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Spring Time!

04/20/2017 5:02 PM

For those of us who live in the snow belt that time of the year has arrived, time to fight with lawn mowers that do not want to start. That is the time that arose while I was at my daughter's house this afternoon.

It is a nice mower. Craftsman, not very old, 5.25 HP Briggs & Stratton engine. I like B. & S. engines. There was a time when nearly all Sears mowers had Tecumseh engines. Twice in the distant past I had mowers with Tecumseh engines. Both of these mowers hated me. They would be running fine until I shut them off for whatever reason. When I went to restart them the pull cord came part way out and the engines locked up nearly ripping my arm from my shoulder. Mowers with Tecumseh engines are a great excuse to go buy another mower. But...I digress.

Standing there watching my daughter press in the prime bulb the specified number of times she proceeded to pull the cord several times without result. Indicating for her to pause her efforts I proceeded to take hold of the mower's handle and pressed it all the way to the ground with my left hand. After counting off five seconds with my right hand I returned the mower to it's normal position, (all four wheels on the ground), and giving one pull the mower roared to life. Being the respectful daughter she is she turned to her mother and said, "I warmed it up for him"! Ignoring the barb I proceeded to tell her, "Don't ask me why it works, (I really don't care why it works). Don't ask me how I know it works, (don't remember what possessed me to try it the time I did oh so many years ago), and, you won't find this technique in any lawn mower manuals. It just plain works".

There are no questions raised here today. I offer only three bits of advice: Electric start riding mowers are fantastic. Pull start mowers that resist starting usually respond favorably to pushing the handle all the way to the ground for five seconds, (don't ask don't tell), and, depending on which company made the engine on your mower, I hope your shoulder survives.

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#1

Re: Spring Time!

04/20/2017 5:09 PM

I assume if the bell is dinging , it's working....?

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#2

Re: Spring Time!

04/20/2017 5:12 PM

I cut my grass last year, I'll get around to it again sometime, no rush.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Spring Time!

04/20/2017 6:06 PM

It's been raining here for the last 3 months, I was going to cut it last week, now I have no choice, it's like it exploded, I have to cut my grass this weekend....

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: Spring Time!

04/20/2017 11:45 PM

What my fiancee's lawn typically looks like by the time she gets round to mowing it.

The last time she mowed it, she found a thriving community of renegade circus midgets in the side yard.

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#21
In reply to #7

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 5:35 PM

What is that women doing in my yard???

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 9:35 PM

Hope she lets you know when she comes across your 63 chevy....

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 10:09 PM

Somehow I think she's the least of your worries ...

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#26
In reply to #23

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 3:03 AM

I have a can of spray for those.

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#29
In reply to #26

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 10:37 AM

A flamethrower is more fun.

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#4

Re: Spring Time!

04/20/2017 7:42 PM

Your "move" shifts the level of the gas in the carburetor's bowl, causing the float to drop, which allows/forces the needle valve to "unstick" from its seat, thereby letting the fresh fuel to enter the bowl, dissolve the gunk, clean the orifice, and pass into the intake tube.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Spring Time!

04/20/2017 10:02 PM

Or maybe it dumps a bunch of fuel down the intake? I make sure I run my carb dry at the end of the season. Starts right up on the first pull in the spring.

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#6
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Re: Spring Time!

04/20/2017 11:41 PM

A mechanic friend who just fixed a mower for me told me that 'trick'. Last year I made the mistake of adding one of those 'preservative' additives to the gas at the end of the season. Needless to say, this Spring it wouldn't start.

He said just use non-ethanol gas and run the mower dry at the end of mowing season. (I easily found a gas station near me with non-ethanol gas via a quick google search.)

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#8

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 6:22 AM

Gardens around here are a bit smaller than the prairies of the north island of the Americas:

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#9

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 8:14 AM

The main reason seasonal machines will not start is improper storage when put away for the winter. Drain the gas and run the engine until it stalls, at a minimum. Put fresh gas in in the spring. Read the owners manual to find what the procedure is for your machine.

