10 Top Tips For Looking After Your Mower, Chainsaw, Leaf Blower or Trimmer.
There is much you can do to save yourself a trip to the mower shop because your mower, Leaf blower, trimmer or chainsaw will not start.
Stale fuel is the biggest killer of small engines. Both 4 stroke and 2 stroke engines need fresh fuel to start and run reliably. So leaving the engine sitting in the garage or shed for weeks or months with fuel in the tank and carburettor will only end in tears of frustration as you try to start the equipment.
The volatile components of the fuel evaporate over time leaving a sticky residue which can wreck the delicate internals of the carburettor. Not only that, but there is often a residual amount of water in the fuel which attacks the fuel system causing corrosion and damage to the carburettor.
Prevention is better than the cure in this case. Simply make sure that you drain the fuel tank and run the carburettor (engine) dry if you are going to leave the equipment unused for any length of time. Be sure to use the fuel in the tank as soon as possible, maybe in another piece of equipment. But you must get fresh fuel for your engine before you use it again.
You might end up disposing of (safely) a few dollars worth of stale petrol but it will be much cheaper and easier than a trip to the mower shop. Always use regular unleaded fuel, not premium or any fuels with Ethanol.
Ignition systems these days are inherently reliable, however a fouled spark plug can sometimes be the reason an engine will not start. A number of issues will cause plug fouling, in a 4 stroke engine it can be due to a worn engine, carbon build up, oil from the crankcase (if say a mower is tipped on its side or over filled with oil).
In a two stroke a fouled plug is usually caused by flooding the engine due to an incorrect starting procedure, or from an incorrect fuel/oil mixture (too much oil in the petrol).
In most cases removing and cleaning the spark plug can get you going again, with fresh fuel of course.
If your air filter is blocked with dirt then the fuel mixture will be rich and this can cause the plug to foul, making the engine difficult to start. The air filter is normally the easiest item to maintain on any small engine and can often be removed without any tools and either cleaned/washed or replaced.
If your air filter is damaged or missing altogether then you are putting at risk the reliability of the engine as dirt, dust and sand accumulate in the carburettor and in the engine oil, very quickly wearing out your engine. So check and clean your air filter frequently, don’t wait until the engine fails or just won’t start.
Two stroke engines need the correct fuel oil mixture to start and run easily, a good quality low smoke synthetic oil is best. It will allow you to run with a higher fuel oil ratio up to 50:1, running cleaner and starting easier, eliminating plug fouling issues.
In four stroke engines oil is equally important, use a good quality SAE 30 in most air cooled mower engines. Always check your oil level before you start your engine, it could save you $$$.
Now if you are keen to change your own mower blades, remember to always tip your mower back and never on its side, keep the spark plug pointing up. If you tip to the side oil will find its way into the engine combustion chamber resulting in a wetted out air filter and a fouled spark plug at best, and a hydraulic lock at worst when you can’t even pull the engine over.
If your mower is fitted with a fuel tap, always remember to turn it off when not in use. If you don’t there is a possibility that the fuel will drain from the tank and flood into the engine, mixing with the oil. This will dilute the oil and can result in severe engine damage (if you can start the engine). If this happens the engine will need to be drained of oil, flushed and refilled, and a new oil filter installed – an expensive exercise on a ride on mower.
In addition to the potential engine problems noted above, you need to look after the saw chain and bar if you want to avoid a trip to the shop. So here are a few tips:
- Always run with a correctly tensioned chain.
- Always use a good quality bar oil and fill the tank every fuel stop.
- Avoid cutting into the dirt.
- Avoid cutting timber that has termites (they introduce dirt into the timber).
- Avoid cutting burnt charcoal timber.
- Avoid overloading the bar and running with a blunt chain.
- Regularly touch up/sharpen your chain as you work.
Mower blades for both Walk Behind Lawn Mowers and Ride-on Mowers can be tricky to change out and you really need to be confident in your abilities and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Serious damage and or injury can result if you fail to follow these instructions.
However if you do want to change your own blades the best tip is to use a pneumatic or battery torque wrench with the appropriate sockets. On a walk behind mower, remove the blade disc first from the mower, then remove and replace the blades on a workbench. And as mentioned above, always tip the mower backwards and keep the spark plug at the top to avoid oil seeping into the combustion chamber and air filter.
For Ride-on Mowers you need easy access to the underdeck and so that you can get the wrench in.
SAFETY – always isolate the engine when working on the blades – turn off the ignition and remove the spark plug lead. Wear safety glasses especially if you are under a mower deck. And never work under a mower on a jack, use axle stands or a specially designed hydraulic lift.
Installing Trimmer Line to a Bump Head can be tricky and frustrating with some models of Bump Head or Speed Feed Head. If you are having problems then take your time and read the instructions, if you have lost the manual just go online and a quick search will bring up the information you need.
Tip – for longer trimmer line life drop the line in a bucket of water overnight before you fit it to the bump head.
Hedge Trimmers, in addition to the potential engine problems noted above, we see many hedge trimmers that are hard to start simply because the blades are stuck together. It is easy to avoid this issue by cleaning the blades immediately after you have used the hedge trimmer.
We recommend spraying the blades with a safe biodegradable lubricant like Inox and then free running the blades to spread the lubricant. Stop the engine and then wipe off any excess oil, and your trimmer will be ready to go next time you need it. Inox will not damage your hedge or vegetation unlike petroleum based lubricants.
Buying smart is probably the best thing you can do to avoid an unplanned trip to your mower shop. So what do we mean by buying smart? Well first of all buying from a Mower Shop like Ellenbrook Mowers gives you many advantages over buying online or from a hardware store.
We pre deliver your equipment, that is we assemble it, add fuel and oil, and start and run it to ensure that it will do what it is supposed to do, like start first time for example.
Then we take the time to show you over your new purchase. With Chainsaws we will show you how to start it, all the safety features, how to adjust and sharpen the chain, and we can also supply you with all the accessories and safety equipment that you need. And of course we provide you with full manufacturer’s warranty plus service and support when you need it.
With Mowers we do a similar thing, making sure that you can start mowing as soon as you get home.
Trimmer heads – you will leave our shop an expert in the operation of the trimmer head and how to change the line.
Leaving the store with a quality product, knowing how use it and look after it means that you will spend more time in the garden and less time working on it and travelling to the Mower Shop.
Ellenbrook Mowers, located at Perth, where you get much more than just a box.