Thursday, September 16, 2010

Low Carbs

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I got my lawnmower repaired at Blanco Fix-It.
(Just north of Basse Rd.)
It was running rough and dying, and after I ruled out a clogged air filter and old sparkplug, the only thing left is a clogged or worn-out carburator.
After 6 years, a rebuild seemed like a good idea anyway.

All the small local shops got terrible reviews in my limited Googling, but Blanco Fix-It got raves, so it seemed like a smart choice.
I was impressed by how many mowers and weedwhackers I could see in the just-dropped-off area, and by the huge number waiting for pickup.
The parts shelves area was pretty big, too.
I figured there must be ten people working there, but when I asked the owner today she told me it was just her working the front, her husband fixing the mowers, and a third person handling the weeders.
It was a pleasant surprise when she called me 2 days after I dropped mine off to tell me it was ready. Terrific service. Just DON'T lose your ticket!

After 10" of rain from Tropical Storm Hermine, my grass and weeds really needed some work:

They replaced my almost new sparkplug, rebuilt the carb, and thankfully replaced the priming bulb which had gotten rather soft and didn't work too well anymore.
Well worth $55 in my book.
The nice lady also told me the dirty little secret of small engines.
Would you like me to share it?

75-80% of their business is due to people using old gasoline, and by old she meant more than a week out of the pump!
She said it starts to break down, and damages the carb diaphragm and other parts.
I'm not sure if I buy into that all the way, but on the other hand, why not?
What I did on the way home, on her advice, was stop at my gas station and fill the tank enough for this week's cutting, then put the other couple of dollars in my truck. (It helps that my Dodge takes regular unleaded just like the mower--my old Honda Prelude only took Premium).
I'm going to pour the remainder of my gas can into the truck, too.
Then I'm going to buy the smallest gas can they make.
When it's time to cut grass again I'm going to put around 10-12 ounces in it for the mower, which is enough to cut the front, back, side, and alley.
I'll let you know it it extends the life of my carb in around 7 years.

The severe damage from two years of drought is almost healed.
Where there's grass, the dead spots have filled back in.
Where there are weeds (I call it ground cover to make myself feel better) there's solid weeds with no dirt visible anymore.
Luckily, the "ground cover" is in the rear of our huge backyard, so you really can't tell when looking out the window--it's all a lush green expanse of barefoot friendly goodness.
I'm really glad we have St. Augustine because whenever the rain returns it sends out runners to reclaim territory, then always succeeds in dominating the weeds.
Always liked it better than Bermuda or Fescue, because it's an Alpha grass that takes no crap from anyone.
The clover patches got choked to death in July. I'm the only witness and am keeping my trap shut.

I'm officially an old man now.
Nobody else would talk so much about mowers and lawns and think it was interesting to anyone else.


Albatross said...

Welcome to Curmudgeonland. Now, after you mow the lawn, yell at others to keep off it!

Seriously, though, I wouldn't worry about the age of your gas that much. I keep a gallon container in my garage just for lawnmower gas, and when it runs out, I get another gallon (about once a season; I don't have a big yard). I don't worry about how long it sits, and my mower has been running fine for at least 10 years. I had to replace the primer bulb once, but that's only because I tried using gas conditioner in my gasoline to keep it fresh! The bulb got squishy and leaked, and the repair guy I took it to said to never use the stuff. Just use gas straight from the pump.

That was about eight years ago, and my primer bulb is still in good shape.

Keith Alan K said...

"And pull up your damn pants! Stupid kids!"

But seriously, I found it hard to believe that gas could degrade so quickly, but then it's made for modern cars and trucks, not lawnmowers.
Having to rebuild the carb after 6-7 years is no big deal, but I wonder why she would tell me this if it didn't have a grain of truth. Hitting on me?
I have a 2 gallon can and like you, it would last me most of the season, and I wouldn't think twice about topping it off the next spring.
But it's not much of a hardship to buy less gas at a time and try to use it all, so I'm going to be the guinea pig on this theory--at least until I decide it's a pain in my ass.
I think I need an oil change, though--can't believe they didn't do one and hit me for another $20 since I pretty much gave them free reign.
And I need a new blade, since my last one only went 3 weeks before I hit a solid steel caster that time travelled from the '60s and materialized (and levitated!) out of the rotted stump of a tree I cut down years ago. I can feel that it's no longer balanced, and the plan is to replace, then resharpen and balance the almost-new one at my leisure.

KenKzak said...

It's the high Ethanol content in most gasolines these days. Highly prone to evaporation leaving a sludgier remainder. More important is that it's very bad for rubber components, like primer buttons.
Automotive fuel injection systems don't give a shit.
I've had to clean out my mower carb twice this season.
My motorcycle gets premium only as a rule these days.