A Little More About Small Engines

Recently, I received a frantic call from one of the Primary Wife’s co-workers.  Seems she had to buy a new battery for her two yr old lawn mower, and was unsure how to install it.  Of course I was happy to drive over and do it for her, but really, battery installation just about always involves connecting the two cables (positive/negative) to the proper terminals.  All you need is a open-end wrench.  What kind of tickles me about this, and perhaps terrifies me at the same time, this super nice woman is a veteran critical care nurse.  I think if you have what it takes to drain blood from me, or worse, insert a catheter into my penis, you can install a battery in a lawnmower.

No matter.  Since I always appreciate learning stuff about tools I use, I’ll share a little info I believe will save you time and money…

First, if you are using ethanol “enhanced” gasoline in your mower, blower, or weedeater, stop it.  Every small engine mechanic I have talked with has agreed that it will harm your small engine, and right soon.  Take the time to find a station offering ethanol-free fuel, and buy a 5 gallon can to store it .  Unless you are like me, (I make the trek every week in peak mowing season) that can should last you months.  I mentioned one location here, but there are others in and around the Nashville area.

Most mowers have lubrication points.  Those are those tiny little ports strategically located near the moving parts.  Find them, lube them.  They are there for a reason.  I lube mine at least once a month, but again, I spend way more hours on a mower than most.

When you put your mower away for the Winter, add a fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank.  Make sure to start your mower and other small engines at least once a month in the Winter.  If you do neither of those things, chances are good that you will have a hard time cranking it come Spring.  The first thing I check is the spark plug.  Old fuel can cause your plug to become corroded, and it provides the fire necessary to crank your engine.  They are easy and cheap to replace.  No need to cart the mower off to a repair place until you have tried a new plug.

Get out your manual and determine where all of the filters are.  Typically, you have at least two:  Air, and fuel.  Your engine requires an unobstructed air flow to operate.  Sometimes, fuel filters become clogged and again, both of these things are pretty easy to replace.

Raise your deck.  The mowing deck houses your blades.  Raising it up while you mow will help prevent your blades from striking rocks and becoming dull.  Also, cutting your grass higher is better for weed control.  Too-short grass allows weeds more sun, and weeds are more susceptible near their tops, while grass is more susceptible near its roots.

Finally, word about batteries.  Before replacing a battery, take it to any one of the major auto parts houses.  They charge them for free.  110% of the time, they will tell you that your battery is dead, and won’t hold a charge.  Hoooey.  Their machines must have a default setting for this.  Ask them to go ahead and charge it anyway (plead poverty if you must) then take it home and install it.  Chances are good it will crank.  You have only lost a day if it doesn’t.

The thing is, I’m no mechanic.  Repairs are expensive.  I’ve learned to maintain and troubleshoot out of necessity.  Don’t be afraid to dive in and look around for an easy fix.  Air, fuel, fire.

We’ll do blade sharpening another day…



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2 responses to “A Little More About Small Engines

  1. democommie

    Boy, I know who I’m gonna call the next time I need a urinary catheter installed!

  2. Good. You do that. Leave me totally out of consideration, Demo.

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