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#17
In reply to #9

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 12:43 PM

That can be one explanation but I've seen mowers that were used a few weeks ago that still like to be started this way once in a while.

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#18
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Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 2:03 PM

I do not disagree that your "move" could be breaking loose something that prevents fuel flow.

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#10

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 8:58 AM

I appreciate the advice. We have a good Craftsman mower too. Starts fine for my husband. Me? I pump the prime button, pull, nothing. I decided that part of my problem is that I'm on the short side, and I can't get a good angle of the pull cord. I've socked myself in the jaw more than twice yanking on mower cords.

I personally think the answer is having goats come by once a week but Mr. Best in Show doesn't agree . Or eliminating grass altogether in favor of low-growing ground cover, like creeping thyme. My opinion of turf grass as ground cover is well-documented.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 9:18 AM

You could have goats or sheep.

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 12:26 PM

Goats are great, except they like to perch on the roof of your car.

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#16
In reply to #10

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 12:38 PM

My lassie (daughter) has all manner of animals, and is farming organically now in SE Virginia, I wish her all the best, far better than I ever did with it.

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#24
In reply to #10

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 2:56 AM

You have reminded me of a trick that I was shown many years ago, (we have electric mowers for many years, only a small lawn!), which I had quite forgotten, which might even be applicable:-

Holding the handle say half down, at the same time pulling on the starting cord, which may only be possible for right handed people.....

I wonder if it has "bits" of several pieces of good advice in it from here? Though I did not know that till today......not a clue....

Though I have to admit (maybe we have better fuel here/then and it was before they added alcohol!), I left the fuel in over winter and it ran perfectly on last year's fuel!!

The only part I always did with mowers when first getting them, which might help some here, (nobody else has mentioned it yet!!, But its vitally important!!) was to adjust the fuel mixture, while keeping an eye on plug condition and colour.

Many (all?) were set up from the factory to leave a "sooty" plug, or a far too rich a mixture, which soon gives up the ghost and needs both cleaning and making really hot with a gas flame, when it starts working properly again.....or simply buy a new plug to use for setting up is probably best.

Leaning out the mixture till the plug runs clean for a whole "cut",(we always had 4 stroke mowers, but the advice might also help any with 2 stroke engines, maybe even more important for them!!), really did a great job.....

I even used Synthetic oil in them (4 stroke only!), but this was mainly because I had it to hand, it did not seem to make any real difference that I noticed, even though it was thinner.....

Once the mixture was set, it would run "clean" for years and my wife (of no arm strength at all!) could start the mower on the first pull, except the first usage after winter, when it needed "two"!! I lie not!!

Sadly she gave it away and went electric without even asking me - her problem!! I was REALLY irritated....

BTW I am not a Gardner......

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#12

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 9:50 AM

I too have used "the move" when I am sure the gas has been there more than a month with the "thing beast" sitting out idle in the rain and snow (I pretend not to care).

This causes the water at the bottom of the gas to move aside, at least allowing a bit of gas to get into the carb the next few pulls. Since those days, I have started using some of the new fuel additives that help disperse the water, and prevent gums from sticking critical flow parts in the fuel system. Both mowers started on first pull this season!

I even put the drive belt back on my 45 year old Snapper self-propelled. The gear box was hanging up the left rear wheel, so I put in some transmission fluid to loosen things up, and disperse some of the sludge. It worked, except I still have not been able to get rear wheels to roll backward. It is a real pain to pick up the mower to move it backward while running, and it chafes my arms. LOL

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#25
In reply to #12

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 3:00 AM

Funnily enough, I used to add some alcohol to remove water tn the fuel (I expect its not needed nowadays with E10!!), to pick up small amounts of water and carry it through the engine.....cars I mean!!!

"We" here have given such advice before......

