More Small Engine Angst

The carburetor arrived yesterday.  A couple of days early.  I actually used that as a good omen, though I honestly should have known better.  After taking my wife to her eye dr appointment (all’s well, it was just a 6 month checkup on her cataract surgeries) I got out of my work clothes, into my more comfortable home working clothes and got to work taking off the old carb and bolting on the new.

If I can take anything from the trials and tribulations of this experience with the engine, I feel that my learning curve has greatly increased when it comes to the ins and outs of small engines.  I certainly have a greater respect for them, they’re not really just means to an end anymore, they seem to have little lives of their own and really do need TLC from time to time, in order to work the way they’re supposed to.  Change the oil, check all the lines and so on, otherwise you’re going to be in dutch, and not in a good way!

This time, instead of removing the muffler and the air filter, and trying to wrest just the carburetor from the engine, I took a page from my experience and removed the two screws from the valve that led from the carb to the engine block and removed the entire assembly.  That worked much better, and I could get to the bolts much easier with a wrench.  If only I knew about that trick the first time!  Would have saved me a good 10 minutes of angst in getting the darn thing off.  Still, I forgot to dump the excess gas from the bowl of the carb using the little exit port and got gas all over my fingers when it went from level to cockeyed.  At least this time I had a rag to clean it up with.  I went ahead and cracked a window in the garage as I could already smell the gas and knew it wasn’t going to get much better if I kept spilling it.

Having the whole thing together, I slowly separated the valve from the old carburetor and set it aside.  Getting my tools together, I bolted the new carburetor on and reassembled the whole thing, ready to put it on the engine block.  Looking at the carb, I noticed what might already be a problem.  Ok, two problems.  First one; the choke lever is longer on this carburetor than the old one, so its going to be knocking against the protector arm that lies just beyond the cover of the air filter.  I bent the choke lever a little, making certain that it wasn’t bent too much (or worse yet, snap it off!) so it would clear.  I thought that was acceptable (turns out later it wasn’t).  The second issue was with the way the gas line would need to go into the carb.  On the old one, there’s a metal thingy on an angle that takes a straight line from the gas tank and bends it towards the carb.  On the new one, there’s no thingy, just an extension that the gas line slides onto, which is going to be a problem since my gas line isn’t all that long.  And it’s 40+ years old which means it’s probably pretty brittle.  I’d been concerned about clamping it with vise grips for fear I’d break it, so I’ve been very careful with it up to now.  In all good conscience I should replace that as well, but it threads past the engine block on an odd angle and to replace it requires removing another part of the machine that I really don’t want to get into, if I don’t have to (the recoil starter, if you really wish to know).

At this point though, I removed the metal angle from the gas line, pulled on it a little to get a bit more slack and slid it onto the extension of the carb.  Using a clamp that was already on the line, I went ahead and bolted the air cleaner onto the other end of the carb.  Sure enough, the choke lever was being interfered with by the size of the air cleaner cover, as well as being restricted in its movement by the guard as I feared.  Fiddling around with it, I thought that I had it nicked, so I went ahead and filled the block with 10W-30 oil, making sure that I didn’t overfill the block.  I didn’t want to be burning oil if I could help it.  I added gas to the tank, even though there was gas in the tank already and set up the tiller to start.

Yanked on the starter cord a few times after pushing the choke over to start.  Nothing.  Yanked a few more times.  Still nothing.  It finally occurred to me that the throttle was still on stop and that was probably a big reason I wasn’t getting any action.  Changed that and gave it another two pulls.  Ah!  It coughed.  That suggested I might have flooded it initially.  Another couple of pulls and it fired!  But immediately it was running rough, so I grabbed a screwdriver and adjusted the idle screw.  That helped a bit.  It started to run more smoothly, and it didn’t sound completely rough.  However, when I went to shut it off, I ran into the same problem as with the other carb.  Pulling the throttle all the way back caused the engine to chug, but it wasn’t stopping, so it was still getting too much gas to keep it running.  Not having a completely good idea how to rectify that, I resorted to the trick I figured out the first time this happened.  I pulled the connector off the spark plug.  The engine died.

About that time, I smelled the distinct odor of fresh gas.  Looking down, I saw a puddle forming under the tiller and looked closer.  What I had feared occurring had happened.  I ripped a hole in the ancient fuel line and it was bleeding the gas tank onto the floor of the garage.  Oy.  Grabbing a nearby can I shoved it underneath and allowed it to pool there instead.  I tried shutting off the flow by using the vise grips, but the gas just shifted from bleeding at one point to flowing down the handle of the grips into the can.  After watching that for a moment or two pondering the options, I finally gave up and ripped the gas line in half and drained the gas tank completely.  I’m going to have to get a new gas line and either re-thread it behind the recoil cable assembly like it is now, or get a longer line and wind it underneath the tiller dangling under the machine completely. I’ve seen a YouTube video of someone else’s tiller of the same model where they did that, but I’m not certain that’s the best option.  When its exposed like that, if it happened to get hung up on some protrusion while tilling, it could easily rip the line and then I’d have gas in whatever bed I was working on.  That would most definitely be not good.

So that’s where I’m at now.  One step forward and still a few steps to go.   I can probably get a fuel line locally.  I won’t have to order it online.  That should save some time…I hope.  Stay tuned!

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