Thursday, July 09, 2009

Back to the basics

Reading the book on Shop Class saved me some money already. I'm good with my hands but for some reason, I've never felt totally comfortable working on lawnmower engines.
Often I simply load them on the truck and haul them to a repair shop and a hefty bill later, they work like a charm.
I have a push mower, which I only use occasionally, that wouldn't crank the last time I needed it.
I'd made up my mind that I needed to run it out to my repair shop this coming Saturday.
But after reading the book about the nature of repair work, I poured me a cold glass of ice tea, put on my coveralls, and went to my tool shed.
The mower would crank and run about three seconds if you sprayed starting fluid in the carburetor. It would then die and not hit a lick until you sprayed more fluid.
Internal combustion engines look complicated but if you break them down into their simplest form, they need gas, fire and air to run.
My lawn mower was obviously getting air and fire because it would start, it just wouldn't run for long. That left GAS.
I had put a little gas in the tank to get started but I noticed a little trickle falling on the frame from beneath the tank. BINGO I thought, the gas line has a small break in it. When I checked, sure enough, the line was dry rotted in places.
I scrounged around the shed and found a new piece of hose and clamped that baby on. I had a smug look on my face.
When I pulled the crank cord, it wouldn't fire off. I sprayed a little fluid in carb and pulled again. I ran for three seconds and died.
My heart sank, but I was not defeated. I check the choke, and the other links to the carb but everything looked in order.
I felt under the carb and there was a drain plug. I grabbed a socket wrench and twisted it loose. When the plug came out, about half of what drained out was water.
I decided to remove the carb and look inside. Once off, I cleaned some trash out and then sprayed the internal workings with WD-40 to make sure ever thing moved as it should.
When I put it all back together, I squirted a little fluid in the carb and pulled the cord. It ran for three seconds and then almost died....then it sputtered a little and sprang to life.
You would have thought I won the lottery. I did a little shade-tree mechanic dance right there in the yard.
I know there are a lot of mechanical things that are outside my realm of expertise. Jilda's Volvo, for example. Each time it needs maintenance, I have two choices - I can either take it to the Volvo repair shop or I can work on it myself and sleep in the tool shed for a month. On this, I acquiesce. But most everything else is fair game.
I sense a "back to the basics" movement in the air. I talked to a lady at work who has lived in a high dollar section of town for years. Today, she said that her family was selling their home and downsizing. "We're looking for something where I can have a garden," she said.
This is a theme I'm hearing more and more. Hard times tend to do that. People take stock and look at what's really important.
Being handy is a good skill that goes hand and hand with the "back to the basics" movement.
I believe it is a noble pursuit.


  1. Anonymous10:42 PM

    uncle rick i hope your lawn mower doesnt misplace itself like the hand trucks did since its running good now.

  2. Anonymous12:51 AM

    Humanity is so dependent on technology and fuels that if those fail it will be back to basics for everyone whether they want it or not.


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