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#13

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 12:17 PM

If only just getting a lawn mower running and mowing the lawn was my only spring project concern right now....

I might have my 'spring work' done by August if stuff goes well this year.

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 12:36 PM

You folks up north have to lay up hay for the beasties to enjoy during winter, right?

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 2:12 PM

Yes. We do prairie grass hay so that work doesn't start until around mid July.

To which I have a round baler that needs a full overhaul done it before then as well.

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#20

Re: Spring Time!

04/21/2017 3:27 PM

You do have fresh gasoline don't you? A 2 cycle engine will not start until the gasoline is fresh - I drain my tanks every spring and re-fill, even with Sta-Bil.

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#27

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 6:33 AM

Sitting idle all winter gives the rings and valves time to gum up and become frozen. A few good pulls should warm the oil slightly and then by lowering the handle to the ground the oil can flow up the cylinder bore to lubricate it and form a better seal with the piston. Also the oil can reach the valve stems to lubricate them. Small engine valves are notorious for sticking over winter. These problems are much reduced with two stokes. I also found the T engine to give the same problem of seizing on a pull but never a B&S or a Honda .

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#28

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 10:35 AM

I, too, had a sears lawn mower which would seem to spawn "jellyfish" in the gas left in the tank overwinter. If I didn't syphon them out before cranking, they would clog the carb and not let gas through. Now I have a battery-powered mower which does a fine job of cutting and mulching even when the grass is 6" high and typically Pacific Northwest wet. One charge usually is sufficient for my small (10,000 square foot) lawn but a recharge just takes the same time as a lunch break--I have two batteries so that gives me no excuse to take a break.

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#30

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 12:04 PM

I have a rototiller that is about 40 years old with a 5 horse B&S engine. I have never drained the gas or used Stabil or run it dry. It has not been used every year either, and doesn't have a priming bulb, but has a pull choke. It can be hard to start the first time in the spring. What works is putting some fresh gas in the tank, taking off the air filter, and giving it a shot of starting fluid down the carburetor. After the first start, put the air cleaner back on and use the choke.

My lawn mower with electric start usually doesn't crank fast enough, so I have to use the pull cord, at least at first.

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#32
In reply to #30

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 2:53 PM

We also had a rototiller with. B&S. it never saw and form of gas stabilization only due to it was old when I was 8-10 years old. Where you'd wrap a rope arounded it and pull to start it.

it was fairly reliable. And as I was growing up, It was pretty common for us 'kids' to remove the motor and put it on our inventions or projects.

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#31

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 1:21 PM

My last lawn mower was a Frigedaire, yes the refrigerator people. I bought it at Meijer and paid $99.99 for it in 1998. It had a Briggs and Stratton 4.5 hp engine. I had to retire it at the end of 2015, after 17 years the deck was so rusty, I could not keep the engine mounted.

In 2011, I hit a piece of concrete with it and bent the shaft, and ripped the engine out of the holes. I re-drilled new holes, remounted the engine at a 20 degree angle, replaced the blade and used it for another 4 years. The vibrations from the bent shaft were brutal.

The only other things that I did to it was replace the air filter twice (cleaned it every year), spark plug once (again cleaned it every year with a wire brush), and replace the pull cord numerous times. I had to replaced the gas line and primer bulb once. I never drained the gas, never changed the oil (added a couple of times).

It always started for the first time in the spring, within 3 pulls.

I will never have another mower like that, it still ran fine when I scrapped it, just wasn't working well with the engine trying to spin in the deck.

I still have the Ryobe 2 stroke weed wacker I bought the same year, again I don't drain the gas, and just replaced the fuel line and primer bulb.

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#33
In reply to #31

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 4:39 PM

That reminded me of the trailer I used to have. It was made from the back of an old P/U truck with a frame and tongue welded to the front of it. Hitched it up and took off forgetting about the lawn mower hiding under it. Ran right over the mower smashing the stamped steel deck. Had a non-running mower, ("T" engine), on a cast deck. Took the B & S engine I had just run over and swapped it onto the cast deck. Mowed on for many years. All I had to do was straighten the screen on the top of the engine a little.

