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Old 07-06-2014, 03:12 PM
 
3,279 posts, read 3,756,513 times
Reputation: 6149

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Pardon my negativity, I do have a tendency to gripe in my posts a lot, I guess I'm trying to save my wife and other people from my grumbling.

Anyway, one thing that has always bothered me--how temperamental, to me, lawnmower engines are. It always happens--I'll buy a lawnmower, second-hand though it may be, it works fine when I buy it, I take it home, and within a week or two it starts with its moody thing to where Jesus himself practically can't get it to crank. It's infuriating, meanwhile any number of cars we've owned at the same time, even ones sometimes 15+ years old, crank right up without any nagging aggravations.

This had been a "settled" issue for me the past 2-3 years, as I had gotten a mower that finally wasn't like that. Every year it was the same thing--it would sit all winter, with the old gas in it & everything, and after 4-odd months of that, when it was time to use it, I simply drained out the old gas, put new gas in, primed it, and within 2-3 tries it fired right up. It was a mower you could count on--and this is the thing, I didn't do anything special with regards to maintenance, as I said, I stored it all winter with the old gas still in there. I never changed the spark plug or had anyone do any service to it, yet it STILL just freaking cranked when you asked it to. Not only that, I hadn't bought it new either, I bought it second-hand for like $40. Regardless, it just cranked, period, no special tricks required.

This would be a "settled" issue except that mower met the end of its life when a tree fell in our yard and landed square on it and turned it into a crumbled piece of metal. Just yesterday I got a replacement, and it cranked right up at the guy's house and here. After it choked in high grass, though, NOTHING I did would get it to start back up. It took everything in me not to smash it to bits myself as the tree had done to the other one. I was absolutely incensed.

Maybe I suffer from unrealistic expectations, but the way the other mower had been, me that's how ALL mowers should be, ALL of them. They shouldn't require so much freaking maintenance to them or else be so freaking hard to crank. They shouldn't be so prone to "flooding" or whatever--if there's excess gas from over-priming it, so what, just flush it out and start again, or even have something in there that burns the excess gas off vs just letting it stay in there and keep the engine "flooded" or whatever.

It makes no sense to me, our car is a 2002 and aside from regular oil changes we don't have to do all of this crazy maintenance stuff--you get in, turn the key, and it starts IMMEDIATELY, practically every single time. Why can't lawnmower engines be that way? I'm simply not interested in having to do all of this crazy stuff to it to make it that way (besides draining the gas once a year), I expect to pull the cord and it starts, period. Anything more than that is just too much work.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
13,139 posts, read 10,568,819 times
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Sometimes it is just carburetor adjustment. Sometimes it could be a indentation in the flywheel key. Or it could be a malfunctioning safety switch.

After you pull the cord a few times; remove the sparkplug. See if it is wet with gas. Then, without threading the plug back into the engine, reattach the sparkplug wire. Set the base of the sparkplug against your engine metal and pull the pull rope. You are looking to see if you see or hear any spark.

If your plug was not wet after pulling; you probably have carburetor problems. If you don't have a spark; you have electrical problems.

Either way; get back to me and maybe I can help?
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Old 07-06-2014, 05:16 PM
 
25,631 posts, read 29,109,412 times
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Guess you missed the cars of the 70's and early 80's.

You really can't compare small equipment engines to modern day car engines other than they both work off of combustion.

Maintenance is the key with small engine equipment.

I have a mower that starts on the first or second pull everytime since I bought it 6 years ago. It also has its own maintenance chart. For the last six years I can tell you everything I have done and the cost of the parts used.

I also run fuel injector cleaner all year round in my mowers gas mixture and only use 92 octane gas.

Ethanol is a PIA for small engine carbs and fuel systems.
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Old 07-06-2014, 05:24 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,389 posts, read 50,582,032 times
Reputation: 28621
That's not normal. I have a push mower with rope-pull and a riding mower with electric start, both over 10 years old and they both start immediately. every time. I also have a pull-start chipper shredder that is more like yours, but it may only be used 1-2 times a year. The biggest problem is old gas causing varnish. You have to either use an additive or be sure to run it dry at the end of the season, don't leave old gas in it for 3-4 months.
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Old 07-06-2014, 06:25 PM
 
2,600 posts, read 5,445,746 times
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Lack of maintenance plain and simple.
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:40 PM
 
Location: california
5,480 posts, read 4,554,733 times
Reputation: 6412
I was a small engine mechanic working mostly on air compressors and generators boat and wave runners as well .
Antique and state of the art .
Modern fuels evaporate and draw moisture fast having alcohol in them
Good fuel conditioners help but in hi heat or hi humidity it's still a challenge .
My experience in testing engines is doing the leak down ,not a compression test.
A leak down actually reveals where the failure is . Harbor freight sells the tool and you need an air compressor to operate it.
Often times it the intake or exhaust valves that after a hundred hours or so begin to wear and the clearance disappears between the valve and the lifter, actually holding the valve open so your losing compression.
Average clearance ball park to remember is 7-11
.007 on the intake and .011 on the exhaust, since the exhaust gets hotter.
As the engine runs these measurements disappear because some what due to the shafts grow with heat.
As the valve faces wear against the seat, the clearance goes away as well.

