The Lawnmower Chronicles – Episode 2

I have never been good with engines, small or large. My skill level does not go much beyond changing various fluids. When it comes to serious repair, I hand that off to professionals. Doing it myself would probably only ask for more damage.

The intent today, on my first full day off in 8 weeks, was to get the lawn mowed, get a haircut, and then work on the RV, which my brother is coming to take tomorrow to travel to moe.’s Summercamp concert this coming weekend. Naturally I would have preferred to take a hike or something equally relaxing, but the lawn was in desperate shape, and my two neighbors had recently cut their lawns, so my stood out like it was in front of an abandoned house.

I had some trouble last week starting the beast, but had thought that, when I had put it away, the machine was ready for the rest of the summer. Not so fast. I did manage to get it started, but had not gotten even a third of the way down the first row when the mower sputtered and died. Not an auspicious beginning.

My first thought this time was to replace the gas. That had worked in the past. So I managed to dump the old gas into a 5-gallon pail (which is still currently sitting out on the garden rail), and then dumped the old gas sitting in the gas can into the Toyota Echo. I bought the good stuff – gas containing no ethanol. I thought that would help clear up the carburetor if that was where the trouble was. When I got the fresh gas into the machine, it sort of started and sputtered, but nver got up to full strength. Then it died.

I thought to myself that, since I had the time, I’d see if I could figure out for myself what might be wrong. I removed the air filter (it’s dirty), and loosened the gas tank, I took off the muffler, but that appeared fine. I removed the spark plug, but lacking any sandpaper I could not do a very good job cleaning it. But that did not really seem to be the issue. When I poked into the carburetor, the machine started up fine, so it does appear that the issue is some sort of carburetion issue. With the air filter off and the carbuetor intake exposed, the machine fired up. I sort of giggled the butterfly valve, and the machine seemed to run fine. After putting everything back together, the machine started for awhile, but soon enough gave up.

I have deduced that perhaps the trouble lies in the fact that when the mower gets too heated, something happens to the air/gas mixture. It seems to run OK when cold, but if I run it for a bit, then it sputters and conks out. Long story short, it took most of the day tinkering with various carburetor settings and pieces being on or off the machine to cut about 2/3 of the lawn. The front is cut, but the back is only about halfway complete. My last attempt ended about 4PM or so.

This sucked because I had intended to rest the old bones and sort of get back to a physical normal. Instead, I am sitting in front of the TV, watching the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics play some ball, and have taken 600mg of ibuprofen. My hair is uncut, and the RV seems to have a major leak somewhere in the water line around the bathroom.

So I gave in and called a lawn service. They have not returned my call as of yet. This may be the shortest writing series ever. Unless, perhaps, a new air filter…. 

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