Sunday, December 26, 2010

Small Engine Repair

Some guest commentary by a good friend as I lament the inability to start our 6KW Onan generator in advance of a likely blizzard. Disclaimer: This is technical satire, not technical advice.

      Today, the day of the storm of the century, is the day to open it up again and fix it. I mean, you’ve been nursing and coddling the thing for 15 years, it’s times like this when it ought to give you some payback on that already spent money, time and effort.
      Don’t even hesitate about warming it up with your space heater. Yes, it’s a good idea to do everything possible to discourage the use of the word stupid in your obituary. But don’t let that stop you from taking small chances occasionally.
      Before you have another (more liberal) go at it with the ether, it’s time to investigate whether the mice did more than just build a cozy nest. You’ve got your 2ga jumpers hooked securely to the truck battery, for nice healthy cranking, right? Pop the plug, hold it against some bare metal on the block, and turn her over. If no spark, time to wander down the mice-chewed-the-wires road. If spark, then spray a healthy dose of gumout in the carb, let evap, follow with liberal ether, and give her another good solid try.
      If the beast started for you as recently as Thanksgiving, it should definitely give at least a good solid cough from the ether. If you can only get it to run for a few seconds on the ether, pop the carb (probably only two bolts) and hose it out in upstream direction. Take off the bowl (usually just one bolt) and carefully slide off. Spread something clean below so when the float, hinge pin, and tiny needle valve fall out, you’re not digging in the dirt.
      Give the hole leading to the needle valve seat a good spray too, and eliminate a fuel delivery problem by pulling the fuel line for the carb and making sure you get good healthy flow all over your lap before scrambling to plug it back together. Or plan ahead by using the shutoff valve if you’re in a tidy and hygienic mood. As you probably know, that tiny rubber seal on the end of the needle valve (aka float valve, the alum body is often rectangular or triangular in cross section) is a common victim of ethanol in gas, but since you’ve already checked for fuel, it’s not likely to have failed and bled out all your fuel over the past month.
      Luckily, engines are pretty simple devices. You know you have compression, so when you confirm spark and fuel, and give her a good healthy crank, you’ll be warm and cozy on the hill.

No comments: