"Keep a Journal: How else are you going to get a good look at who you were?"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lawn Mowers...

Our Murray mower (Briggs & Stratton 4.5hp rear bagger / mulcher) has finally packed it in. I did a marathon back and front yard mow and towards the end of the front yard the mower began stalling. I would wait a few minutes, then re-start it, it would run for a few minutes, stall again, then I would wait a few more minutes...

A ten minute job ended up taking more than 30 mins; and the sun was going down.

A day or two later, I got a call from Grant. His mower had died. Our two mowers are very similar...so I suggested that we both call mower repair shops in our neighborhood and then get together the next night and send out the mowers the following Saturday to whomever had the best price. That ended up being Fraser Valley Equipment on King George Hwy and 72nd ave. However, the plan went slightly awry afterward...

I had to work that Saturday, and Grant was told by FVE that his mower had a seized crankshaft and wasn't worth the cost of overhauling it. Curiously enough, after Grant got his "dead" mower home; he tried starting it...and it started.

He may need to do what I did: A Briggs & Stratton seasonal overhaul.

B&S has some basic manuals and procedures listed on their corporate website. A seasonal overhaul (yearly service?) involves cleaning the air and fuel filters, treating the fuel and treating the carburetor with cleaning solvent. Also checking and replacing the plug (if necessary) and checking and replacing / re-adjusting the ignition module (if necessary). Top it off (so to speak) with an oil change. Add a thorough scrub of the mower deck and wheels, and you have a mower that looks good, starts with the first pull, and runs like new.

So I did all that.

AND...as usual, something went wrong.

This seems to be a trend lately; especially when I'm working with something un-familiar. This is the first time I've gotten my hands dirty over the lawn mower.

With the engine rebuild on the Cavalier: forgot to plug the fuel pump back in...took half a day to figure out.

The replacement engine mount: forgot to jack down the front of the car and remove the lumber dunnage from under the engine.

The re-built bicycle wheel: well, not really my fault, I actually had no business even attempting to re-do a wheel with a rim that badly out-of-shape.

The Lawn Mower:

I got finished all the fluid exchanges and the re-adjustments. I couldn't narrow down what air gap to use on the ignition module so I just used a playing card as a shim. Worked fine.

The mower started and ran...but very slowly. Now I figured that this was because the carb was still full of crud and I would only have to wait awhile before the carb cleaner and fuel treatment did their respective jobs and restored fuel flow to the engine.

I played with the throttle. On our Murray, the throttle lever is actually pre-set to midrange with a bent metal tang and is not actually adjustable unless you un-bend the tang. I tried it; no dice.

That should have clued me in...

Finally, I did what you are absolutely NOT supposed to do: I removed the air cleaner and observed the carb underneath.

Then I saw that the throttle wasn't moving...'cause I had put it on backwards...


At least I spotted it before giving up and sending the mower to the FVE guys. I'm sure they would have had a good laugh at my naivete.

The mower...runs very well now, thankew.

And I finally got to mow the front lawn...just in time for the city to dig half of it up next week.


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