This is a mechanized garden age the garden tractor, power mower, chain saw, weed-eater, backpack blower, water pump and stand-by generator are all taken as a matter of course. Yet, where would most of them be without the one-cylinder, air-cooled gasoline engine? Many gardeners and homeowners would be deprived of much of their pleasure were it not for this useful source of power.
But, gasoline engines can be frustrating and temperamental at times. Actually, they are not as bad as we sometimes think, but something always seems to “go wrong” just when we want the engine to be at its best.
There are a few simple things which the engine owner can do to prevent many frustrating moments when it fails.
First, when you bought your tractor or mower you received a manual with instructions for the care and maintenance of the engine. If this was lost or misplaced, it would be worth your while to write the manufacturer and get another or jump online and see if they have a downloadable manual in PDF format. Study this manual and follow it.
Regular care of the engine will certainly insure longer life for the engine and reduce repair bills. Here are a few things which should be put on the chore list:
- Keep the engine clean. Be sure to remove any foreign objects from the cooling fins as soon as they lodge there.
- Use only fresh, clean gasoline. If yours is a two-cycle engine, mix gasoline and oil precisely according to manufacturer’s directions. Use separate can for mixing and shake well before pouring fuel in tank.
- For safety’s sake, don’t pour fuel while engine is running or while you if you smoke. Also remove machine from lawn area or garden before filling.
- Check oil in crankcase of four-cycle engine. When working under dusty conditions, change oil more often – every very little is required.
- Check and clean air filter, especially if working under dusty conditions.
- Be careful when cranking.
Even with the best regular and seasonal care, operation difficulties are bound to develop. A good policy is to look for simple exterior troubles first; they are more likely to occur than complex, internal troubles. Any major repairs or rebuilding should be turned over to a competent service man. There are some simple things that can be done, though, which may solve the problem.
Failure or difficulty in starting can be caused by the following:
- No fuel in tank
- Open vent in gas cap
- Safety features stopping ignition
- Dirt in fuel line
- Improper fuel mixture (two-cycle)
- Spark plug cracked or fouled
- Throttle stuck closed
- Choke open or closed
- Breaker points worn or out of adjustment
- Magneto wet
- Poor insulation on wires
- Too much air in air cleaner
- Carburetor needle valve or float valve
Missing or skipping of engines could be caused by the following:
- Fouled or cracked spark plug
- Wrong spark gap
- Valves warped or burned
- Weak spark
- Poor compression
Overheating of engine could be caused by the following:
- Lack of oil
- Dirty engine
- Excessive friction
- Load too heavy
- Racing engine
Most people are not familiar with the operations or functions of the carburetor on the two-cycle engine. It is only necessary for the operator to know which adjustment controls the high speed operation of the engine, and which valve controls low-speed operation. These two valves are usually pointed out in the operator’s instruction booklet.
All engines are tested at the factory and operate satisfactorily when shipped. However, it may be possible that the purchaser may use the engine at a higher altitude than where the engine was manufactured, necessitating some adjustment. When used in a higher altitude, it is possible that the carburetor adjustment would have to be turned to increase the richness of the mixture.
Also, when the engine is used in cool weather – early spring or late fall – it will be necessary to increase the richness of the fuel mixture because the engine has been operated during better weather at the normal setting.
As a general precaution with all engines, loose screws, nuts or other fastenings should be checked and re-tightened as necessary. This includes the mounting screws which hold the engine to the mower or tractor. It is important that these be secured at all times or serious damage may result to the engine.