|Last summer a neighbour asked me whether I would like to try my luck by taking over his old riding lawn mower, a SEARS Craftsman LT11. The beast, as I have started to call it, is well into its 3rd. decade, making it an 85-87 model. It sports a Briggs & Stratton engine with 11hp. Though there has been a lot of clattering from the mower blades, it has done a fine job throughout the last summer. The main problem, being the reverse gear didn’t work, had only once led to me getting stuck in a corner. I had managed to get it in neutral, and manually pushed it down into the open again.|
The beast had been put away under cover for the winter and waited there without any gas in the tank, until spring weather had brought out the grass again.
Amazingly, come May month, it had started up right away, once I had poured fresh gas into the tank. However, a few weeks into the grass-growing season I had noticed an increasing sputter in the engine. Once in a while a big bang would scare the hell out of me, but the mowing knives would still clatter up and down our large lawn.
That was until before this last weekend, when the beast’s engine would suddenly rev down and die. To begin with, it would still run on low idle, but as soon as I raised the throttle the thing would stop running. And now it is not even starting anymore at all.
It would be stupid to invest a major professional overhaul or incur a +rated service cost on the beast. So instead, I have been perusing topic-related infos on the internet, hoping to find the nugget which would enlighten me as to what kind of disease has befallen this true servant of generations of lawn owners.
This fine-looking oldtimer being without its carburator for a few days.
A simple test ruled out an ignition problem. The sparkplug was still throwing sparks when I had it placed on top of the metal swing wheel cover. A compression test revealed a fresh and strong 70psi. So the patient was not suffering of heart trouble. So what about FUEL? Fuel is running by gravity from the top-placed tank and a test revealed it did pass the fuel filter easily – on its way to the carburetor.
That dirty smeary old thing on the side of the engine could very well be the culprit. A vise-grip across the fuel line prevented fuel from escaping the tank, when I removed the jet valve and the bottom fuel cup. OUCH….the fuel cup was indeed showing ……was it algae growth? Naw…maybe just fuel gunk. But dirty it was. Armed with that knowledge, I decided to pull the carburetor. Where there is gunk in the cup it can very well be in the rest of the carburetor. That internet video I had watched, clearly showed the procedure. After removal, the entire thing with all loose parts would benefit from a full bath in a solvent. So I filled one of my Walmart metal coffee cans with gas and drowned the carburetor. I am giving it a coupla days to dissolve whatever is obstructing the flow of gas to the combustion chamber. And this is the point where I had to leave the beast for starting my other homely occupation – making jam from rhubarb and strawberries.
The rhubarb had come to our house from a nice neighbour and I got a pound of strawberries from our grocer.
I kinda know that I am not going to be a world champion with making jam, but I tried to follow the advice from the internet. It’s amazing what one can learn from what other people have posted online.
So after having the rhubarb cut in small bits and soak in cold water to get the pectin into the water, I added the strawberries, some lemon juice, and lots of sugar. What ensued was a never-ending boil, which, unfortunately, did not give the desired result – but rather stayed way too runny. If there is anything I hate for breakfast, it is jam running off my toast. When finally Bea returned from work, I cowardly turned the responsibility over into her capable hands. She immediately started a roil-broil and finally filled a number of jars with the sweet stuff. Last time I checked, it was still a bit runny, but experts say that it can take up to 48hrs until it becomes usuable jam.
Maybe, by the time my carburetor is done we will have a rhubarb-strawberry jam.