Learn To Work On Engines

Discussion in 'How Do I?' started by Mary Stetler, Oct 9, 2023.

  1. Mary Stetler

    Mary Stetler Veteran Member
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    Or bikes for that matter.
    My handyman met me 8 years ago with an ad that he would come and work on people's lawn mowers and teach them to do it themselves. Being too old and decrepit to work on them my self, I just let him do it. Since then, I have mentioned that I would like him to teach my daughter the skills.
    I think in the meantime, he is of the opinion, like the poster at the shop:
    If I Fix your engine, $45 an hour.
    If you are here while I am doing it $65 an hour.
    He told me he no longer has the patience to work with others.
    My daughter is a lot smarter than I and builds her own rabbit cages etc, took welding at the tech school...
    :(
    Is taking a broken one apart the only way? And what do I do with the extra parts?:rolleyes:
     
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  2. Marie Mallery

    Marie Mallery Veteran Member
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    Beats me. Sorry Mary I'm not mechanical. I'm more of an engineer.:D
     
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  3. John Brunner

    John Brunner Senior Staff
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    I used to work in a lawn mower repair shop. My skills were not deep. I could do tune ups and rebuild carbs, but could not listen to an engine and tell you what was wrong with it as most other competent mechanics could.
     
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  4. John Brunner

    John Brunner Senior Staff
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    I was considering taking a Small Engine Repair class and a Diesel Engine Repair class at the local community college to refresh my skills. Generally speaking, repairing lawnmowers is pretty much cleaning (and maybe oiling) the air filter, swapping out the plugs, the points, the condenser and the magnesium sheer key that prevents the engine from having a catastrophe should the blade hit a rock or something else that will make it stop suddenly.

    Other than general tune ups & oil changes, the next level of repair is to rebuild the carburetor. @Nancy Hart could give us a lesson on that. I think all there is to is is to clean it, and replace the float, the needle and the seat. You adjust the float so it sits level in order to cut off the flow of gas so the thing does not flood. Fuel problems might be caused by sediment in the gas tank. Use a flashlight (not a match) to look inside to see if there is sediment on the bottom. If there is, it's easy enough to remove the tank and flush it out.

    The next not-too-tough repair is to replace a leaking head gasket. It's easy to do, and may require scraping carbon off of the head or off of the engine block. The bolts will have to be tightened using a torque wrench.

    Beyond that, you're getting into replacing the piston, the crankshaft, valves, etc. That stuff is not real difficult on small engines, but you gotta be able to diagnose the issue in the first place.

    The only other things I remember are about sharpening blades:

    1-You sharpen them at a 30° angle. (You usually sharpen kitchen knives at a 22.5° angle, which is half of 45°.) You do not put a razor edge to it because such an edge would chip too easily and then the blade would merely rip the grass out instead of cut it. (See the pic below, where the edge is at a slight angle rather than a long gradual ramp ending in a thin razor edge.)

    2-You need to balance the blade after sharpening. They make cones you set the blade on to see if it sits level. There are tips on the web on how to do this without a cone.

    [​IMG]

    In order to get the blade to be level, you grind a little bit off of the backside of the heavy end. It the blade is not level, it imparts an uneven force to the crankshaft of the engine and will quickly wear out the seals.
     
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  5. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Supreme Member
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    I have discovered that on many small engines, ordering a rebuilt carb is cheaper than buying a rebuild kit (if you can find the right one) and doing the work. I have always hated mechanics, but fortunately now I have a professional mechanic son who can do things for me if I ask.
     
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  6. Kate Ellery

    Kate Ellery Supreme Member
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    My hubs begin his working life as a Heavy duty diesel mechanic as well as being an auto electrician ..he always says …. it’s all just nuts and bolts weather it’s a lawn mower or a 20 tone truck .

    He started his apprenticeship at a steel making/ ship building plant BHP about 5 hours drive north of Adelaide ( Whyalla ) he was 15 when he started working .

    https://www.whyalla.com/tours

    He was living in Whyalla when I met him and we married while we were both living there in 1987 ( married)

    Meaning of BHP *****

    What does BHP stand for in Australia?

    -- BHP stands for Broken Hill Propriety Company Ltd, the name the company was incorporated under in 1885. It was named after the Broken Hill silver, lead, and zinc mines it developed in New South Wales, Australia.
     
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  7. Mary Stetler

    Mary Stetler Veteran Member
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    OK, but when I take the tractor apart, he has to come help me find all the bolts.:rolleyes:
    Actually, my brother started that way, turning self propelled push mowers into go carts.:eek:
     
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  8. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Supreme Member
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    I use to do some under-the-hood repairs on my old vehicles, but when they became more technical/computerized, I stopped. As for small engines, like a lawn mower, we no longer have or use one, since we live in an apartment. I have never been "engine/mechanically" inclined, but do a little work on our boat. What I am mainly is, "clerical/computer" inclined.
     
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  9. John Brunner

    John Brunner Senior Staff
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    I remember those days. Later on it became more difficult to find an engine with a horizontal shaft.
     
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  10. Don Roles

    Don Roles Well-Known Member
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    Trained as an electrician it seems I 'absorbed' mechanical skills through watching and doing, landing up at some point as a maintenance supervisor / general dogs body / he can fix it kind of a guy leading to me making a very modest living fixing various things for various folks. That said having replaced car and truck engines years ago I would not even go much beyond lifting the hood on the stuff coming off the production line now days.

    Advanced engineering? There are days when I wonder!
     
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  11. Tony Donald

    Tony Donald Member
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    I have been working on engines since I was a kid, so some of it comes natural to me, mainly just due to experience. That being said, much of this is common sense and to a great extent trial and error. With the lawnmower for instance, there honestly isn't much too them. Once you learn how to take them apart. Most often I find that is the worst part. For that I highly suggest your friend YouTube! But then once you have done it, it's really not so tough. I do the same with my vehicles. They make it tougher now to do a lot on modern vehicles, but it can be done. Most important thing other than knowing how it all comes apart without damaging anything is having the right tools. But I would say that learning these type skills is far more valuable, often literally, and a lot easier than people realize.
     
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  12. Mary Stetler

    Mary Stetler Veteran Member
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    I have no trouble at all taking stuff apart. I just can't figure out what to do with all the extra parts when I am done putting it back together.:rolleyes:
    Today I am just spent. I went alllllll the way to the gas station for non ethanol gas and put it in my small tractor and, after charging, put the battery in for the season.
    Whew!
     
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  13. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Supreme Member
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    Klick and Klack the Tappet Brothers, if you remember them, said if you take a carburetor apart and put it back together 3 times, you have enough extra parts left over to make another carburetor:)
     
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  14. Mary Stetler

    Mary Stetler Veteran Member
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    Yup! I have a plastic bag of various and sundry parts of different things.;) Hubby keeps his in jars.
     
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