Honda HS928TAS Review

Track-driven snowblower provides optimum traction

By Jerry Bassett, Oct. 01, 2010, Photography by Honda
Some of us learn things the hard way. One thing we’ve learned from our trials of errors is that sometimes things are exactly what they seem. Honda power products seem to have a well-earned reputation for quality, reliability and overall durability. So, after having bought and destroyed a goodly number of lawn & garden and snow removal products over our years as a home owner, we finally recognized the truth that Honda’s reputation is real. Having accepted that we would have saved money by paying the initial purchase premium for Honda brand equipment, we now count a Honda hydrostatic lawn mower, a Honda mini-tiller and a tracked Honda snowblower in our inventory of homeowner grounds equipment.

The heart of Honda power equipment literally starts with the engine. The company’s reputation for reliable, easy starting, long-lived overhead industrial type four-stroke engines led some power product competitors to specify Honda power for their own lawn mowers, tillers and snow throwing equipment. While other brands may come with Honda power, they do not get the full expertise of Honda engineering in the complete piece of equipment.

Honda’s use of involute driven tracks adds traction and extra capabilities for homeowners.

That is definitely the case with Honda’s nine-horsepower single cylinder engine that serves as the heart of the dual-tracked HS928TAS snowblower. This is the penultimate power in Honda’s snow removal line, leaving the 11-hp HS1132TAS as king of Honda’s snowblowers. Regardless of the power supply, the two tracked models share similar functions. The track system is a simple design of dual plastic wheels with involute gears that mesh with rubber nubs inside a very pliable rubber track. Honda engineers settled on a rubberized material that is very pliable at low winter temperatures and features raised cleats to grip both powder or wet, packed snow.

The air-cooled Honda motor works via Honda’s hydrostatic transmission, which permits you to crawl ahead while the engine is operating at maximum torque. Slip the hydrostatic lever ahead to ramp up speed for transporting the blower from the finished driveway back to storage in your garage or barn. The hydrostatic drive offers advantages over gear-drive transmissions as the ground speed can be adjusted to virtually any speed setting and not dependent on a pre-selected gear ratio. If you encounter resistance with a mound of compacted blown snow, simply adjust ground speed to a snail’s pace.

The serrated auger rips aggressively into packed snow, cutting a 28-inch path as it goes.

We are definitely proponents of hydrostatic drive, having specified it in our lawn mowers over the years. We’ve found Honda’s version to be especially trouble-free while requiring minimal maintenance. Check the fluid levels occasionally as specified in the owner’s manual and you should be just fine.

When it comes to chewing up packed snow, we’ve found the dual stage HS928TAS is particularly aggressive. That’s owed to the serious cutting edges of the blower’s auger. Honda uses bearings to support the auger’s shaft for smooth and long lasting operation. Should you run afoul of a stone or other debris that stops the auger drive, you’ll find that the shear bolts can be replaced quickly and easily.

The dual stages move and chew a 28-inch wide path and can throw up to 55 tons of snow per hour. The 9-hp tracked Honda will attack snowfalls up to 20-inches in depth.

The Honda’s controls are simple to operate, readily available and convenient for gloved or mittened hands. Even if you opt not to add the 120-volt electric option, we’ve found the Honda single amazingly easy to start. It pulls easily and starts willingly -- worst case usually on the second pull. The motor is very quiet, with minimal vibration by comparison to other non-Honda snowblowers or lawn & garden products. The 9-hp Honda comes with a very generous 1.58-gallon fuel tank that will let you blow out large driveways.

Dual tracks are engaged via involute gears that engage the rubberized tracks.

Honda’s 9-hp snowblower weighs in at 240-pounds, which isn’t a problem if the engine is running, but can be a handful to maneuver when it isn’t. The wheeled models are much easier to move around in storage than the tracked models. But Honda claims the tracked models enjoy advantages over wheeled versions when it comes to operating on hilly terrain and inclines, rough ground, icy surfaces, gravel or no-asphalt driveways, and clearing packed snow.

Because the tracked snowblower’s auger height adjustment system carries much of its weight in the front end, the Honda can scrape down to the surface and cut into hard-packed snow or snow that has been driven over. You can easily adjust the blower’s auger to let it clear and clean glides over rough surfaces like stone driveways or walks.

As we noted earlier, Honda snowblowers carry a premium price, especially when compared to “store brand” models that you might see at hardware or big box stores. But, as we’ve learned over the years, sometimes that initial premium price ends up being less expensive in the long haul. Consider what you get with these Honda products: Honda’s own commercial grade engines that are trouble-free and easy-starting; Honda’s own hydrostatic drive; heavy-duty ball bearings for support of the auger gear drive; metal chutes and auger housings; a bronze gear on the chute’s rotation rod; and a three-year homeowners warranty.

It’s said that “...you get what you pay for.” In the case of the Honda HS928TAS snowblower you’ll pay a suggested retail of US$2,909.00, but we know from experience that Honda quality lasts a very long time.

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