Rev up the small engines for spring

Scratch that spring fever itch by making sure your small engines will be ready to go when you need them. Dust off lawn mowers, leaf blowers, string trimmers, and other outdoor equipment.

Ray Bohacz is the Successful Farming Engine Man. Before you rev anything up, he says, give it a good visual once-over and make sure everything’s tight.

“Pay particular attention to the sheet metal that covers the flywheel and usually a good part of the cylinder head. It is a favorite place for mice to nest,” says Bohacz. “If the cylinder cooling fins are blocked with a nest, the engine will run hot and wear excessively. You may need to remove the cover to clean this area. Put a wrench on all accessible fasteners, especially those that attach the carburetor to the engine. Make sure they are all snug.”

Clean the air filter, check the integrity of the spark plug, rinse the carburetor with a spray carburetor cleaner, and lubricate the linkages with a clear silicone spray. Change the oil with the proper blend, fill the tank with fresh gas, set the choke, and give it a whirl. If everything’s in the right condition, it should start easily.

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Now, if it doesn’t start, Bohacz says it’s usually an engine-carburetor issue.

“When the engine sits during the winter, it has no movement,” he explains. “So, if there’s any water or debris in the gasoline it’ll settle out or precipitate out and be in the float bowl in the gas tank, and it could cause a blockage in one of the passages in the carburetor.”

Carburetor issues are usually more than most people can tackle on their own. Bohacz says the best way to ensure an easy start in the spring is to properly put your small engines to bed in the fall.

Lawn tractor batteries are often overlooked in a tune-up. Clean and tighten the terminals and charge the battery. Measure the voltage; if it’s below 9 volts, the battery doesn’t have much life left and may need to be replaced. 

After you’re done under the hood, take care of things under the deck.

Check your blades, check the belts, and grease lubrication points in the front axles and in your spindles on your mower decks. Also make sure the tires have the correct air pressure because to get a nice even cut, you want all four tires to be relatively in the same tire pressure range. 

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