?..
 

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I like Honda's system, and never had any problems with it.
 

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Hello, I have a 1983 Lawn Boy model #8402 commercial self propelled capstan drive 21" BBC equipped mower. This is one of my two primary mowers. Is has a very high number of running hours on it. Lubing the two BBC bearings and cleaning grass from it when needed has kept it trouble free and operating properly after all these years. Having BBC does make it heavier than one without , but it is self propelled. In the fall having the BBC is very handy when using it with the side discharge chute and the large capacity leaf bag. You can leave the motor running when stopped to empty the bag and not have to restart the motor. Which I would have to do so many many times as I have 3 giant silver maple tree that produce large volumes of leafs. The fiction disc has wear, but is not worn out.
 

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My 30 year old Toro was given to my SiL 9 years ago. It is still in use and the bbc is still working very well. I get to use it when I'm there visiting.
 

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My kawasaki powered toro has the bbc and while I was not a fan of them before purchasing that mower, they do have their uses. It is nice in the spring when bagging grass and in the fall when sucking leaves up. I've had it a year and have had no issues with the bbc and it was ran hard by 2 commercial guys for 13 years before I got it so I'd say it's a good enough system. How much longer will it last? Who's to say.
 

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Sounds good. The secret in diagnosing a troubled BBC is sound. When you hear unfamiliar sound it's time to investigate
 

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Regards the John Deere 14SB / JX57 / JX85, etc:

The BBC basically has three parts contained within a housing. A spring that seems to last forever, a bearing that can be changed with minimal fuss and a friction plate that again can be changed without too much difficulty. The problem often is that the BBC can be a real pain to get off the mower. The bolt that is required to remove the BBC is under the blades and it is no good squirting release fluid or warming the part because the thread is about 6" away inside the BBC where you can't get at it. If the thread is stuck you need to really jam the crank and hope that the hex socket on the bolt doesn't round off in the struggle. The answer is simple; release the bolt every year when you sharpen the blades or put the mower away for the winter. Take it out, remove the BBC, check the bearing and thickness of friction plate, grease the thread of the bolt and replace it. Takes about five minutes if everything is OK.

If the bearing screeches when the mower is running without the blade activated it needs changing. It sounds like two sheets of metal scraping over one another. If it needs changing; drift the bearing out using a chisel or similar, clean the hole where it sits with a wire brush on a drill and then replace the bearing with a 62052N bearing available cheaply from Internet sellers.

If the friction plate is getting a bit thin chisel it off, clean the debris off and then use two pot epoxy to secure a grinding disc from an angle grinder onto the plate. First take off the metal centre of the disc, use pliers or nippers to nibble the hole large enough to fit over the crank and score some shallow radial spoke grooves into both surfaces using a cutting disc on your angle grinder. Then smear epoxy into both surfaces and clamp them together until the epoxy cures.

Over here in France I see lots of John Deeres being sold for parts just because the BBC has gone and it costs over €200 for a new one. Replacing the parts described above can be done in an hour (plus curing time) for less than €12.
 

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I bought a Honda HR214 in 1988. The only problem is once a rock got stuck in the clutch that wouldn't let it dis-engage. It was an easy fix. My wife still uses it every week to do her mom's lawn. If you can find one of these in good shape buy it. Keep the cables lubed and replace the rings and head gasket when it starts to smoke at start up
 

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I’ve got a bunch of John Deere mowers with the BBC. I don’t know if I’d really care to have one without. Safety for my kids using it is important and I use it all the time when bagging or picking up things in the yard.
 
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