Success!

“Jim, we got a heartbeat!” – Leonard McCoy

The roto-tiller is fixed.  Finally.  I woke up yesterday morning at 6 am and just couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to stay up.  After going downstairs, puttering a little bit, fed the cat and finished a blog entry, I checked the weather for Thursday and noted that it was fairly chilly outside for a mid-June morning.  Something sort of called me out to the garage, so I went out there and stared at a few things before my eyes fell on the half-fixed roto-tiller.  I decided then and there that it was going to get finished.  It was only a fuel line connection to the gas tank (and a fuel filter installation) away from being done.

The gas tank was still off, so I had to finish putting on one of the small covers that prevents dirt from getting into the starter cord holder.  The nut only barely went on the bolt so I was forced to do a little finagling with a wrench and my drill/driver, but I finally got it back on.  Screwed in the self-tapping screw at the top and I was ready to go on to the gas tank.  Which turned out to be fairly easy, since the rust patterns on the various pieces reminded me of where they went.  Put the bolts in the respective holes, lined up the rust patterns and in this case used my impact driver to drive them in securely.

I had purchased a new spark plug, so I put that in after checking to be sure the gap was correct.  At that point I ran into a little snag with the fuel line, but a bit of measuring along with a couple of mishaps, and I was glad I had purchased the longer length of hose, as I ended up needing almost all of it to get it all connected, since I measured wrong the first time.  But after getting it all figured out, clamped up, I kneeled back and gave myself a little greasy pat on the back.  Checked my work to be sure I didn’t have any parts left over (didn’t!) and then went to get the gas can.  I filled the gas tank a little, checked to be sure there wasn’t a leak anywhere (yay, no!) and then filled the tank about halfway.

Moment of truth.  I checked the choke on the carb, and pulled the starter cord.  Nothing.  Looked up at the controls and realized the lever was still set at ‘STOP’.  Duh!  I pushed the lever forward to ‘START’ and then pulled the starter cord again.  Still nothing.  On the third pull, I was rewarded with a chug and the engine caught.  Apparently the complete lack of fuel in the system caused it to need a bit more in the carb to get things going.  But once the engine caught it continued to run, but it was running a little roughly.  I switched up the lever a bit more and it started to run a bit more smoothly.  But the governor was still surging a little, so I tweaked the carb until it evened out.  Once that was done, I revved the engine a little bit to find where the various speeds needed to be.  After doing that, I wound it down a bit, and then pulled the lever all the way back to stop.  Contrary to what it had been doing, where in order to stop I needed to pull the connector off the spark plug, this time the engine wound down on its own and stopped finally.

At this point I decided to take it outside the garage and give it a little test under load, where pre-repair it was having the most trouble.  Bringing it out beside the garage, I drove it into a patch of ground that had been tilled about a two weeks ago, when I was in the middle of trying to repair the old carb and had it all together and trying to see what it would do.  This time when I put it into gear, the engine didn’t die down or ‘hunt’ when the tines bit into the earth, it stayed high in the RPMs and cut through the ground like it was nothing.  Even moving into a patch that hadn’t been tilled before caused the same result, it worked just like there was nothing amiss.  Success!  Not wanting to wake the entire neighborhood (the engine on the tiller is a little loud, I’ve taken to wearing hearing protection while running it) I brought it back into the garage and shut it down.

This project has taken me I think the better part of a month to complete, but it hasn’t been without merit.  I think I’m perfectly capable of effecting successful repairs on it should the need arise, given my experience and that should save me money in the long run.  If nothing else I have considerable documentation, pictures and having documented my efforts here and elsewhere (I kept notes) it should keep me from having to find someone else to do the work for me.  Certainly I can change the oil myself now, and that’s a big thing when it comes to swapping out equipment for the changing seasons.  And I can take the knowledge of this and apply it to my snowblower, since the engines are nearly identical.  So bonus for that too.

It runs!  It’s fixed!  Now I have to move on to the desktop computer.  Go me!

Landscape’d

As long as we’ve been living here, we’ve mostly kept the property as it was when we first purchased the house.  Granted there have been minor changes, in that there were two sizeable trees in the front and side yard 20 years ago, but one fell down on its own and the other was leaning too far towards the house, so we had it removed before it dropped onto our roof or into the neighbor’s.  In the backyard, we’ve been fighting a losing battle against the Japanese knotweed a previous owner planted, but so long as we keep tilling that patch of ground and mulching the hell out of it, we can (for the most part) keep it from growing wild like it does on two other sides of the property on the opposite side of the fence.

