Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winterizing a Tecumseh Lawnmower Engine

Is that a handsome piece of machinery or what?

My son and I found this mower by the side of the road some years ago. It had no spark plug or oil in it, but was otherwise intact and appeared to be worth a closer look; so onto the truck and home it went.

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I looked underneath it and something looked amiss. There was a reasonably sound-looking mulching blade on it, but it had been installed upside down. One wonders if the mower's owner had a thought something like, "I just sharpened that blade and put it back on and it cuts worse than ever. To heck with it. Time for a new mower." Had he retraced his steps, he might have figured out that he'd converted his lawnmower into a lawn flogger.

In any event, I flipped the blade over, filled the sump with oil, installed a spark plug and it started and ran fine. It cut grass too. Not a bad find.

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The mower has to spend winters out on the patio. I have no shed or garage to keep it in, so I've come up with a little winter-proofing regimen that's not a lot of work, and gives me very good odds of a trouble-free startup in the spring. It goes like this:

1) Remove the spark plug. Spray in some WD-40. Replace the spark plug and give the starter cord a few pulls to distribute the WD-40.

2) Remove the following items:
  • Fuel tank.
  • Air cleaner.
  • Cowl w/recoil starter. (The recoil starter's cord is best kept inside where it'll stay dry. It'll last much longer that way.)
  • Governor linkage plate w/link and spring. N.B. -- Unless you're one of those natural-born mechanics who can just intuit how things go back together, you're well advised to draw yourself a clear sketch of something like a governor linkage arrangement. It may not be obvious to you what goes where come the spring.
  • Carburettor.
3) Drain the fuel tank. Leave the cap off of it.

4) Clean all the removed items. Take the float bowl off the carburettor, clean it and leave it off.

5) Stash all the removed items together in a box.

6) Pinch the crankcase vent tube shut with a binder clip.

7) Bung up the engine's intake port with a cork. In the following photograph, that's a synthetic wine bottle cork that I've whittled down for the purpose.

8) Blow off all the accumulated grass and stuff with compressed air.

9) Spray the muffler down with WD-40. Apply WD-40 anyplace that looks like it could use it -- cable ends, pivot points, what-have-you.

And here we are. The only thing left is to slip a garbage bag over it for a cover and tie it in place. Winter can do as it pleases; the engine will be snug.

Come spring, check the carburettor's float level, reassemble everything, oil the air cleaner element, fuel it up and away you go.

I didn't mention changing the oil. I really should have done that first here, but I was too lazy to. I'll do it first thing in the spring.

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