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Homebuilt Mower Is Better Than a New One

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William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Not just Briggs & Stratton
William K.   10/12/2015 10:25:35 PM
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I have a fairly cheap rotary mower, some store brand of what appears to be a Briggs and Stratton, and it developed a tendancy to be quite hard to start the first time. So I figured that it might be dirt in the carb. The carb came off simply, only 2 bolts. Four screws held the fuel takn to the carb. When I carefully separated the carb and tank I discovered that there is a very complex gasket-type part between them which includes rubber flap-type check valves. These were no longer working, which explained the hard starting. But it won't go back together because the rubber won't stay in place, due to swelling. And that little rubber piece does not seem to be available, only a new carb and tank assembly, costing more than the mower  did. I am NOT a satisfied customer.

BillJC
User Rank
Iron
Re: Not just Briggs & Stratton
BillJC   10/12/2015 10:27:22 AM
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You can use ethanol laced gas in most small gas lawn maintenance engines if you do the following. Treat the gas with Ethanol Shield. When done using hand-held equipment (blowers, string trimmers, etc.) always drain the gas and run the engine dry. With larger lawn mover/tractor engines, draining isn't necessary as long as the gas is used within a few months.

Wayne Eleazer
User Rank
Gold
Re: Not just Briggs & Stratton
Wayne Eleazer   9/4/2014 4:22:42 PM
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Mr Wirtel: I have not been troubled by ethanol in the fuel for my mowers, because I don't use fuel containing alcohol.  I own an airplane, and they can't use ethanol, either - the results likely would be catastrophic, as well as technically illegal.

One of the preflight tasks on light aircraft is to drain the fuel sumps to check for water and other contamination; this amounts to a few ounces before each flight.  If the fuel looks pretty good and has no water (never does) I pour it into a small fuel can and bring it home for use in the mowers.  The normal process is to pour the fuel to be discarded on the ground, so saving it for use in the mower (and my home emergency generator) is both a cost saving and is environmentally responsible.  Essentially, the fuel for the mower costs me nothing, and that fact makes me even more diligent in checking for fuel contamination in the airplane. 

This means that sometimes the mower is running on pure 100 octane leaded aviation fuel and sometimes on a mixture of aviation fuel and the non-ethanol gasoline I occasionally am able to procure to use in the airplane, but the mower does not seem to care either way.

So if you want to go to a general avaition airport and pay perhaps $5-$6 for a gallon of aviation fuel, that might be well worth it to avoid the cost and bother of increased mower maintenance.  I would guess that in a normal mowing season this represents a total of no more than $5 in cost over that of using cheaper ethanol containing auto fuel.    

Cadman-LT
User Rank
Platinum
Hate
Cadman-LT   8/20/2014 10:18:08 AM
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Wayne, thanks for reminding me why I hate mowing and hate mowers even more.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
HOMEBUILT
bobjengr   8/11/2014 6:03:47 PM
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Wayne-excellent post.  I am amazed as to how some of these consumer products get into production.  I base my opinion on a play-ground set I purchased for my kids when they were young.  The installation instructions were basically unreadable due to the printing method used.  The graphics appeared drawn by a three year old.  Missing parts, holed not drilled properly for alignment, you name it.  I took the entire set back.  They gladly gave me a replacement but that did not do the trick.  Very same situation with the replacement. Very same.  I decided a third attempt would not be any better so I redesigned the set to my satisfaction.  It took the better part of a day and several trips to our local hardware but the result was a better "mouse-trap".  My kids loved it and really enjoyed working with me on the redesign.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Too many regulations
William K.   8/9/2014 5:05:51 PM
NO RATINGS
Hank is certaainly right about excessive safety regulations. The worst that I have had to undo is the bar that dragged along behind the mower and would jam the rear wheels if the mower was pulled backwards. I mow the lawn bacvk and forth, while those afflicted with the feature have to turn the mower around to go back. That doubles the effort needed to mow a lawn. And a rotary cuts just as well going backwards, so it is only a feature intended to keep from mowing one's feet, which I am very careful to never mow over my feet anyway. But it seems that juries and lawyers have f9orced the inclusion of features designed to protect the "terminally stupid" people. What ever happened to the concept of natural selection? AND why should stupidity be rewarded?

Mr. Wirtel
User Rank
Gold
Not just Briggs & Stratton
Mr. Wirtel   8/7/2014 9:56:53 AM
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  The problems you describe come very close to describing what I experienced with a Kohler engine on my Toro mower.  I have always bought cheaper mowers, usually store brands and most of those seemed to be made by MTD, but my son thought I deserved something better and bought the Toro for a Father's day, birthday & Christmas present. It worked great for the 2013 mowing season, but when I fired it up this year, it always started easily, but continually surged and  would not mow very thick grass. In the old days I would have just cranked up the throttle, but as others have noted that feature no longer exits.

  I took it to the dealer where it was purchased and was informed the carbureator needed to be replaced. This was not covered by the extended warranty purchased. The mechanic blamed a combination of cheap Chinese manufacture coupled with the toxic effect of ethanol laced fuel. I did not have the time or inclination to pursue this myself, so I paid to have it fixed and do my complaining in this forum instead.

  Say what you want but it does appear to me that  small engine problems are much more common since the politicos have mandated ethanol in gasoline. I also know from experience that it is lethal to two cycle engines because of the effrect on the oil mixture.

fdos
User Rank
Iron
Re: Me too, but choose to modify my Pressure Washer.
fdos   8/7/2014 12:43:39 AM
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@bobwojo: Indeed and saves time too. I think cost wise also its effective. 

bobwojo48
User Rank
Silver
Re: Me too, but choose to modify my Pressure Washer.
bobwojo48   8/6/2014 11:15:25 PM
NO RATINGS
I cut the hise and inserted a small shutoff valve.  easier than remounting the engine IMHO....

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: electric mower
Larry M   8/6/2014 6:43:57 PM
NO RATINGS
The best Briggs & Stratton rotary lawn mower (vertical shaft) engines are the ones with the gas tank mounted beneath the carburetor. They have no float bowl. A small piece of brass tubing goes straight down from the venturi port to a filter screen in the bottom of the tank.

Why are these best? Because all of the manufacturers of float bowl carburetors have switched to a Viton seat for the float needle which fails every two years. (It's blamed on ethanol which may be correct.) They used to be brass and lasted forever. When the Viton seat loses elasticity, gas leaks from the high-mounted tank into the carburetor, then flows into the engine (valve gallery or combustion chamber) and thence to the crankcase where it dilutes the oil.

If you have one of these mowers, you can detect the failure. Each time you go to use the mower you will notice two things:
  1. The gas tank is completely dry, even though you may have filled it before you put it away at last use.
  2. When you check the oil, it's never low. In fact it's higher each time.

Of course, these engines aren't designed to run on gas-diluted oil and wear out prematurely.

But the old B&S design never fails in this way because there is no float needle seat to leak.

I find these old-type mowers on the curb on trash day and keep a couple around.

One of the reasons for the changes the author mentions is that the EPA has "helpfully" instituted pollution standards for lawnmowers. Hence no choke, no throttle, and special mixture screws that require you to cobble up a tool to adjust them.

Ask me sometime about the Poulan leaf blower I fixed for a girlfriend.

 

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