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Old 09-05-2017, 03:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Lawn mower repair for frustration and loss

I have been trying to keep Mom's lawn mower alive. It does not seem too old. I keep reading that, like many other things, they used to be built to last, but now they are disposable. Someone commented the parts to repair often cost more than a new mower. According to RepairClinic, these are fifteen reasons a mower might not start:
  1. Spark Plug
  2. Clogged carburetor
  3. Bad carburetor
  4. Old or Bad Gasoline
  5. Start Switch
  6. Fuel Pump
  7. Flywheel Key
  8. Ignition Coil
  9. Fuel Filter
  10. Safety Switch
  11. Rewind Spring
  12. Rewind Pulley and Spring
  13. Recoil Spring
  14. Recoil Starter
  15. Recoil Starter Pulley
https://www.repairclinic.com/RepairH...er-won-t-start

I changed the spark plug, gas, oil, and air filter, and cleaned the carburetor. I looked at it yesterday and eventually got it to start, but it died when I was slowly trying to mow tall grass, with half of the mower going over already cut grass. It had been smoking, when I tried to start it again it just shot out white smoke, and I did not have time to get it working again. People argue whether white smoke is oil or water, but I found some things to try the next time I make the five-hour drive. It is frustrating that I am having this much trouble keeping a fairly-new mower working, but I read about mowers dying after a month or a year. My sister is a hippy, bought an electric mower, gave it to Mom, moved to Oregon, and bought another electric mower.

However, she is also lazy, so she pays landscapers to do the work.

They use gas equipment, of course.

Yeah, the electric one broke, too. Hopefully I will get that working again when the parts arrive.

We have debated the most environmentally-friendly approaches to different things. Composting toilets, etc. I imagine most would say the most environmentally-friendly way to have a lawn is to not have a lawn. There must be other methods of turning water and CO2 into oxygen and an attractive landscape.

Like a garden. You do not need to mow a garden!

There are landscapers that use goats. Nobody in her area has a reel mower for sale. The cheapest one I found in Phoenix is $30, but there are people asking $100 for one!

I found some suggestions on-line, like checking the spark plug for oil and either spraying starting fluid in the hole, or tossing in some gasoline. I found this comment poignant:

Quote:
In my area you can get a very used reel mower off craigslist for $40 to $60. Did you know that lawn mowers account for 5% of USA greenhouse emissions? And probably 90% of noise pollution by my estimation. Why would you want to contribute to that? Do you hate our planet *and* your neighbors?
That escalated quickly!

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Old 09-05-2017, 04:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, I do hate the neighbors.

Not too many liquid cooled mowers, especially walk behind, so your white smoke isn't from coolant or water. If there was water in the gas it would be hard or impossible to start.

Blue smoke is from oil; flatheads can burn oil from worn piston rings or intake valve stem guide, or theoretically from a plugged crankcase vent system but I've not personally encountered that.

Many mowers are OHV now so bad head gaskets can be added to the list, and some are prone to have that problem. Another symptom of a blown head gasket on an OHV engine is if it madly spews oil out the filler if you open it while it's running (combustion/compression is pressurizing the crankcase). And oil is getting into the combustion chamber so the sparkplug will be filthy.

Also, overfilling the crankcase with oil can cause smoking. For your engine, find out if the dipstick- if there is one- is supposed to be screwed in or merely resting on the inlet for taking a reading.

Black smoke is from a too-rich condition. Too much fuel = bad/maladjusted carb float or fuel inlet needle or just main plus low speed jets maladjusted or restriction in the intake, usually a dirty air filter or choke that isn't opening. Paper air filters that have been gasoline-soaked may appear OK but they don't pass air at all! If I suspect a bad air filter I simply take it off and see if it starts easily with no filter. I've gotten a few engines for free for that reason because the owners gave up on them when they wouldn't start no matter what.
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Old 09-05-2017, 05:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Timely question, I was looking for a place to post this:


http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2017/09/if-you-must-push-lawn-mower-may-as-well.html

When I lived right downtown, the front yard was two 20ft sq patches. I gave it a shag cut with a scythe. Little old people couples would come down the sidewalk and comment on how long it had been since they had seen one. The neighbor kid borrowed it for Halloween.

When I was in a landscaping cooperative in my tax-resisting anarchistic youth, we had one customer who insisted we use reel hand mowers, for the best cut and because they are quiet. We liked it because — hey, billable hours.

Which raises a question. The 'news' talks about Antifa being anarchists, when they are really nihilists. But nobody calls the Cajun Navy being anarchists, when they are in fact self-organizing rednecks.