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#34

Re: Spring Time!

04/22/2017 6:05 PM

I sold my last lawn mower along with the snow blower when I sold my last house. I bought a condo and now, every week the maintenance crew comes to mow the lawn. That is, when the are not here to clear the snow. However, my bottle opener always opens my beer on the first pull.

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#37
In reply to #34

Re: Spring Time!

04/24/2017 9:41 AM

Now you are just bragging!

I did the "move" on my B&S lawn mower engine this weekend when it failed to start after three pulls, and it worked to my amazement! What bothers me is this was third start-up of the season.

I have another problem with this 45 year old Snapper self-drive. The gear box was locking up on one side only, and I put some transmission fluid in it to loosen it up. It solved the one wheel lock up, but it did not solve the problem with both wheels locking during the back-up roll. I need to go back to my files wherein I have the owner's manual and the complete repair guide and exploded parts view and study.

Any clues? Need new gearbox?

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#35

Re: Spring Time!

04/23/2017 4:50 PM

Well, today was my turn, time to put away the snow blower and bring out the mowers. The S.B. has an 11 HP Briggs Intek Engine. Not started for probably 5-7 weeks. Started with one pull, warmed up, oil changed, siphoned out almost all the gas and one pull to start again for burning off the remaining gas.

Mower #1, Craftsman I bought new back around 2000. 6.75 HP Briggs engine, no idea when the oil was last changed. Changed the oil, filled with gas, started first pull. (Used to be my favorite mower, then came #2).

#2 was left by the side of the road by a neighbor last year with hopes someone would come along an take it away. Craftsman with a 6.25 HP Briggs motor that won't bog down and a decent self propel mechanism. It cost me a new blade, spark plug, oil change and the time to soak the bolt in the bottom of the float chamber in muriatic acid but the thing runs and mows fantastic. Filled with fresh gas it also started on the first pull.

Then came #3. Lowest priced model at a local hardware store about 6 years ago with a 5 HP Briggs motor. Oil last changed maybe 3 years back. Took 3 pulls to start and after about a minute started running rough. Had to take extra time with it to clean out the badly plugged foam air filter. Of course this is the hardest one to start, it is the one my wife uses and she does not have much pull power so usually I have to start it for her.

All three mowers were run dry before putting them away last year.

I found the following on a Briggs & Stratton website, some of you will find it of interest: One the larger advantages of a synthetic is it has a broader range of temperatures where it should be used. A synthetic 5W-30 provides the best protection between -20 to 120° F (-18 to 38° C). I use and recommend Briggs and Stratton Synthetic Oil (Part# 100074WEB), as it is designed specifically for small engines on lawnmowers, tractors, generators, pressure washers, & outdoor power equipment. It can be purchased on our website or at your local Authorized Briggs & Stratton Dealer. If you are looking at other brands, make sure that somewhere on the label it states the oil meets or exceeds ILSAC GF-2, has an API certification, and lists “SJ/CF Energy Conserving” or higher before purchasing. 5qts. of Castrol for about $23 at wally world and I can use it in all of the mowers and the snow blower!

Now for a brief note about the OP. It was written with the hopes of making you laugh. In exchange some of the responses were also written on the lighter side. Thanks for the laughs!

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#36
In reply to #35

Re: Spring Time!

04/23/2017 5:32 PM

Well I just cut my grass, a Yard Machines with a Briggs and Stratton engine. I bought it at the end of the 2015 season for half the price, it was a demo at The Home Depot.

I did not drain the gas, I left it full. 6 pushes on the primer bulb and it started on the first pull.

I cut my grass and watched my neighbor trying to start hers, she drained the gas and ran it dry per her ex-husbands recommendation. I could not start it either. She used mine to cut her lawn...

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