Wheelbarrow

A wheelbarrow is a lot like a roto-tiller, it has a specific time and place for usefulness, and for the most part sits around unused until it’s needed.  The wife brought into the marriage the one she’s had for 40 plus years, it has a wide barrow (tray) and just one solid wheel like most traditional ones have.  Two steel bars make the handles, they wind down and around the tray underneath and are bolted to the frame that constitutes the ‘feet’ and support the wheel mechanism.  When it was new it was a cheery red, now it’s a mottled rusted color with small patches of the original red peeking out from the patina.

It also is very worn down over the years.  The wheel is somewhat cracked, there are two bolts sheared off on the underside and within the last two weeks the hollow steel bar that makes the right handle has finally rusted through and broken, just under the tailong edge of the barrow.  Part is still supported by the bolts, and the other part sort of swings free.  Getting it welded might be a bit of a chore, but the wife believed that there was a cheaper/easier way to accomplish this, with a product called ‘JB WELD‘.  Granted it’s a substance that I’ve never used before, and a friend of mine informed me that it might work, but it won’t necessarily be as good a fix as someone spot welding the two pieces of metal together, either with a mig or tig weld.  Since I know literally nothing about the ins and outs of welding, I’d have to find a place that did the work, and would be interested in fixing a 40 yr old wheelbarrow.  Not the easiest task in the world, mind you.

From what I’ve been reading, the process is pretty straightforward.  Get the pieces in line, clean up the rusty area and then mix and apply the product around and over where the break is.  Then let it sit for four to six hours to cure.  After that, it should be good to go.  Having viewed a few YouTube videos, I can see that it will probably stand up to light use, but any heavy loads would end up probably breaking it all over again.  So in the meantime, we’re shopping for a new wheelbarrow.  Which has proven not to be the easiest thing either.

When I was growing up, my Dad had a pretty sturdy model, it was green, had oak handles and the tire was pneumatic, in other words, like a bicycle tire, it had an inner tube inside.  Why I decided to part with it I have no clue, but probably because I was moving across the state and didn’t really have use for it anymore.  So it got either sold, or left behind when we moved out of the parents’ house in 1992.  I didn’t see any sign of it when I visited the property in 2017.  So either it rusted out, or someone else is using it now.

With my birthday coming up, the wife has decided this is going to be my birthday present.  But even though I’m likely to be using it mostly, it needs to be a design that she can easily use as well, and we’re not alike in terms of size, ability to lift and so on.  So a traditional one-wheel model isn’t going to be sufficient, it needs to have a sizable (preferably steel) barrow, two wheels for stability and the ability to go over a curb or impediments without tipping over at an inopportune moment.  Having looked over the wares the nearby Lowes had to offer, and searching on Amazon, its not as easy a prospect as I would have thought.  Most of the ones on Amazon are similar to one another, the vast majority have poly or plastic barrows, and the wheels are either solid pieces or they’re not well supported underneath.  There was even one that came directly from China that was going to take two MONTHS to arrive.  Yeah, no thanks on that one.

I increasingly have a difficult time believing that this has to be as hard as its turning out to be.  It’s a wheelbarrow for crying out loud.  Reading the reviews of the ones people have bought, one is good for getting over obstacles, but the tray is made of flimsy plastic and under load bends and buckles.  The next one has a steel tray, but the wheels are worthless and it doesn’t have an adequate support system to allow someone to believe it would last more than one season.  Seriously?  Our friends in North Carolina sent us a picture of the one they have, it looks quite nice and versatile, and using Google image search I was able to find the exact model….except that it’s only available in Canada.  And they won’t ship it across the border, you have to drive to one of their stores in Toronto and purchase it.

Today I took a suggestion my wife had and ran with it.  Her idea was going to the local Tractor Supply store, surely they would have several to choose from or at least look at.  After work I drove over there and….nope.  Not a one.  I asked one of the clerks about the lack of wheelbarrows and he suggested I could order one online, have it shipped to the store and pick it up when it arrived next week.  Thank goodness I don’t have a project I wanted to do today that required use of one.  Sheesh.

I went to the online TSC site and that site insists there’s the right one in store.  Unbelievable.  I was just there!  I guess I need to go back tomorrow and find someone that actually knows what they’re talking about.  Oy.

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!