Edit: More anarchism, this time from a corporation:

justacarguy:SALUTE of the day! Tide is helping in Rockport Texas, and have been doing disaster relief since Katrina, 12 years ago

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Old 09-05-2017, 07:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think it is weird I have mowed lawns for decades, done some equipment maintenance, and am familiar with cars, but find lawnmowers alien and confusing.

People have mentioned bad head gaskets or needing a rebuild. I replaced the head gasket on a Subaru. A lawn mower would be easier, right?

Right?!

Freebeard! That is an awesome picture! If you never know where to share an image, you are welcome to derail any of my threads.

It might make them more meaningful!

I know what I am doing with Mom's electric lawnmower!

This is the first mower I have used that did not have a primer. Is that good or bad?

Frank, I would try opening the filler, but I need to get it running first!

Things to try:[*]Check the spark plug for oil and either spraying starting fluid in the hole, or tossing in some gasoline.[*]Check the spark.[*]See if I am supposed to screw in the dipstick to check the oil. It was loose when I went to work with it, so I wonder why, and what may have happened to it since. It was at the right level, assuming the dipstick was supposed to be screwed in.[*]Check the oil for gas.[*]Remove air filter and attempt to start.[*]Take apart the carburetor again and check for obstructions, including the jet hole.[*]Check the gas for oil.[*]Check the muffler for rust. These things have mufflers? Can I upgrade it?! Take it to a muffler shop! People claim electric mowers are quiet, but not Mom’s! [Until it broke!]

That does not seem very viable: https://www.jackssmallengines.com/di...lection-guide/

Someone else decided to be helpful: “Guys, be serious. Everybody knows that reel mowers are for hippies that can't figure out internal combustion.“

Someone commented that according to the EPA, a lawn mower polluted as much as eleven new cars. Cars have gotten cleaner and cleaner, right? When was that statistic calculated? Lawn mowers have supposedly gotten cleaner and cleaner, but have they kept up with cars?

This article tried to research that claim and other wildly varying ones, but stated that the EPA standard for 2012 was that each manufacturer’s mowers emit, on average, no more than four times as much pollution as a car.

One engine that only displaces 1/6th of a liter pollutes as much as four 2 liter engines. People argue that mowers need to have catalytic converters, but how long does it take for a car cat to reach operating temperature?

Quote:
it’s likely Americans burn more than 600 million gallons of gas a year cutting the grass. […] the EPA estimates at least 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled annually just filling lawn mowers.
Quote:
In 2009, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 86,000 injuries involving lawn mowers required a trip to the emergency room; in 6,400 of these cases the victim died or wound up hospitalized.
How Much Pollution Do Gasoline-Powered Lawn Mowers Cause?

Is one type of mower safer than another?

Quote:
Riding mowers cause 95 deaths each year, while walk-behind mowers cause three.
Yeah, lumping deaths and hospitalizations was misleading.

Gas mowers represent 5% of U.S. air pollution. Buying Guide - Lawnmower Environmental Impact - National Geographic's Green Guide

I will never understand people wanting rechargeable mowers. Consumer Reports happily proclaimed that electric mowers finally rival gas ones! They only cost twice as much! But you will eventually break even saving on gas and maintenance! Except the lithium battery will need to be replaced for $150! https://www.consumerreports.org/push...al-gas-models/
Lithium batteries usually aren’t recycled!

They still sell reel mowers! Home Depot has them starting at $66 for a 16” Remington. $70 for a 20” Aavix. Their Fiskars mower has the highest rating, more expensive than some gas mowers, but better-rated than any that I saw.

Fiskars has pretty good reviews everywhere I have found.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You're overthinking it. Single cylinder gas engines are simple. Think simple.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You need:
compression
spark
fuel
air

Which one is missing?
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm selling our gas mower and using just the trimmer from here on out. Our yard's not big and it takes too much garage space anyway. Starting fluid is the only way that mower ever started.

PS if you want to drive to Texas, you can have it. :P When the mower is gone, we'll only have one fossil fuel engine left.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart?

Earth, Wind, and Fire?

I am pretty sure the things I mention test spark, fuel, and air.

Andy, east Texas? Yeah, no. I have a strict rule about not driving to the far side of another state without a compelling reason, which means that west Texas would be acceptable, but east New Mexico would not be.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would guess carburetor. Check to see if there are any diaphragms inside the carb that are warped from aggressive cleaners and/or ethanol. Make sure the governing springs have not been adjusted too tight.

If you get it to start, just let it run for a few minutes and listen for any abnormal fluctuations in engine speed or puffs of black smoke.
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Old 09-06-2017, 12:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Does this mower have a recoil starter? I hate barely tolerate recoil starters.

Take it off and use a cordless drill for an external starter, like they do with race cars.

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