9/02/2010

Hundred Dollar Mowers

I had been looking to buy an old riding mower for my lawn and i finally bought one, well actually i bought 2. They are the same model but the second one is just for parts. It's engine was in pieces in a cardboard box. I got them on craigslist both for $100 which is way cheaper then any riding mower you can find. People usually want around $250 for one, so i could always sell them for at least double. The good mower even has a bagger for grass and leaves in the fall.
snapper mower, craigslist, parts, riding mower, bagger
The reason that they were cheap is that neither of them ran. The guy said that the one did last year but now it doesn't start. A likely story. I don't know a lot about engines, but keeping it simple all you need to know is:
fuel, spark & compression

So i started reading online about some common problems people have had. This website is by an old motorcycle mechanic who tells you basically everything you need to know about working on motorcycle engines. Dan's MC It's mainly motorcycle related and i've used it before, but the information is good for any small engines too. He always says, "take you're time and don't panic." Like my motorcycle i figured the worst thing that could happen would be for it to burst into a ball of flames and i'd be out a hundred bucks. So
i got started trying to fix it.

It was getting fuel, i cleaned out the carburetor
lawn mower carburetor, riding mower, 8HP engine
It was getting spark, i checked it on the side of the engine.
how to check that engine has spark, spark plug, engine block
It was getting 60-70 pounds of compression which isn't great, but should be enough.
check engine compression, gauge, compression tester
I tried spraying starting fluid in the cylinder... nope.
Cleaned out the head and valves, which were a little dirty... still nothing.
clean valves and head, engine block, riding mower
So after 4 days i was ready to take the engine completely apart, since i didn't know what else to do, but then i thought about the Timing.

A couple of days before i realized that someone had changed the points and condensers with an electronic ignition. The points were in a plastic jar.
parts, how to fix a riding mower, snapper, extra parts
I had actually seen the problem 2 days ago but with my limited knowledge i didn't notice it. There's a metal wedge/pin which locks the crank shaft to the flywheel. There should be only 1 of those metal wedges. I wasn't smart enough to realize that my engine had 2. It used to be 1 but must have sheared in half, usually after someone runs over a rock or stump. Those are the 2 metal pieces on top. See how the 2 cut-outs in the center of the shaft and wheel don't line up.
timing pin, fly wheel, shear pin
So i went downstairs, cut an old allen wrench in half, lined up the marks, put it in there and tada, it started right up.
install timing pin, fly wheel, electronic ignition
The pin holds everything in place and makes sure that it sparks at just the right time, the problem i had was that it was sparking randomly because the wheel was slipping.

Another cool thing about the mowers is that they can be stood on end during the winter for storage, saving space. So hopefully this will be the end of me raking leaves and push mowing. Although i drove it around the yard a bit and it was a scary ride and might be tough to mow in tight corners.
snapper riding mower, for sale, buy on craigslist, bagger, 8HP
2 riding mowers for sale, bagger, snapper, hi-vac

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