Getting the most bang for your buck

While I’ve been ensconced in this roto-tiller nightmare, I’ve learned a good deal about small engines, and older machines as well.  Though I’ve sort of discovered that which I already knew to a certain extent.  The older your machine, generally the more expensive the items are to replace on it.  Unless you can find ones that are similar, and more often used, therefore less expensive.  Which is what I’m in the process of searching for now.

Its been like a detective story, to a certain extent.  I have this engine, that’s been working like a champ for 40 plus years, and then suddenly, it starts to misbehave.  For a while I baby it, and finally, it quits.  So, I think to myself that it’s going to be a relatively easy fix.  Take off the offending part, find its replacement, unbolt one, bolt the other on, pull the starter cord and all’s right with the world.  Except it didn’t happen that way.  After taking the carburetor apart, I’ve discovered for the past 20 years, when I moved the choke lever, in actuality it wouldn’t have made a difference if I left it in any position, because a flange is missing from it.  So it’s ‘wide open’ all the time.  Curious how the people that ‘fixed’ it all those years ago never mentioned this was the case.   Too, finding the correct model of the tiller was nearly impossible because the identifying ‘plate’ was made out of paper and has completely eroded/erased over the intervening 40 some odd years.  Somewhat fortunately, when the tiller was put together, identifying numbers were stamped into the metal of both the engine shroud as well as the carburetor, but rust and corrosion as all but obscured them as well.

I’m increasingly thinking that it would be better just to get a new carburetor and bolt it on, hoping for the best.  Getting an original is going to cost upwards of $70-80 USD and that’s too much for something like that.  A repair for the entire unit including oil change etc. would be less than that, even if I were to include mileage to and from whatever repair place I could find.  To that end, I took the best amount of information that I have and placed an order on eBay for a compatible carburetor and it should be delivered here on/around June 3.

Even though I’m sort of giving up on the whole ‘repair the old’ strategy, I’m going to hold onto the old unit for reference if the new one happens to go sideways.  Even though there are parts missing from it, I could still use it for repairs down the road, as much of the unit is still functional.  Too, I took time to clean it and put it back together, so I know better how it all works.  At least for now.  So I’m ok with having it clutter up one portion of the garage.  Considering the rest of the clutter in the garage, that’s in dire need of attention, it will be good to move onto another one of my projects.

Small Engine Detective

This is Part 2 of my adventures in fixing the Troy-Bilt™ roto-tiller, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Working on this machine has afforded me a great deal of trouble, due to its age.  The other wrinkle is that the company that originally made it, went out of business and sold off its assets to another company in 2001.  Presumably the old records went along with the assets, but finding the correct manuals and such is hit and miss, considering the age of our machine.  When attempting to look up model numbers, I often hit dead ends, since the name of this particular machine was/is it’s ‘number’, so it doesn’t fit in any of the search criteria on the present company’s website.  Too, it has an older type of engine, made by Tecumseh, and the identifying marks on the parts don’t match up with anything currently being referenced on websites, parts listings, schematics and the like.

Over the last several days I’ve discovered that the tiller has a horizontal shaft engine, which if you looked at it, you’d already know, but it just didn’t occur to me that’s what it was.  Horizontal, meaning the shaft that exits the engine and goes through the frame to the tines that turn.  Too, it’s a 4 stroke or 4 cycle engine, which somewhat narrows down the schematics I have to pore through to find the right parts.  Within the last day (major brain fart on my part!) I’ve been looking for the correct bolt for re-marrying the carburetor to the engine, and couldn’t find a reference to it anywhere.  It only just occurred to me to look at the wrench I used to loosen it in the first place.  Major DUH!  What was a mystery within minutes became a solved problem.  It’s a 7/16ths, 1 inch housing bolt.

This (Friday) morning I went ahead and popped the lid on the can of carburetor cleaner and let it start to do its magic.  Set my phone timer for 2 hours and let it go.  Upon opening up the can two hours later, I was pleasantly greeted with a very clean carburetor and parts.  After watching multiple videos, I’ve noticed that an O ring seems to be missing from the bowl on the bottom of the carb, but it fits very tightly against the lower section, and it wasn’t leaking before I started tearing it apart.  Having said that, I’m fairly certain that more than likely if I put the whole thing together, fill the tank with gas it will start to leak, since the gunk that was in the bowl and around it are now gone, so the cleanliness of it all will become its downfall.

Saturday afternoon after work I’ll be heading to the hardware store in search of replacement bolts for the carb, as well as some shop towels since I neglected to get them the other day at the auto parts store.  I don’t have enough rags here at the house I discovered, and cleaning the tiller has proven to be a very dirty job.  I sprayed the wheels with the penetrating oil, but the wheels are still very, very stuck.  I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope that the oil was going to work immediately, but hey, it was worth a try.

Baby steps.  I’m hoping to have it running by Memorial Day.  More to come!