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!

Go, Go, Gardening!

garage-plotEven though the roto-tiller is down, that doesn’t stop the process of gardening around here.  We have a bevy of other non-powered tools to break ground, so that’s being used while I figure out the intricacies of the machinery.

Friday was my other day off for the week, and it was warm enough that we decided to do a little shopping for plants and other sundries that would be needed.  Too, I have a fledgling plan about building a raised bed off the garage.  For the last couple of years there’s been a bunch of leaves and other stuff there and it’s been a bit unsightly.  I measured the area that needs to be utilized, and it’s going to be rather narrow, but it can be anywhere from 8 to 10 feet in length, which will make up for it.  The reason it has to be narrow is that there’s a property line I have to contend with, that’s pretty close to the foundation of the garage.   When we first lived here, I had wondered why there was just a one bay garage, but quickly discovered the reason.  The property line is too close to have expanded any building outwards to accommodate more than one vehicle.  Behind the garage is the outline for what may have been a small outbuilding or barn in the past, there’s a concrete pad and what’s left of the foundation.  It appears to be rather old, certainly not cinderblock, more of an amalgamation of stone and some sort of really old mortar.  Even so, it has held up rather well over the years, and if I had access to a jack hammer, I would have gotten rid of it a while ago.

There are several places locally where we can get plants.  One we frequent more often than the others, generally because their prices are pretty reasonable.  Another one further afield has an ice cream stand attached and they sell plants on the side for the most part.  They have good prices on hanging baskets, certainly better than most of the other greenhouses and garden centers.  Our plan was hit the ice cream stand place first, then the other place on our way home.  My wife informed me that the first place opened at 2 pm, so we headed in that direction about 2:15.   Only, when we arrived, the sign outside said that they opened at three,  not two.  Oops.    Needless to say, neither of us wanted to sit around for 30 minutes, so we decided to take a little jaunt further east to another greenhouse we knew about.

They had a pretty good selection, except their prices are a little higher, and their offerings (as we found out later) were a teensy bit deceptive.  Most places sell things like marigolds in 6 packs, but this place sold them in individuals.  So instead of paying $1.99 for 6 plants, I ended up paying $1.49 for ONE plant.  Even if I had purchased 8 for their ‘discount’ price of $1.29/each, I’d still be paying more money for the plants that I wanted.  Granted their plants are very healthy looking, larger than at many of the places, but the sum total of what we spent there for what we got made my eyes water at the register.  I suppose there’s a good reason we don’t do more of our shopping there!

After spending about 45 minutes there, we returned to the ice cream place.  We had been there on Wednesday, and had spotted two very nice hanging baskets of petunias, in black and yellow that both of us had liked.  We didn’t get them at the time, figuring they’d still be there when we went back.  Except, they weren’t.  There were several others that piqued our respective fancies (I thought about getting two purple and yellow ones, but I think it was better that I didn’t, I needed a more suitable reason than the colors are the ones from my high school!) but in the end all we got was a Bougainvillea.  I had looked over the marigolds they had but they didn’t look especially healthy.  We’re going to take a trip (probably this coming Wednesday) to the greenhouse we visit most often and probably round out what we’re going to be getting for planting purposes.

The gardens are slowly starting to come together.