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OT: Zen and the art of lawn mower repair

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  • OT: Zen and the art of lawn mower repair

    Had to finally get the lawn mower out, the grass being about 8" high and a remembered that the wheels need to be replaces.

    So after going to every place in town (which isn't many, the town only has 3000 people and not many stores) I was unable to get a set of 4 wheels. Now I had to drive 30 miles to another town that had some in stock, got back and found out the old (worn out) axle bolts didn't fit. I figured the easiest way to get the job done was to buy some 1/2" bolts and machine the ends down and thread them to the 3/8" required. Well the gremlins where out that day, the bolt material was awful, so hard in spots carbide had a hard time cutting it and then suddenly it was soft and the tool would dig in, finally got 4 of them done, not pretty but they will do the job. Had to turn up some spacers about 1/2" thick to get the wheels to clear the mower body, no trouble there.

    After I got everything together and luckily the mower started, I was about two passes around the yard when "BANG", something came shooting out of the underside of the mower, bounced off of my ankle and the mower started vibrating so bad that I though it was going to flip over. The two little shear pins that look like rivets had let go and the blade had slide off centre. So now after going to all the local places, again, that might have these pins I finally found one set in the CT store, put the mower back together and was able to finish the lawn.

    It's never easy is it.
    The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

    Bluewater Model Engineering Society at

  • #2
    Ha,been there more than once,ever wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper and easier to hire the grass cut?
    I just need one more tool,just one!


    • #3
      AstroTurf ???


      • #4
        Blacktop the yard and paint it green, end of mowing problems.


        Mentally confused and prone to wandering!


        • #5
          I find that nothing breaks so often or provides as much machining practice as the lawnmower. Mine needs something about every other mowing. I have scavenged four discarded mowers of the same model over the years that I regularly scour for parts. Handy. At least I know it inside and out now.

          The funny thing is that it hardly ever breaks mid-mow. Needed repairs almost always reveal themselves at the beginning of the mowing session as if the act of mowing is easy enough but getting the thing started rolling is what is so hard on them. I know that isn't true, but it is rather odd.


          • #6
            One I've never seen before this weekend: squirrels chewed the top off the gas tank on my mower ( or something with similar gnaw marks, maybe some other beast,) and there is water in the fuel now.


            • #7
              lawn mowers

              I buy cheap mowers in the fall on sale - usually for about $110.
              They last 2-3 years and then I throw them away.
              I think I have 4 behind the garage I need to get rid of.
              This is a throw away (cheap Jap Crap) society.
              I cut it off twice and it's still too short!


              • #8
                Buy a car, treat it well, expect it to last 5 years.
                Buy an outboard motor, treat it well, expect it to last 10 years.
                Buy a lawn mower, treat it like crap, expect it to last forever.

                I read something like this years ago and I'm afraid it's true.

                I got a brand new mower from a friend who claims he did not get any oil with it so ran it without. That Briggs and Stratton ran 10 minutes empty before making enough alarming noises that he shut it off.

                I took it apart out of curiosity. The cam was plastic(maybe delrin). The con-rod big end was a journal bearing but there was no oil pump. There was a plastic oil slinger.

                These things are not built to last. Seastar has it down but I'd guess China is where they are built.

                My Dad always said, "If you want people to do things for you on the farm, you have to buy a machine they can sit on that does most of the work."


                • #9
                  Bought a 5 hp self-propelled Honda in 1989 and all I've done is check the valve clearance once about 10 years ago and a new set of wheels about 5 years ago. This thing starts in 1 or 2 pulls every time, lots of power, and has generally been a treat to use.

                  After having literally run the wheels off it, I tried a new Craftsman 6 3/4 hp mower....what a gutless pain in the a$$ to use!
                  It was like no one had any idea of what it took to make a decent lawn mower. The whole concept of cutting grass must have eluded the design team when they built that one. One lap around the yard and back to the store it went. Purchased a set of wheels for the old mower and it's been back on active duty since.

                  Funny how much I took it for granted until I used that $500 POS Craftsman. Mowing the lawn ain't on my top 10 list of what I would like to do today, so I try to make it as painless as possible.
                  Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                  Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​


                  • #10
                    Lawn Mower Woes

                    You're lucky you only had to replace the pins that sheared off. Both times that this happened to me on different mowers the blade hit the inside of the deck and bent the crankshaft. I did save the old mower last time and was able to use the cable that engages the front wheel drive when it broke on the newer one. Sears wanted almost $100 for the replacement cable. I also saved the wheels and wheel drive mechanism since they were in fairly good condition.
                    Fred Townroe


                    • #11
                      You're complaining about some worn out wheels? Try this....


                      For years I had a Craftsman rider that went on and on. Needing frequen repair to be sure but I too got to know every nut, bolt, pulley and part of the darn thing. Finally died for good.

                      Errol Groff

                      New England Model Engineering Society

                      YouTube channel:


                      • #12
                        I gave up mowing my yard over ten years ago, and both my wife and I are happier hiring it done. We've had good luck with the guys we've hired being reliable, doing a good job, and charging a fair price for the work they do.

                        I figure it's a bargain for the extra free time by itself, but it's expecially good since I don't have to buy, store, and maintain all the equipment I'd need to do the job as well as they do. Another plus is that they're done in a fraction of the time it would take me.
                        Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.


                        • #13
                          Well, the mower is 20 years old. 4HP Quantum Briggs and Stratton engine and it runs like new, body is still in very good condition, no rust. The wheels are the only parts, not counting plugs etc. that I have had to replace.
                          The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                          Bluewater Model Engineering Society at


                          • #14
                            Back in the 80's while I was in tech school I worked at an equipment rental store in Minneapolis. During mowing months we had a guy that had a standing reservation every Saturday for a push mower. Like clockwork every Saturday he'd poke his head in the door, "I'm here, be back in a bit..." and down the sidewalk he'd go.(he lived 2 blocks away) About 2hrs later he'd come back with the mower and make sure we had the week written down.

                            One Saturday I caught him, said "when you gonna buy a mower??"

                            He says, "Why should I??" "This costs me like $6 every week. Every week when I pick up the mower the blade is sharp, the gas tank is full, the oil is full and clean. If it doesn't start you give me a different one, and if I bring it back you clean it up and store it for me till next week."

                            "Why the hell would I buy a mower??"

                            He had a point.


                            • #15
                              Best mower I ever had

                              I have a Lawn Boy that I bought brand new in 1980. I used that little sucker up until recently when I found that I could no longer get some of the parts I needed. It still runs like a watch and cuts the grass but the plastic faring that the gas tank is molded into crumbled, causing dangerous gas leaks. I will have to " kludge up" a tank that I can attach to the lower handle and it will live another 20 or 30 years. I have been through 3 sets of wheels and axles and a dozen or more blades to date. The two stroke may have been a polluter but it sure was a no nonsense engine. It was really a 5hp OMC boat engine. Too bad they don't still make them.
                              Jim (KB4IVH)

                              Only fools abuse their tools.