Second issue is the coil, and the condenser that is there to suppress the electrical noise the coil energy develops .
This is an issue in Canada because of the danger in a frequency that might be developed triggering a dynamite charge in mining, and other radio interference.
I have removed this condenser and the coil began to operate again. There is no mining in this area.
You may see the condenser next to the on /off switch on the engine.
Coils are notoriously weak.
These are mounted just inside or over the out side of the flywheel the thickness of a business card away from the magnet.
It is easiest to test the coil if you remove the spark plug and operate the starter .
Make really sure that is no gasoline in the atmosphere you don't need a fire.
One cylinder engines are tougher to work on because there are so many moving parts to wear. keeping it clean inside and out helps a lot.
And lubricate the linkages externally as well.
I like antiseaze compounds Graphite/grease .
Small engines generally don't have an oil filter, so regular oil changes are important especially right after running because the metal particles are still suspended in the oil. 100 hour intervals .

Engines that set for months remove all the gas .
My gas storage is filled to the brim with no vent. Any airspace and it will gass off.
The vent allows gassing out and the fuel goes bad .
Even with conditioners, I still keep my tanks full to the brim, no vent.
Your engines tank has a vent and the carburetor has a vent as well . thus they are emptied to prevent corrosion and fuel turn into lacquer.
Long as your at this, check for grease zerks and lube them all over the equipment. check gear cases too . All rotating gear should have lubrication points. I have on some equipment drilled and tapped for zerks my self.
Good luck
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:48 PM
 
Location: SC
8,382 posts, read 5,024,287 times
Reputation: 12029
A lawn mower has only one cylinder to "catch" and run. A car will have 4, 6, 8 or 12 times the opportunities for a cylinder to fire and then transfer that momentum while the others light - giving other cylinders a chance to fire. In addition, cars have electronic ignitions and fuel injection. I believe most mowers are still completely mechanical.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:44 PM
 
3,279 posts, read 3,756,513 times
Reputation: 6149
Quote:
Originally Posted by need4speed2012 View Post
Lack of maintenance plain and simple.
I don't care. I expect it to crank ANYWAY. That's my expectation and I'm sticking to it. Cars don't need that extreme amount of maintenance, why should mowers? I've got better things to do with my time than to all but quit my job and become the Lawnmower Whisperer. They should be like light bulbs--boom, on, INSTANTLY.
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Old 07-06-2014, 11:04 PM
 
3,279 posts, read 3,756,513 times
Reputation: 6149
Quote:
Originally Posted by fisheye View Post
Sometimes it is just carburetor adjustment. Sometimes it could be a indentation in the flywheel key. Or it could be a malfunctioning safety switch.

After you pull the cord a few times; remove the sparkplug. See if it is wet with gas. Then, without threading the plug back into the engine, reattach the sparkplug wire. Set the base of the sparkplug against your engine metal and pull the pull rope. You are looking to see if you see or hear any spark.

If your plug was not wet after pulling; you probably have carburetor problems. If you don't have a spark; you have electrical problems.

Either way; get back to me and maybe I can help?
If you're unable to help, it's okay, and I appreciate it just the same.

This one was one that was "ugly but works," and the guy selling it was able to get it working by removing the air filter, spraying the area with starter spray, and it would crank right up. (He said the "primer" bulb was broken and that was the way to get it working otherwise.) I did the same "rinse, lather, repeat" procedure, and it cranked up. Upon getting it home, same thing, it cranked.

Then, my wife hit something, probably high grass (but I don't know for SURE, it MAY have been a tree stump) and it shut off and no matter what, it refused to re-crank when it had on every other occasion that day. Then the starter cord snapped in two from my trying to pull on it so hard.

Someone mentioned how if you hit a root or rock etc then it throws off the flywheel or breaks a shaft or SOMETHING and then it won't re-start until it's fixed. While I myself take pains to avoid tree stumps etc, to me that's still silly. One of my favorite expressions dealing with lawnmowers is "just TAKE it," meaning I don't care if I hit 12 tree stumps/roots in a row (although I don't in reality), no matter, just TAKE it and keep on trucking. It's so easy for something like that to be concealed by grass and really, should that sort of thing just immediately knock you out of commission PERMANENTLY until you get it fixed? I want something that just TAKES it and keeps on going without whining. I've got a job to do and get done, I don't have much inclination to deal with this sort of thing so freaking often.

As cheap as I got this thing for ($10, yes, $10), I tend to think it's not worth fixing (especially with you having to remove the air filter and spray starter chemicals on it everytime you crank it, imagine how irritating that would become when it chokes off a lot in high grass). Then again it's self-propelled and one of those nicer 6 HP big-real-wheel types. Also, before anyone goes "it costs $10 you can't complain," well I'd agree except that it started every time at the guy's place with him AND with me and it started right up here as well before whatever happened, so that sort of set me up for expecting that to continue.
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:20 AM
eok
 
6,684 posts, read 2,946,432 times
Reputation: 8439
When I have trouble starting a lawn mower it's almost always because it wasn't primed enough or the engine was too hot. If it stalled from tall grass, the engine was probably too hot for it to start again. A sharper blade can help keep it from stalling. Also try attacking the tall grass at an angle. That is, push down on the handle by which you push the mower, to tilt the mower up. Cut the tall grass that way, then go over it again with the mower on the ground. But sometimes you just have to take a break while the engine cools.

If, on the other hand, it won't start when the engine is cold, try priming it more. Priming it more than recommended can sometimes make it work when it has problems such as parts that aren't clean enough inside, etc. But after you over-prime it (which you should only do when the engine is cold) you might have to crank it a lot to adjust the fuel air mixture to make it just right. You can tell that happened by smoke coming out when it finally starts.
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