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Am I a idiot?

That’s right. I’m going to bitch about my lawn mower some more.

Still not working. Same M.O. – I pump the bulb a few times to get some gas in there, and it runs until that’s gone. It mowed half the lawn before it started this stuff though. I think that’s a clue.

This guy bought the exact same mower as mine for £18 in a non-working condition and gets it going from start to finish in under an hour.

Based on watching him have a go, I reckon it’s either a clogged fuel line or the carburetor needs a clean. Ah, let’s face it – whether that’s the problem are not, you can be sure my carb is full of gunk.

But am I up to it, eh?

Hey, no probs if I mess it up. It’s No Mow May.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 11, 2021, 7:22 pm

This mower is the cheapest one you can get new, but I’m very fond of it because it has a plastic deck (no rusting) and it’s very light. Our lawn is small, but there are places where I need to lift the mower.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 11, 2021, 9:04 pm

Have you checked the feedback control linkage from the exhaust plenum absolute pressure manometer to the carburetor intake throat bypass butterfly valve?

And what’s that long roach clip attached to?

And, good golly, where’s the carburetor? Maybe that’s your problem! (-:

Comment from Drew458
Time: May 11, 2021, 10:07 pm

Uncle Al – the carb is removed for cleaning. The pic above is not her mower, it’s a screencap from the YT video.

I made the mistake of pouring Gumout into a mounted carb on our old Toro when I was a kid. It was running at the time. B&S flathead engine. After the world’s biggest smoke cloud cleared, the engine had seized, dry piston gouged the cylinder, and cracked the head. It seems liquids, even flammable ones, don’t compress much at all. Killed that mower dead. I did an awful lot of work to earn the price of a new one.

Take the carb off to clean it, wash out the gas tank, let dry, go spend a buck on a length of fuel line and cut to fit. Take the old line with you to the store to get the right size. If you feel really “engine-y” you can gently use a bit of very fine sandpaper to clean the spark plug node, and gap it with a screwdriver. Probably just check the gap is all you need to do. A slightly loose fit on 2 business cards is about the right gap if you don’t own feeler gauges. 0.03″ is typical if you do have them. Home mowers run for under 100 hours a year, so your plug should last forever. You don’t need a new one. Clean and oil the air filter can’t hurt either.


Mowers, even advanced modern overhead cam ones like this one, are pretty basic. It runs, so it’s not a broken cam chain or faulty ignition. Therefore, the answer is dirt and varnish from old fuel.

Comment from ea
Time: May 11, 2021, 10:17 pm

Dad retired and got certified as a master mechanic for small engines-he says clean the carburetor and next time use sta-bil when you put it up for the winter.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 11, 2021, 10:57 pm

Thank you, ea. Looks like Sta-Bil is available in the UK.

Drew, we did the spark plug already. Gap looked okay, just eyeballing it. Also cleaned and oiled the air filter.

Fuel isn’t getting where it needs to go, plain and simple.

Comment from Mitch
Time: May 11, 2021, 11:46 pm

Stoaty, all you need to do is re-route the variable-phased tachyon emitter pulse through the deflector array and recalibrate the gamma photon diffuser. That’ll provide the inverse reactive current needed for the unilateral phase detractors and automatically synchronize your cardinal grammeters. Be careful not to interfere with the modial interaction of the magneto reluctance! That could compromise the dongle arm push shafts and result in loss of fluxons. And we all know what that means! lol.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 12, 2021, 1:33 am

Get a goat or a couple of sheep.
Mowers cause Gerbil Climate Change!

Alternately if you have the mower attachment for the Retro Encabulator it’s an easy couple days work to get it up and running. And it sounds like you don’t need the grass catcher attachment so that’ll save a day right there.

Scissors perhaps, a hand scythe?

Or, you could always use a 20″ bar chainsaw to cut the lawn, like a real man would use.

Comment from BJM
Time: May 12, 2021, 3:22 am

@Mitch And we all know what that means!

Daleks Incoming!!

Comment from LesterIII
Time: May 12, 2021, 4:08 am

You can easily perform this resurrection, Stoaty. Just make sure you clean out the tank (as Drew458 recommended). This oft overlooked requirement leads to much frustration when a clog/gunkification happens soon after performing the tedium.

Comment from Weasel in the Libr’y
Time: May 12, 2021, 8:56 am

How do you clean out the tank, Lester? Like, with what? And can I drain the petrol into a regular bucket, or will it dissolve?