Considering we don’t have a great deal of land to begin with (the lot is listed at 0.157 acres) and the house and garage take up a good deal of that space, we make do with what we have here, for the most part.  There’s an old patio behind the house, that probably could do with an upgrade, but there are other things we’ve been wanting to do first, so that’s going to get shelved for another year.  Two years ago we managed to get the driveway paved, that had been an eyesore for the longest time.  I can definitely say my old snowblower is very grateful it doesn’t have to chew through gravel and stones every winter just to keep the driveway clean.  Our walkway leading up to the house needs a bit of an upgrade, the concrete forms have heaved somewhat over the years and a few are split as well.  So far as I know, the sidewalk across the front of our property is our responsibility, since it is within the stakes that designate the property lines.  Although I do mow the strip of grass beyond the sidewalk, leading up to the street we live on, and clearly that and the trees that sit on it, belong to the village.  Just one of those curiosities when you live in a municipal area, rather than out in the country.

At the present time, and probably for the next ten days, our focus is on getting a new leased vehicle, since we have to turn in the Edge on the 17th.   Then we can get busy on making the property look nice for the visitors that we’re still looking forward to hosting for the remainder of the summer, as well as the coming fall.  Hard to believe that I’m planning ahead for autumn when it’s not even summer yet!  How times change as I get older.  At any rate, there will be some before and after pictures as things progress.  One definite thing I have to do is get someone to take down the dead tree behind the garage.  Before it falls into the neighbor’s yard.

Projects

Along with the small engine issues and the accompanying garden fun, I have other projects that I’ve been considering doing to both spruce up the place and keep busy, since when I’m doing things, I’ve discovered I’m not lying around the house and eating.

  • For many years I’ve been wanting to replace the old borders between the driveway and the small flower beds alongside the house, but could never find the right sort of lumber to do it with.  This morning, while I was scoping out information on Home Depot about the roto-tiller, I happened to look at the print ad and found ‘landscape timbers‘.  While doing a little investigating about what all they could be used for, someone had posted a review saying that they built an outside planter with them, as they’re the right size and fairly inexpensive.  Which got me thinking, and once I was thinking I started measuring.  Instead of locating a dealer or lumberyard that sells untreated cedar lumber (not easy in this area) I could utilize this instead, and build both the planter and replace the rotting timbers that are lining the driveway presently.  And at a very inexpensive price!  Not to mention, Home Depot delivers, so I don’t have to figure out how to get the [17] 8 foot timbers to the house.
  • I have a storage bin that has the accumulated items from my parent’s house, when I moved from there in 1992.  Since then, I’ve moved the items three times, and as of this writing am really not making use of much of the stuff there.  In 2022 it will have been 30 years since moving, and if I haven’t made use of anything, it seems that I probably never will.  Saving $750 a year might be a good idea, and the remainder I could couple with my wife’s storage bin.  Yes, she has one too!
  • Last year we had a local handyman fix the two Adirondack chairs that are sitting on the side patio.  We bought them when we lived in a cottage on one of the Finger Lakes, and they moved with us, and ended up being stored in the garage for 10 years.  Finally, I dragged them out and set them up on the patio, where they’ve sat ever since.  They’re made from pine, and have weathered over the years, but could definitely use a coat of paint.  The handyman offered to paint them after doing the repairs, but painting is a relatively easy thing to do, so I declined at the time.  I actually have a third chair that I’ve been meaning to build (it was an extended ‘reward’ on a Kickstarter campaign many years ago) but just haven’t gotten around to it.  Perhaps I can do that as well this summer.
  • The shutters on the house are in serious need of repair or replacing.  I’m thinking replacing, since they’re in pretty bad shape overall, and are so old, that they’re nearly all falling apart.  Too, they have antiquated hinges that I can’t seem to find replacements for, so I might have to get in touch with a contractor and get a quote on suitable ones; but I don’t want vinyl shutters, since you don’t put plastic shutters on a 180 yr old house.  That would be a little stupid, in my opinion.  (Wow, just priced wooden shutters and got sticker shock.  $550 for a pair of redwood… even pine [pine!] is $140…)

There’s more around the place, but I think that’s sufficient for now.  Just have to get the gumption up to get around and do such things.  Some are definitely easier than others, and some are going to put a serious dent in the household funds insofar as repair and replace.  But that’s part of owning your house.  As opposed to renting.  For the most part you’re keeping it up for the next people who are going to own it.

I’ll probably do a review at the end of the summer.  See how I made out.