Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Winterize the lawn mower

Various things kept me from my own winter preparations in October, so on a chilly November afternoon I went out to winterize the lawn mower.

First I wanted to run it out of gas. I've heard conflicting advice on this. One school of thought says to get rid of all fuel in the system. The other says to fill it to the brim so the inevitable remaining fuel has less opportunity to absorb water from the air in the system with it. I've had good luck removing the fuel, so I keep doing it.

Since the mower had to be run anyway, I figured I could chew up and blow the leaves off where they had collected. This was after dumping a few bushels of them under the new porch to inhibit erosion where rainwater runs through the planking and off the steps onto the dirt below. Gutters and water bars eliminated roof runoff and any flow that might have developed across the yard, but a pesky runnel has remained. The telltale drip marks around it show the source of the water.

The mower is temperamental. It might go several times without a problem, but then it will simply refuse to start. Since your basic mower these days has some sort of solid state ignition and an automatic throttle, you can't tweak anything. You can only make sure it has fuel, that the spark plug is connected and undamaged, and yank away on the starter cord. When that yields nothing but fatigue, blisters and perhaps a nice pulled muscle it's really tempting to destroy the mower in some creative way and go buy a new one.

I discovered a solution by accident a couple of years ago. We had just about given up and decided to get a new mower when I gave it one more round of spark plug checking and air filter cleaning. This still did nothing. At a loss, I dropped to all fours to peer at the machine from its own level. Maybe I would notice something. Coincidentally, I looked like I was prostrating myself before it.

On the next try it started.

Since that time, whenever the mower has refused to start, whichever of us is trying to get it to go assumes the position. The mower starts.

Today was no exception. I thought I might have trouble since the mower had been sitting for at least a month in the shed, including some sub-freezing nights. Today is not exactly warm, and November's sun adds only a stabbing light, not a generous warmth. So, after several fruitless yanks on the cord, I got down on all fours, nodded my head, patted it encouragingly on top of the starter reel and pulled the cord. Vroom, off we went.

There are forces in the Universe that we do not understand. This lawn mower is definitely one of them.


Anonymous said...

I hope it also works for chainsaws

cafiend said...

My chain saw has been lying around congealing for about 8 years. It has no fuel in it, but the fuel in the can dates from back before the last time I fired up the saw. Your observation is timely, though, because I am considering tackling several inconvenient trees after a "cut for the wood" deal evaporated before anything got cut. I wasn't all that jacked about taking out 20-25 trees just to get rid of the 4 or 5 I really wanted removed.

I don't really enjoy chainsaw work that much. We'll see how many more years it takes me actually to get around to it.