Lawnmower Man

It’s been raining for a while. Add together 18 hours of daylight every day and constant watering and the lawns are a rabbit buffet that will never run out. I need more rabbits.

Today wasn’t too bad so I wheeled out the lawnmower. A petrol one, Briggs and Stratton engine for those who care. It had been playing up lately so I bought a carburettor fixing kit and sorted it out. It cost less than £3.

I’ve fixed car carburettors before (back when they existed), both fixed jet (Cortina, often) and variable jet (Mini). The primitive lawnmower one was easy. It really is very primitive indeed.

It ran perfectly… for about 15 minutes. Then it died.

Took out the spark plug – covered in soot. Okay, fuel mix is too rich, how do I adjust it? Answer – I can’t. This little carb has no adjustments. Cleaned and regapped the plug and it fires up, then stops. Brrm-brrm-nah.

Well, buying a completely new carburettor will only cost £20. I could give up and do that. I could, but it would be an admission of failure. This primitive little engine really doesn’t have that much to it.

So off I went to YouTube for some help. It’s full of videos about the exact same problem, it seems to be common. The one tip I found that nobody else mentioned is that the gasket can creep back between the two fixing screws at the back of the fuel tank. A score line in the tank there will help it grip. Also, fit the O-ring and plastic retainer to the carburettor, not the air intake manifold. Nobody else mentioned that one.

Tomorrow I dismantle the mower again. I will try not to give in and just buy a carburettor but it’s a race against time here. The grass is fast reaching the point where it wipes your arse as you cross the lawn and I really need to mow the drive. It’s starting to look like something David Attenborough would drive along.

So this thing has had a carb overhaul, a new air filter and spark plug, a new paint job (courtesy of Son who rescued it from its final rusting place in the shed) and it worked well for a while. Now it has decided to be a difficult git.

I think the grass has bribed it.


24 thoughts on “Lawnmower Man

  1. Us with scooters with small engines – and who don’t use them for months – bear in mind that today’s fuel has a 5% ethanol mix as a minimum. And up to 10% is allowed.

    A problem with this is ethanol sinks to the bottom of the tank and unless well shaken before startup is boring and tedious.

    I believe regular petrol stations do not exceed the 5% mix, but supermarkets do and that can affect small engines, especially those manufactured prior to the change in legislation.

    So if you’ve any reason to suspect the age or origin of the fuel in your mower, I’d suggest you get fresh stuff from a branded petrol station.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The mower fuel came from a petrol station that doesn’t even have self service pumps. Yes, they still exist – the numbers roll over on wheels, no digital readouts.

      Gave me a shock the first time I went in there. I popped the release for the fuel cap, went around to the pump and there was a women already holding the pump handle and unscrewing the cap!

      It’s only a few pennies per litre more expensive and it’s closer than the supermarket… and worth it for that 1970s experience!

      Liked by 1 person

      • They’re all like that here in Greece. Self-service petrol stations are few and far between, and the few that exist have those machines that you have to put your money in first before you can pump.


  2. I mean, not now. More of a “for later” type of project…but I bet it could work.

    I wonder if they make motor mounts for a 454 c.i. Chevy for your make and model lawnmower?
    A: Probably. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

        • lolz…maybe a floating cutting head is in order. It may actually help keep the cutting angle uniform AND help keep your foot on the accelerator in the turns.

          I fear for the maintenance costs tho. We just went helicopter ridiculous with the number of moving parts. (government interest/contracts is prolly assured at this point tho)


  3. Have had a Briggs and Stratton engined mower for many years with no trouble.

    Last couple of years have gone through a new carb and 2 kits. Very fresh fuel certainly helped, but the problems didn’t completely go away.

    Turns out lots of small engines are having problems with the latest fuel as it attracts moisture. Briggs and Stratton do an additive “Fuel Fit” which has solved all our problems. Costs about a fiver for 250ml which will treat 25L.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m surprised you haven’t bought a scythe. A moonlit night, a hooded top and your freshly sharpened scythe to gather the sou… Oops! Grass in. Job’s a good ‘un.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sorry, I am a bit late in here. I’ve had Briggs and Stratton Mowers for many a long year. There is an additive you can buy for Sans Plomb Fuel. Worth every penny.

    Have you tried looking underneath? Hidden shit gets wrapped around the blade sometimes.

    The other thing of course is that bright sparks mess about with settings to get the mower to go faster. A bad, bad idea. My neighbour’s mowers last him about two years, while mine go on for very much longer.


    • I’ve replaced the carburettor diaphragm and now fitted new governor springs. It’s working again, properly at last, and cost less than a fiver for parts 😀


      • I have no idea of what you are talking about. Abuse a Mower and it will let you down.
        And how many hours has this cost you? Just don’t treat Mowers badly. Don’t
        psych them up to go faster, and use the additive to replace the lack of lead.
        Mowers are such simple things. There is so very little to go wrong if you have feel for machinery.
        Sadly, most people don’t.
        I despair.


        • I should put it into perspective – the mower is over 25 years old and spent a lot of those years buried under junk in a shed. I bought it when I had a big garden, then moved to a place with a small square of grass that only needed 10 minutes with a cheap hover mower. This petrol mower was seriously neglected. Now I have a huge garden again so the petrol mower’s revival was necessary.

          The diaphragm on the carburettor had perished and the springs had lost their springiness. It’s surprising it worked at all. Now it’s working properly again, pretty much back from the dead.

          I could have given up and bought a new one but I was determined to get this back in working order. I’ve succeeded, it’s running as good as new and good thing too – the cheap hover can’t possibly cope with this garden!


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