Monday, September 1, 2008

Taking My Own Advice

So not too long ago I was blathering on about chainsaw maintenance and not leaving gas/oil mix in the gas tank because it goes bad quickly enough to damage the little 2-stroke engines.

This afternoon I realized that my weed wacker and leaf blower have been sitting with the same gas/oil mix I put in at least 3 months ago. The leaf blower doesn't see a lot of use, and that gas may be even older. Not a good idea.

To be safe, I drained the gas from both tanks and put in enough fresh mix to fire 'em up. I let them run long enough to warm up completely and flush out any old gas, and then drained the tanks. They were then started again to run through any remaining gas in the lines. My plan is to drain the tanks and run them dry every time I use them from now on. In theory, this should help avoid getting a varnish build-up in the carburetors. The weed-wacker has been good to me so far. It's at least 10 years old and has never needed service. The leaf blower is only about 3 years old and still runs great (as it should).

Since I was showing some lovin' to the 2-strokes, I decided to also check out the 4-strokes on the push mower and the riding mower, by checking oil, air filter condition, etc. The push mower gets very limited use and mainly sees duty mowing the ditch - it's too steep of an angle to be safe on the rider. I might run one full tank of gas through it during the entire mowing season.

All of the motors are in good shape for the remainder of this season, but I'm making a list of spark plugs, air filters, crankcase oil, bar chain oil, and gas pre-mix oil for my next trip to Menards. I want to have everything on-hand to do all of the tune-ups this Fall. If I wait until Spring I might just keep putting it off.

It's early to talk about winterizing engines, but I do have a list to follow.
1. The engines will be started and warmed up to make sure they run properly.
2. All gas will then be drained and the engine started to burn off gas remaining in the lines.
3. After the engine cools down I'll pull the spark plug and put in a little squirt of oil.
4. With the plug out and the kill-swith in the "OFF" position, slowly pull through about two cycles to fully coat the cylinder.
5. In goes the new plug and the engine is ready to hibernate for the winter.
6. The three chainsaws get their blades removed and taken in for a professional sharpening.
7. The sharpened blades get stored in a can of oil.
8. The chain bars get cleaned, coated with oil, and warpped in newspaper.
9. The 4-cycle mower engines get gas drained and oil changed.
10. Air filters get replaced on the mowers and chainsaws.
11. Mower blades get removed and sharpened.

All that stuff will probably cost me $30.00 in parts and will hopefully keep my motors happy for another season of abuse. It'll probably take about 2 hours to do all the work. I can take a small TV out into the garage to watch a Packer game and be done before the game ends.

Some people fill the gas tanks on the mowers with gas mixed with a fuel stabilizer for winter. Since all of the gas tanks on mine are plastic, I think I'm better off leaving the tanks empty. My snowblower has a metal tank which is kept full at all times, even during the summer. The reason is that the metal rusts if it gets a chance, and an empty metal tank can get moisture in it from the air, leading to a rusty tank. I've seen it on motorcycles stored with empty tanks, so I have to assume it could happen on a snowblower.

Changing subjects, a while back I mentioned the weird design of my windows - the windows original to the house. Besides never having had the trim work painted (THANK YOU, previous owners!), the top panes are hinged. To open 'em, I remove the screen from the lower pane and then flip a little lock on each side.

The whole top pane then is pushed open as shown below. The only reason I can think of for this design is that it might allow warmer air closer to the ceiling an easier way to get out in the summer. It doesn't make the windows easier to clean by any means, so that's not it.

With the top hinged out I can then open the lower pane if desired. Maybe this helps air circulate? If the top window is open the screen is useless as it has to be removed to open the top window. If the bugs are out in force (welcome to Wisconsin) opening the top window is kind of useless because the house will be swarmed with bugs.

The more I look at these windows, the more I think I want to keep them. They're a weird design, but they're all solid. They also have two panes of glass so they're reasonably efficient for their age. I figure I can remove them one at a time to completely clean 'em, scrape and loose paint, sand 'em, and re-glaze 'em. A few of them need new glass which I can cut to fit myself. Doing one window per weekend as time permits in Spring and Fall might take a couple of years, but at least they're in good enough shape now that they can wait.

Last for the day, I put the boy character to work helping me clean up under the tree I was cutting on a few days ago. We ended up with 6 boxes of pine cones, small branches, and needles. I'll take it to the yard waste recycling station next weekend. This trailer was filled twice, just with junk from the ground.

I'm much happier with the cleaned up tree now. The big thing next spring will be to find ground cover plans that like living under pine trees. A lot of plants won't grow there because of the soil acidity. I'm planning on covering the area beneath this tree and the one behind it, and extending that planting all the way up to the house (just to the left in this picture). It's all scrubby looking and crappy right now due to the lack of light. Only weeds and really thin spots of grass have been growing there for the past decade, and a lot of the area is just dirt, which does nothing to help shed water away from the house.


Iowa Greyhound said...

Your windows look almost identical to mine. Except, I don't have the cool hinge feature.

I've been told a few times to replace the windows, but they're very solid, so they'll be kept too!

Jayne said...

My neighbor Gwen is a Certified Master Gardener--impressive-sounding, isn't it?--and she has ivy planted under her evergreen tree. Looks really nice. Just my two cents.

Muskego Jeff said...

I'll take all the two cents I can get, since I know squat about gardening and it's a tough area to make things grow. Thanks for the input!

Jennifer said...

Nnifty little window! I'd keep those forever.

I didn't know that about 2 stroke engines... I'll have to go and check our chainsaw. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Lollypop trees.