Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Stinkin' Mower--June 24, 2010


Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  I was so tired again!!!  I’m not sure what it is, but I really, really need to get extra sleep!!!  I think being on my feet all day in the sun is just taking it out of me.  Oh well…

I ate a bowl of cereal, took a shower, then headed outside.  I went and checked out my front yard, and it’s just way too wet to do anything.  So I came back into the garage.  Basically, there is not a whole lot to do here, either!  Just fix that one last lawn mower…hmm.

I walked around aimlessly for a good bit, not sure what I was going to do.  The temperature was perfect…probably in the 70’s.  If only it hadn’t rained last night, I could probably finish up the front yard!!!  I was frustrated at that, but what are ya goin’ to do?!  That’s what a 20% chance of rain does in Illinois…it unleashes massive thunderstorms.

Dad showed up mid-morning, so I used his help to address this finicky lawn mower.  Last time I tried on my own, I determined that there was an air leak on the side of the carburetor.  Well, I had him the rope as I sprayed starting fluid on the side of the carburetor.  Nothing.  Hmm.  Scratch my previous idea!!!  Not to be outdone, though, I took my finger and covered up half of the air intake hole as Dad pulled the rope.  It fired right up!!!  And it stayed running with my finger over the hole.  Well, how about that.  Who knows how long this thing has been out of commission…and here it is running!!!

And that’s what it would do…as long as I kept my finger over the hole.  So it was getting too little fuel compared to the amount of air it was taking in.  I took it apart and cleaned the carb again just to make sure everything was good to go in there.  I also emptied the very old gas out of it.  It was pretty orange.  We eventually were able to get it to run with nothing over the intake hole, but it sounded terrible.  It just wasn’t getting enough fuel.  OR it was getting too much air.  However you wanted to look at it.  I had an idea, though.  I figured that if we put an air filter over it, then it would run fine.  The resistance to a solid stream of air would provide the same effect as me having my finger over half of the hole.  So I decided to try out my theory.

I grabbed a tiny foam filter off of my brother’s weed trimmer and went to set it over the intake hole.  And ZOOP!!!  One second it was in my hand, the other second it was gone.  Disappeared.  The engine then died.  Well, crap.  It had literally sucked the foam filter right out of my hand and into the hole.  And this filter was about 4x the size of the hole!  It was admittedly pretty surprising and comical, but I was worried that it had made it to the cylinder in the engine.  That would spell GAME OVER.  But I looked into the carb, and it appeared that the butterfly valve had stopped it.  Or at least part of it.  So I grabbed my claw tool to fish it out.  I got about half of it out, then took the carb off to get the other half.  It appeared I found it all.  I hoped so anyway.

I put the mower back together, and it ran like it had before.  Close call.

Well, so that we could progress a bit further in our fixing of this thing, we headed to Big R to get the final parts.  Another gasket, an air filter, and a new primer bulb.  The old just felt stiff.  Dad and stopped at Arby’s for lunch, then picked up the parts at Big R.  We also stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up more carb and choke cleaner and a battery for my garage door opener.  That Wal-Mart didn’t have the battery, so we stopped at the one closest to my house on the way back.

I installed the new primer bulb and the air filter, and I put it all back together.  It fired right up and stayed running no problems.  Sweet.  I went to test it out.  The wheels started to turn for a split second, then stopped.  Well, crap!  I tried again.  Same thing.  Again.  Same thing.  Something wasn’t right.  So we took apart the front-drive system and tried to figure out the problem.  Everything looked fine.  The belt was pretty loose, but it turned the pulley until I engaged the wheels.  Hmm.  After racking our brains for quite awhile, we determined that the belt itself was just too loose.

So we headed to True Value to pick up a new one.  I was shocked to find out that new ones were $15.89!!!  Yikes.  I already have $19.00 in this mower, and I’m not even sure that this would do the trick!  I might only be able to get $35.00 out of it.  Oh well.  It’s worthless as is.  No one wants a broken mower.  So we picked up the belt, then came back to install it.  As I was installing it on the crankshaft, though, I noticed that that pulley spun freely.  It was not attached to the spinning of the engine.  That is most certainly not good.  Not how it is supposed to function!

So after a closer inspection, we found out that a hex key had come loose.  And it was so rusty in there that it was impossible to get out.  Oh boy.  I tried, but the head just stripped.  It was getting late in the day, though, so Dad headed home around 4:30.  I tried to get that stinking hex key out but couldn’t do it.  I needed some screw extraction tools.

So around 5:15 I loaded up the mower and headed to Mom and Dad’s house.  I grabbed the tools and tried to get it out.  Nothing.  The head broke from the rust.  Hmm.  So I tried drilling it out.  Still nothing.  I drilled a hole all the way down, but the rest of it stayed in there.  This was not good.

But on a fluke accident, I moved a plastic guard and noticed that there was a space for a flywheel key.  I rotated the metal piece I had been working on and also noticed a spot for a key.  Well, there you go.  Just a couple of hours earlier, I had mentioned to Dad that there is no way this hex key could keep this thing spinning.  It HAD to have a flywheel key.  But our eyes were blinded by what we saw, so we just worked and worked on getting this hex key out.

Well, after realizing my mistake, I beat and beat and beat…and beat some more…on getting the blade holder off.  It was pretty stuck on there.  After much WD-40 and pounding, I finally got it off.  Now it was time for the easy part.  I slid off the plastic guard, slid off the pulley, grabbed a flywheel key, put it in the groove, then slid everything else back up.  Done.  Perfect.

I celebrated with a  spaghetti meal cooked by Dad.

I stayed there about an hour, then came back home to FINALLY be done with this thing.  I put it all back together, started it up, and mowed my front yard with it.  The engine, the front-drive system, everything all worked perfectly.  It even left me with “baseball stripes” in my hard.  It has a great cut!

I also used the old belt after realizing my mistake.  So I STILL only have $19.00 in this thing.  Three days’ worth of work, but in terms of anti-boredom, it’s worth more than that to me.  I listed it on craigslist for $50.00 around 9:00 P.M.  We’ll see what happens.

I talked to a friend this evening, then took a hot bath.  I RARELY take hot baths, but I needed one.  I got out and lie in my bed for a short bit.  Well, it lasted longer than I expected it to.  I think I fell asleep around 10:30.

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