Made by Monkeys

Homebuilt Mower Is Better Than a New One

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bob from maine
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Re: Too many regulations
bob from maine   7/25/2014 10:44:07 AM
Wow Hank-4, I though I was the only surviving Gravely owner! I have a 30" mower, snow-blower, rotary plow and push blade. This is beyond a doubt the most dangerous machine I have in my inventory. It has a single handle that does forward and reverse and if you select reverse the mower will back over you without any difficulty, newer models would prevent the handle from 'locking' in the reverse position but the older ones do not so great care is necessary. I recently bought a John Deere riding mower and it is a great machine except if you follow the owners manual exactly you cannot operate the tractor! The engineers did a great job in designing a tractor, then they gave their manual to the legal department and the end result is a manual that has so many "Caution's" and "Danger's" interspersed between the instructions that a) no-one would ever read them and b) if you DO read them and try to follow them it is literally impossible to operate the tractor. I guess this is to prevent lawsuits. After all - if you can't operate the mower the worst injury you may have is tripping over it or swallowing the key.

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Re: electric mower
Amclaussen   7/25/2014 10:29:20 AM
Carburetor woes on (previously) good old Briggs & Stratton is nowadays very frequent...

In contrast to that, I've found the Honda small engines very trouble free! The demise of the previous quality of B & S engines is unquestionable.  Bad design and even badder materials selection. Another great american company that goes to trash. Too sad. Amclaussen.

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Too many regulations
Hank-4   7/25/2014 10:00:35 AM
I guess this is just another example of what happens when the government steps in to regulate things in the name of "safety". I still have a Gravely model L two-wheel walk-behind with a 30" deck. The machine is over 30 years old. Parts are becoming scarce (and expensive) but the mower still does the job that it was designed to do. I have to at least give a nod to the need for safety on any power equipment. Most power equipment can inflict serious injury when not used properly. That being said, it does seem that the government is expecting vendors to design equipment that is (for lack of a better term) idiot proof. What the consumer ends up getting is equipment that is expensive and unreliable.

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Re: electric mower
tekochip   7/25/2014 9:01:53 AM
Frequent carburetor cleaning sounds like the Briggs and Stratton I had.  The carburetor was some sort of strange nylon body with a neoprene "baffle" separating the body from the machined top of the gas tank.  I'd clean the baffle and then it would run for about a half hour before the mixture went bad again.  After some examination I decided that the baffle must be metering the fuel through a flap of neoprene that would fluctuate over an orifice.  Just holding the baffle in my hand I could feel that the neoprene was starting to degrade and even stick against the machined tank, so I found a small engine store and bought a replacement baffle.  That did the trick, the mower ran great after that, so I bought a few baffles and just replaced them every couple of years as a matter of course.
In the end I bought a cheap, crummy electric mower, packed it with some rechargeable cells and a little electronics so I could run the mower solar powered.  I wanted to use some sort of lithium chemistry, but those cells are still pretty pricey, so I'm running with a NiMh pack.  There's just no way to monitor the charge state on these cells, so I built a monitor to Coulomb count the pack.  I'll never save enough money on fuel and oil to pay for the electronics or the battery pack, but the mower is lightweight, quiet and always ready to start.  It's also kind of fun to have a green mower.

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Re: Me too, but choose to modify my Pressure Washer.
a.saji   7/25/2014 6:43:14 AM
@Cabe: Any major updates on this subject so far ? 

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Me too, but choose to modify my Pressure Washer.
Cabe Atwell   7/24/2014 7:40:24 PM
DIY the future for home improvement? I'm ok with this.


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Me too, but choose to modify my Pressure Washer.
Amclaussen   7/24/2014 5:51:34 PM
I did some modifications to my newly purchased Pressure Washer: a Gasoline engine powered of the famous brand "Kärcher"... Being a German brand, you would expect a througly designed and tested product, but it was a case for a "Designed by Monkeys" example.

As it came form the factory, the Washer had the pressure hose and gun support on its right side, but the gas engine (Honda) had its starting cord facing the same side, so that, to start the engine, you have to take the hose and gun from the support and place it on the floor, in order to have room to be able to pull the starting cord. This was a little more than a small inconvenience, as the hose tended to collect dirt from the floor and therefore produce small scratches in the paint of the cars I wanted to wash, and required me to have to clean the hose after finishing washing the car!

Visiting a local COSTCO store, I noticed they started to sell another Pressure washer brand called "Powerstroke", that had exactly the same Honda model 160 gas engine as my Kärcher one, but I noticed the pressure washer looked somehow different to my Kärcher model.

I took a quick picture of the Powerstroke washer with my cellphone and compared it to my Kärcher when I returned to home.  Then it became obvious that the layout was almost exactly the same on both washers, except that the Powerstroke had its Honda gas engine turned exactly 180° around...  I took a look under my washer and discovered it had three bolts attaching the engine-pump unit to the cart base, so it was very easy to drill an additional 1/2" hole in the cart base to be able to turn the engine those 180° and reinstall it so that now the starting cord pointed to the front left side.  Now I just put my foot on the front of the washer to hold it while I give a strong pull to start the engine without having to remove the hose and spraying gun from the cart handle. As an added benefit, now the pump unit that is under the gas engine is orientated in a better position to allow me to connect and disconnect the small detergent hose from the pump, because it now faces the other side and has much more room to grasp the hose from the hose barb on the pump. Maybe latter on I could fit a small valve in order to shut down the flow of detergent when I finish spraying the car with detergent.  The detergent also needs to be completely flushed from the pump unit if you want to extend the life of the pump. (Maybe Kärcher wants you to buy a special liquid to preserve the pump on storage, but it is never available at my Kärcher distributors, and anyway it is expensive.  A small quarter turn valve on the detergent line would be nice, but that goes against Monkey Designers policies!)

Another mod I did to it, was to add a second small muffler after the original one, as an "After-muffler"... this reduced the annoying "bark" of the engine and allows me to use it even as late as nine o'clock at night without bothering the neighbors!

The third and last modification involved going to a nearby Goodyear/Gates hose shop, where they reused the quick fittings on the terrible, stiff and tenacious plastic high pressure hose originally supplied by Kärcher to a much better handling rubber pressure hose by Goodyear.  Even when it is not as nice as some beautiful light blue or red colored polyurethane hoses I've seen recently, that have a very nice almost "oily" texture surface cover that seems to repel dirt and sand particles (which are the real culprits of scratching the car paint), the rubber hose from Goodyear is much softer, and the hose does NOT have the terrible tendency to coil itself of the rigid plastic factory supplied one, that kinked badly and got easily damaged.

On the DESIGN aspect, the Monkeys at the factory decided the original hose was to be only 8 m long (about 25 ft.), which is a pain the lower part of the back because it is just  too short enough to complete a turn aroud a midsize car, so that I had to go back all around my car to reach the point where I started to hose it down... Now my new hose is about 11 m (36 ft) which is more that enough to allow me to complete my walk around the car without being too long to be cumbersome.

The only thing that is left to do on my pressure washer, is to correct the wrongly jetted engine, because Kärcher de Mexico delivers all these engines with the carburetor jets chosen for sea level altitude, which makes the Honda engine run too rich at our altitude in Mexico City of more than 7350 ft (and closer to 10,000 ft.  density Altitude on warm summer days)... That proves Japanese Monkeys at Honda to be on par to their German colleages!

Amclaussen, Mexico City.

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electric mower
patb2009   7/24/2014 12:58:41 PM
I'm surprised you didn't convert to an electric.  no noise, no pollution.



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