atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

Damn Lawn Mower

The parents own a Lawn Boy with a Tecumseh engine. The thing up and stopped running last week for no apparent reason.

Well, so guess who got to spend his two days off trying to fix it? Besides running errands yesterday?

I have always been a fan of Briggs and Stratton engines. Back in high school, one of my then-friends brought his go-kart over to my house. This way we could use the thing without the kids in his neighborhood wanting to drive it as well. (One of the advantages of living in a highly gentrified neighborhood: few people your own age to horn in on your stuff.) We beat the everloving piss out of that thing's poor B&S 3.5 horsepower engine. The governor was the first thing to go, so it got wide-open throttle at all times. I did replace the rings in it twice, but other than that, regular oil changes, and a new centrifugal clutch, it never needed a damn thing. That engine was a tank.

Up until the late 1990s my parents had never owned any lawn mower with anything other than a B&S motor. They ended up buying one with a Tecumseh motor and after two seasons it threw a rod. Up until then I had never even heard of a lawn mower throwing a rod.... On the other hand, though, my parents tend to treat lawn mowers like disposable appliances. Unless you're related to me you would not believe how much I had to argue with my Dad to get him to understand that you have to change the oil in the lawn mower every year. (At least every year.)

This particular lawn mower is a Lawn Boy. It's self-propelled and has electric start. Having been left outside year round, the battery for it is totally shot, so the electric start no longer works.

I spent part of my precious Monday trying to make the thing work, but it wouldn't; today I dove back into the carb and tore it down completely. I found several bits and pieces which desperately needed cleaning, including a mixture screw which was hidden behind a cover that I had to destroy to get out. The screw had two orofices in it and they were both clogged--any wonder the damn thing wouldn't run with shellac solidified in the carb parts?

I even took the throttle butterfly out. I nearly blasted carb cleaner in my eyes, too, damn it. I closed my eyes before I blew into a passage on the carb, and this saved me a trip to the emergency room, but I still had to run into the house to wash the stuff off my eyelids. A miniscule amount crept past my eyelids and that was bad enough, but carb cleaner tends to be a skin irritant and it burned. I rinsed out my eye and triple-checked, but my eye wasn't even red--score one for our team.

ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION WHEN WORKING WITH CARB CLEANER--THIS MEANS YOU of the benefits of wearing glasses is that you don't need safety goggles quite as much as those who don't need glasses. This makes me want to get a real parts washer, though. A parts washer and an annual visit from Saf-T-Kleen probably would cost less than a trip to the emergency room and subsequent care, even with health insurance.

Anyway, so after cleaning every last damnable passage in the carb with wire and carb cleaner and harsh language, I reassembled the thing. The carb jet got two new o-rings from an assortment of o-rings I bought from Harbor Freight for $7--that alone paid for the assortment--and Dad had picked up a few parts for me on the way home from taking Mom to the roller skating rink. So after working and cleaning and struggling and reassembling the damn thing, I finally got it to run reliably again. I was able to mow the entire yard--well, the entirety of the original lot that the house was built on, anyway; not the "east 40"--before Dad got back from picking Mom up from the skating rink.

Total cost for repair: about $25 worth of parts and $5 for the two Big Macs I rewarded myself with when all was said and done. I rule.

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