Tuning Your Mower

About now as we reach summer, one of the most important vehicles at your home is the lawnmower. You’re probably relying on it at most once a week. You want it to work properly.

One way to assure that your mower is always in tip-top shape is to tune it. It is said that a small engine typically used on a lawnmower should be tuned after about 50 hours of work. That’s approximately once a season. However, as is the case with the maintenance of many machines, there are exceptions. Lawnmower manufacturers note that mowers under heavy use and required to work in high temperatures, dusty condition, and in tall grass need service more frequently.

In addition, it’s not uncommon for lawnmowers to have problems due to the alcohol content of the fuels used today. We’re talking about the increase use of ethanol in gasoline. The alcohol in the ethanol oxidizes to create a varnish-like substance inside the carburetor that results in moisture, which causes corrosion. Moreover, the alcohol also damages the plastic components of the fuel system.

What To Do To Minimize Lawnmower Problems Due To Fuel

Many lawnmower manufactures recommend a number of things to do in relation to the fuel to prevent too much alcohol from adversely affecting the lawnmower. For example, they suggest that you use gasoline that has an octane rating not lower than 87 when the alcohol content is no higher than 10 percent. Manufacturers also recommend that you buy enough fuel to last two weeks. Put fuel additive in the gasoline that you tote away from the gas station. Many suggest the use of prepackaged fuel including Small Engine Fuel (SEF). Be forewarned that this fuel is more expensive than the variety you get at the pump. It can cost from $5.50 to $7.50 per quart. This fuel is 94 octane and is ethanol-free. In addition, it does not require an additive.

Other Issues That Are Addressed When Tuning Your Mower

When you reach midseason of your lawnmower use, it is not uncommon to run into other problems, many of which are the cause of stress on the mower due to the heavy workload. The air cleaner clogs with dirt, the blade gets dull, and, if you mow in the early morning when the grass is wet because of the dew, thick grass clippings are layered onto the underside of the mower.

Your mower tuning procedure should include activity that alleviate these issues including:

• Cleaning the deck
• Sharpening the blade
• Checking the spark plug
• Servicing the air filter
• Cleaning the mower’s flywheel.
• Changing the oil

Cleaning The Deck

The first thing you do to perform this task is to disconnect the spark plug and clear the fuel tank of gasoline or remove it.

Preventative maintenance prolongs your mower’s life and keeps your mower running smoothly for years.

Next, tip the mower back and attack the deck. Thoroughly scrub it with a wire brush and scrape it with a putty knife to get rid of the dried grass clippings.

Sharpen The Blade

You should take some caution when performing this task. First, remove the bland and then sharpen it using a mill bastard file. You want to remove an equal amount of metal from each side. To check how you’re doing, balance the blade on a bolt clamped in a bench vise or on a blade balancer.

Once you’re ready to re-install the blade onto the underside of the mower, use a torque wrench to achieve the task. Be sure to tighten the blade-retaining bolt to manufacturer’s specifications as instructed in the owner’s manual.

Check The Spark Plug

To ensure that the motor works efficiently, install a new, properly gapped spark plug. This should be done after operating the mower for 100 hours or once a season.

Service The Air Filter

Check to see if you’re using a paper or foam air filter on your mower. Keep in mind that manufacturers recommend that a paper or form filter should be replaced every 25 hours of work. Paper filters that feature a foam filter pre-cleaner lasts for 100 hours of operation. Don’t use compressed air to blow debris out of a paper filter. It could perforate the paper. Keep in mind that only a teaspoon of dust that makes it through an air filter can actually destroy an engine.

Clean The Flywheel

If you run your mower more than 4 hours a week or operate it in dusty and dirty conditions, uncover the flywheel and brush off the fins with an old paintbrush. Perform this task at midseason.

Change The Oil

It is advised that you change the oil at least once per season or after the mower works for 25 hours. Most mower maintenance kits include the proper oil for your engine. Of course, you can buy oil separately.

(Source: popularmechanics.com and briggsandstratton.com)