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 12, 2021, 10:14 am


Oh, you tried a Styrofoam cup one time did you?
(looks away quickly in a furtive and suspicious manner)

Comment from Pupster
Time: May 12, 2021, 10:26 am

I had to bend the spring-loaded arm that controls the gas/airflow on my brand new mower, it would not idle correctly once it got warmed up. Back in the day you had turtle to rabbit motor speed control, now the machines are on or off with no in between. I’m going to blame the enviro-weenies with no research into the facts just because.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 12, 2021, 1:38 pm

Yeah, that spring is the thing I worry most about, Pups. Getting it unattached and attached again without it flying across the garden with the greatest of ease.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 12, 2021, 3:01 pm

In re: spring removal and installation

Requirement 0 — Wear eye protection.

Option 1 — Tie one end of a piece of stout string or twine to the spring, the other to anything nearby and handy.

Option 2 — If it’s reasonably possible to do the work by feel, drape a drop cloth, towel, or old shirt over your hands and the spring when working on the spring.

Forgive the mild blasphemy, but these things are called Jesus Springs. Because when it flies away to wherever you’re not looking, you say, “Jesus! Where’d it go?”

Comment from LesterIII
Time: May 12, 2021, 6:41 pm

Stoaty: I prefer to use either isopropyl alcohol (but gasoline will do). Use a soft/medium brush (test for compatibility of brush prior to scrubbing!) to scrub the tank using a small amount of this fluid. I leave a short piece of fuel line attached and clamp this line while scrubbing. NOTE: a wire brush can score and/or create pieces that break off and create future problems. A thorough scrub followed by a flush with the same fluid, catching it via funnel into a can or glass jar.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: May 12, 2021, 6:42 pm

Stage directions:

Lights flicker and then dim. Slightly eerie dramatic music to give a feeling of anticipatory dread, as when the hero worries he may arrive too late to save the heroine from brain surgery at the hands of the mad scientist …

(Loud noises from Stage Left, as if a serious fight is occurring)

“Let me through, dammit, let me through! It may be too late already!!!

Stop! PUT DOWN the carburetor! Don’t mess with it any more! You may have let the magic out already and carbs are bloody vengeful Sods if you annoy them.

Look you had the mower running – that means that given a chance the carb will do its duty, as England expects of every carburetor. Put it back on and do not disassemble anything more on it. Do it. Do it now, and then come back and continue reading.

You need to get back to the fundamental rule of Shadetree mechanics:

Start with the simplest and cheapest possible solution first and only try one fix at a time.

So, empty the tank into a bucket or a large jar and replace the fuel line. The gas won’t eat a plastic bucket over the brief period that you are going to have it around.

Go buy a piece of new FUEL line. Take your old hose with you and go to an automotive parts store. Not every piece of hose can handle automotive fuel. They will be pleased to help you choose the proper ID (internal diameter) hose.

Put a pint of new fuel in the tank. Try starting the mower – don’t forget to prime it with the bulb first. If it starts and stops, just keep trying and eventually it will run. Let it just sit there and round for 15 minutes. Then you can add a bit of fuel system cleaner to the tank.

Getting rid of the old bad gas is easy.

You can recycle it by putting it in an approved container and driving all over town to the Center.

You can pour it in periodic batches of 6 or 8 ounces into your car gas tank. The tiny percentage amount of bad gas will be consumed invisibly without hurting anything.

Gasoline is also wonderful for (carefully, dammit!) starting rubbish fires of old wood from the garden -this is actually an approved method of disposing of carbon fuels and natural gas from oil wells is disposed of that way all the time.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 12, 2021, 7:17 pm

Mr Demille!?

What should I do with this Styrofoam cup?

Why are there no lights?

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: May 12, 2021, 10:45 pm

Re: Anonymous at 3:01 PM Option 1:

Do NOT attach the string to a chicken. They will eat the string AND the spring…

Attaching it to the tail of a cat would be a better choice. You KNOW a cat won’t eat either item…

Comment from Dr NOX
Time: May 16, 2021, 1:15 am

I do this every spring when I forget to drain the fuel in autumn (most years.) Just drain the old crap out by loosening the float bowl and walking away for a while. Come back and retighten the bowl, add new (unseasoned) fuel, and pull the cord five or six times.

If that doesn’t work, buy a new mower. God only knows what’s wrong with it.

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