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You need several items. The more complex the repair, the more likely you will need a tool that you don't have. This list includes pretty much everything you need to repair your small power equipment short of a complete overhaul.
Socket and wrench set. Both metric (8mm to 17mm) and standard (1/4" to /4") tools are usually necessary if you have a variety of equipment. I need metric for my Honda lawnmower and Stihl saw, and standard for my Whipper-Clipper edger. Better quality tools mean less frustration and fewer busted knuckles.
A torque wrench.
Regular and Phillips screwdrivers, in a variety of sizes.
Pliers. A variety of types is best, but you can probably get by with a pair of needle nose with a wire cutting tool and a good pair of Vise Grips.
Hammers. Both ball peen and rubber mallet.
Set of feeler gauges for setting gaps and clearances.
Flywheel puller. This should be one designed for your engine. If you are maintaining several different pieces of equipment, you may need more than one.
Spark tester. This is not a necessity, but it comes in quite handy in diagnosing problems.
If you are going to sharpen your own blades, you need a blade balancer. These are available for a few dollars at your local repair shop.
For cleaning and fluid changes you need a few items that you may already have around the house such as cotton swabs, brushes, old rags, paper towels, a funnel and a drain pan.
There are many other tools that may be needed if you are overhauling your engines including valve spring compressors, ring expanders, and ring compressors.
We can't diagnose a mower over the internet, but an engine needs three things, in the right place, at the right time, to run:
A new spark plug rarely fixes any of these things. All a spark plug does is give a gap for the spark to jump across. You can test to see if you have a spark with a simple spark tester, available for a few dollars from your local servicing dealer. If you don't have a spark, you will likely need to replace the coil assembly or, on older models, the points and condenser.
Most commonly, starting problems are related to the fuel-air mixture. Usually they are related to fuel problems, such as stale fuel, water in the fuel, or a dirty carburetor. You can reduce water condensation by keeping your gas tank full during the mowing season. Today's gasoline goes stale pretty quickly, and if you buy more fuel than you will use in 30 days, it is best to add some fuel stabilizer to your gas can. You can find fuel stabilizer at most servicing dealers. You should also make sure your fuel system is dry before you put the machine up for the winter to prevent the fuel from going bad and clogging up or corroding your carburetor parts. This means running the engine dry of fuel, and on float-bowl carburetor models, emptying the float bowl. If you left fuel in all winter, and the machine won't start, sometimes you can get it to run by emptying the gas tank and carburetor and refilling with fresh fuel. You do not need to drain the oil for the winter, and this can be hazardous, because you might not remember to refill the oil before starting the mower in the spring.
Lack of compression is a more serious matter. Sometimes it is caused by carbon buildup on the valves not allowing them to close properly. It can also indicate excessive wear on the rings, piston, and/or cylinder.
The most common problem we find with Hondas in the spring is stale fuel (see above). In addition, sometimes if the throttle cable is stretched out of adjustment, the choke won't close, making for hard starting when the engine is cold.
It is burning oil. The most common reason is that the oil was overfilled. If the mower deck has been tipped on its side, sometimes oil will get into the muffler. This will burn off in a few minutes. Incidentally, when working on a lawnmower or any similar equipment, make sure if you have to tip the machine on its side, you tip it away from the carburetor side. Oil in the muffler is not a problem, but oil in the carburetor and air cleaner is. Most older machines will burn some oil immediately after starting. This is normal. If your machine continues to burn oil after it has warmed up, it may indicate cylinder wear, meaning the need for some major service soon.
Over time, control cables on lawnmowers will stretch with use. The hydrostatic transmission on the Honda is a precision instrument. A small amount of cable stretch makes large difference in travel speed. It is a relatively simple procedure to adjust the cables yourself, or if you take your Honda in for annual service, make sure that your dealer adjusts the cables as well.
My Honda self-propelled mower has a hard time turning corners. What is the problem?
For direct (shaft) drive models, this meand you have a bad ratchet assembly in the one or both of the rear wheels. The ratchets allow for easy turning even when the self-propelled is engaged, but if one of the ratchets is worn out, both wheels will want to turn at the same speed.
There are many different types of self propelled systems using cogs, chains, belts and other devices. Some, like the Honda Masters Series, use direct shaft drive and rarely give problems other than the ones already covered. It is best to check out the parts that commonly wear out first. The problem may simply be a loose belt or chain. Often cogs or the wheels they are driving may wear down enough that there is no longer any contact between them. On Lawn Boys that use friction rollers, the rear wheels may wear down enough to give this problem. On Snappers, the rubber edged drive disk may need to be replaced or the problem may be in one of the two belts.
Assuming the line is in good condition and wound properly on the head, the problems are probably related to the length of line being used. If you're waiting until the line gets too short before you try to feed it out, there may not be enough centrifugal force to turn the spool and pull the line out. Cutting with a short line can also cause breakage. Shorter line has to flex more as it bends around trees, fences, and other obstacles. This constant flexing will heat up the line and could even cause it to melt, breaking off at the head.
If you're having trouble feeding the line and you know you don't have it too short, you might try lubricating the line with a graphite or silicone base lubricant. This will help keep the individual strands from sticking together inside the head.
Brittle line can also be due to the age of the line. Nylon trimmer line has a definite shelf life. Over time, it will become dry and brittle. Its main enemies are heat, light and time. Some of our landscaper customers will put their bulk line in the freezer or refrigerator. We don't know how well this works, but they claim it does. Our best advice is to not buy more line than you will use in a few months and store it in a cool, dark place.
