How To Fix A Lawn Mower

How To Fix A Lawn Mower

If you’re like me, and I know you are….you probably have relegated the old lawn mower from home to the cottage as the cottage grass cutter. You bought a new one for home and took the old Lawnboy lawnmower to the cottage, because…well you can’t afford to buy two lawn mowers and the one that was at the cottage is 100 years old.

Well if you are like me when you’re at the cottage, you probably have important things to do like fishing, swimming and boating or just sitting on your cottage deck, in an adirondack chair, watching a trout catch flies in the lake.

All of these things are far more important than doing some maintainance on an old lawn mower.

Of course you know what that means…c’mon don’t try to fool me…you know what happens. When your darling wife gets on your back about cutting the grass and you finally give in and agree to do it the old lawn mower won’t start. So now you have two choices. Forget it and go back to watching the trout, or try to get it going, yup, you are going to need to know how to fix a lawnmower.

Of course that usually means you pull on it until you collapse on the ground clutching your chest, figuring the paramedics will never make it on time to save you. You’re right, they probably won’t….so the moral of the story is, this type of thing is to be avoided….

Here’s a little tip. If your lawn mower won’t start after three or four pulls. Stop. Check some stuff like:
1) Is there gas the tank? Is it fresh? One of the first problems with small engines is stale gas, make sure the gas is fresh.
2) Is the gas turned on? Some mowers have a shut off for the gas. Turn it on.
3) Is the spark plug wire attached to the spark plug?

If all of the above is as it should be and it won’t start, you have two more choices:

1) Stand there looking at it until your neighbor comes over, you know, like my buddy Bob, who is never afraid to tear something apart and figure out what is wrong with it….hopefully you won’t have to stand and stare at it too long before he arrives.

2) If your neighbor isn’t feeling neighborly, you’ll have to take charge of the situation yourself. So for starters, find a spark plug wrench and remove the spark plug. Look it over.

Is the end that goes inside the mower black and oily, or is is white and flaky? Either way, it may need to be replaced. But if you are like me, if you haven’t got a new plug on hand, and you are too lazy to go to the general store
Hell, they probably wouldn’t have one to fit it anyway. So do the next best thing.

Get a wire brush and a little sandpaper. Gently scrub the end of the spark plug (the end that goes in the mower) with the wire brush until it gets shiny. Then take the sandpaper and slip it between the little curved end on the plug (I wish i had a picture…it’s actually called the ground electrode) (The flat post in the middle is called the center electrode)and shine them up a little.

Be careful not to move the curved end,(ground electrode) because it will have to be re-gapped if that happens. (more about that later)

3) With the plug still out of the, pour just a little bit of gas, like a thimble full into the place where the spark plug goes. Put the spark plug back into the lawn mower, connect the plug wire.

4) Do what ever you have to do to your particular mower to start it, meaning, turn up the throttle, open the gas, and give the starter cord a pull or two. It should start, it may run rough for a few minutes, just let it warm up before you start mowing. If you do the above and the lawn mower still doesn’t start…go have a beer….sit on the porch…watch the trout jumping and wait for Bob….

Oh yeah, I did say something about the ‘gap’ didn’t I? The gap is the distance between the center electrode and the ground electrode. Spark plugs are gapped differently depending on the plug and the use.

You need a little tool to measure the gap, some folks call them “feeler gauges” or “spark plug gappers” I like the little round one myself, like this Spark Plug Gauge GapI find it easier to read the gap markings with my aging eyes.

Read your owners manual to find out what the proper gap is for your lawn mower, chances are, the plug is already set at the right gap. But if it isn’t you slide the gap tool in to the right measurement on the tool, push down on the ground electrode of pull up a smidgen to set the plug to the right gap. When it’s tight, it right.

For example, suppose the gap of your machine is 0.30 What I do is close the gap a little bit by bending the ground electrode over, then slide the gap tool in and force it gently open to the correct gap. Still don’t know what I am talking about?

You will see what I mean when you have the little gap tool and the plug in your hand.

Or if you are impatient, and I know you are, here is a link to a picture of a spark plug

If you run through those steps and the small engine is still obstinate, it likely means you have some nasty carbon buildup in the carburator. Actually, it’s not just carbon it’s varnish, caused by gas that has dried and turned gummy. You’re going to need to clean that up before it will start.

Let me say right now, that can be very difficult to do, and you’re gonna get into problems if you have to start tearing the carburator apart. That seldom works as we hope….Hopefully you can loosen it up if you spray a little Sea Foam in the spark plug socket, and in the carburator. Let it soak for a few minutes before giving the motor another try.

Sea Foam will help clean the carburator and add a little extra oomph to the spark ignition. The motor may run a little dirty at first, let it run, that is cleaning out the carbon build up. If you can reach in with a tooth brush and gently scrub the varnish, without dismantling the carb, you might be alright.

Trust me, if I can figure this out, you can.

Thanks for visiting my cottage chronicles! Good Luck with your Lawn Mower.

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