Thursday, July 11, 2013

Zen and the Art of Lawnmower Maintenance

PawPaw's got an old Sears riding mower with a 42" deck.  I've had this mower since the spring of 2004, and it's a good lawnmower.  Change the oil once a year, put belts on when necessary, use non-ethanol gasoline, and it starts every time.  I think it has the original spark plug.  I don't recall changing it.  It's on its third battery.  This has been a great lawnmower for my little acre.  Normally, it takes me about two hours to cut the grass.

Not today.  I crawled on the lawnmower at 7:00 and just got off.  We had mechanical problems.  I had just begun cutting the front yard when I smelled rubber and the blades quit turning.  Well, hell, but that belt is three years old.  So, I went up the road to the small-engine place and got a  belt.  Came home, put it on, no problem. Started mowing again.  Smelled rubber.  Before I could shut it down, the belt broke.  Just Dammit.

Rode the mower into the garage, started removing the deck.  Of course, those little pins were rusted in place, hard to get out.  Finally got all the pins loose and the blade engagement spring removed.  Slid out the deck.  Started looking, found that something called the brake arm spring braket had rusted through, turned loose, then the spring ran int to the new belt.  Cussed like shipwrecked sailor.  Threw the parts in the truck and headed back toward the small engine shop.  Bought another belt, talked to the tech guru on lawnmower decks. Listened carefully. 

Went home, greased everything while it was out, commenced installing the deck.  Got it all installed, double-checked everything.  Checked it again, just for giggles.  Got on lawnmower, commenced mowing.  Looked back, only one blade cutting grass.  What The Hell?  Went back into garage, jacked up lawnmower.  Blades loose. Little bolt, not even finger tight.  What the Hell?  Cussed some more.  Took off blades, cleaned all mounts.  Re-installed blades. 

Started mowing grass.  Looked back at cut.  What the Hell?  Scalping grass down to dirt.  Mower set too low, all the way down.  Must have bumped the deck height adjustment.  Re-adjusted deck.  Finally finished mowing grass. 

This mower is on it's 10th season.  It might be time to start thinking about a new lawn mower.  Or spend some bucks reconditioning the deck on this one.  It's been a good lawnmower, but I can't do this every week.


Old NFO said...

Ouch, day's like that don't pay (literally OR figuratively)...

Rivrdog said...

Stay with your old mower as long as there is parts support. The new crap is just that, crap, or you have to "buy up" to a very high level, such as Honda, to get quality that will last. The last rider I had was 25 years old when I bought it, and it cut 2.5 acres of lawn AND threw snow in the winter. It was an ancient 1960 MTD, I paid $400 for it in 1984. Belts, batteries and grease were all it ever needed.