There are a few possible causes. One or the more common problems is a clogged exhaust system. Two cycle engines are burning oil as well as fuel. Over time, carbon deposits can build up in the muffler or on the spark arrestor screen. Sometimes the solution is as simple as removing the spark arrestor screen, as this is often the first part to clog. The screen is not necessary for the machine to run, but it may be required on federal lands and can be a good idea in some other areas, especially during the hot, dry summers we have here in Texas. given enough time, the carbon buildup will clog the muffler as well. At this point, it's a good idea to just replace the muffler.
At least once a season, you should give your mower a complete checkup. It's convenient to do your routine maintenance at this time as well. Most people like to do this in the spring, just before the grass starts to grow.
Begin by giving your mower a light cleaning. You can use a water hose to wash off the dirt and grass clippings. Be sure to get the dried-on clippings that build up under the deck. They can reduce cutting efficiency and suction. When working under the deck, always disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug. Regular walk-behinds should be tipped away from the carburetor and air filter to prevent oil from clogging them. On riders, the deck should be removed before servicing.
Check the blade(s) for excessive wear and to make sure they are still sharp.
Check that the control cables are operating smoothly. A little spray lubricant may help.
Check the starter to make sure it recoils all the way. If it doesn't, your rope isn't too long. The spring inside has lost some if its shape.
If you have left untreated gasoline in the tank all winter, it is best to drain the gas tank and carburetor before refilling with new gasoline. First, undo the hose clamp from the carburetor and pull our the rubber gas line. Then, drain the tank, using pliers on the line to control the flow. If the line is cracked and brittle, replace it.
Don't forget to change the oil and clean or replace the air filter.
On tractors with liquid-cooled engines, you should also clean the radiator and radiator screen. Grass clippings and other debris can build up and impede air flow. We have seen engines overheat when the radiator becomes clogged.
When you are ready, fill up the tank with fresh gasoline and make sure your lawnmower runs well. If it doesn't, take it to your local repair shop as soon as possible to avoid the spring rush. Alternatively, if you have the tools and the know-how, you can try the repair yourself.
It's easy. Check engine oil level before each use, and change the oil often. Keep the air filter clean. Use a fuel stabilizer, and remove all gasoline from the mower before putting it up for long periods of time.
With new engines, you should change the oil after the first five hours of use. We recommend changing the oil about every 20-25 hours of use after that. If you are an average homeowner, that means about once per season. For commercial landscapers, that may mean once a week or more. Some tractors and commercial mowers use engines with oil filters. An oil change every 40-50 hours is acceptable for these. Of course, if you are mowing under harsh or dusty conditions, you should change the oil more frequently. Always check the oil level before mowing.
This depends on the machine. Read your owner's manual. In addition, most engines have a fill line marked on the dipstick. Do not overfill and (very important) do not under fill.
That, too depends on the machine. Use a high-quality oil such as Pennzoil. Most Briggs and Stratton or Tecumseh engines require 10W-30, while the Honda engines can use either 10W30 or 10W-40. Check your owner's manual to be sure.
As with oil changes, this depends on mowing conditions. The best way is to check it frequently, and change/clean it when it's dirty. This usually means about every 8-15 hours of use. For commercial machines, you may have to clean or replace the filter once or twice per day. It is a good idea to carry spares.
Paper and flocked filters must be simply replaced. Sponge and screen filters may be cleaned using a mild dish soap, then blotted dry. Do not clean with gasoline, as it will damage the element. If you have a sponge element, before re-installing, take a small amount of engine oil and work it through the sponge. This will help in catching fine dust that can shorten the life of an engine. Do not put oil on paper or flocked filters. It will prevent air from coming through the intake. On better quality mowers, such as the Honda HR214, filters have both a internal paper and an external sponge element. Be careful not to stretch the external filter, but if the sponge is properly and regularly cleaned, the paper element can last many years.
The best answer is, you should sharpen them when they are dull. For the average homeowner, this means about 2-3 times per season. If you are cutting in dusty areas, or are mowing more than just grass, they may require more sharpening. They don't need to be knife sharp, and even extremely dull blades will still cut, but the cut will be very ragged and can damage the grass. With a dull blade, you are beating the grass down rather than cutting it. Dull blades also require more power to do the same job.
When you sharpen your blades, it is important that they are balanced as well. If a blade is out of balance, it will cause vibrations that will eventually damage your engine block.
With a reel-type mower, the average homeowner can probably do with sharpening once a season, or even less. If the yard is kept free of rocks, twigs and other foreign objects and the bedknife is properly adjusted, a good reel sharpening can last up to three seasons. Owners of reel-type mowers know that the cut is far superior to that of a rotary, too. Instead of chopping off the grass, you are cutting it with scissors. At Plano Power Equipment, we have a reel-sharpening machine, and sharpen reel mowers every Friday night. The machine we use does a much better sharpening job than other methods. First, the bedknife is ground straight and true, then each individual reel is sharpened to match the bedknife.
Never. When it wears down, simply replace it. You should also replace the edging guide along with the blade. On edgers such as the Whipper-Clipper, with an adjustable blade guide, you should always keep the guide adjusted to within 1/4" of the level of the blade. This can save wear and tear on your blade (and your sidewalk).