Dear Lawn Tractor,

 

Thank you for your 21 years of service to our family. Every time you cut the grass for me, I get to ride on you while the breeze cools me, watching the sparkling river, seeing how my garden is growing, or looking at the fish as we zoom past the pond. I’m grateful every time you start without complaint.

LawnTractorWM

 

I apologize for ignoring your needs especially over the past 8 years. I’m sorry for not changing your oil for 10 years. I’m so grateful that even with such inexcusable treatment, you still keep on going. Well, I did sort of have an excuse because I couldn’t get your oil plug off – it was screwed in SO tight by Chris that I didn’t have the strength to undo it. But yesterday, I was determined!

OilPlugWM

Removing Oil Plug – it helps having the right tool!

 

Luckily, my motto is “never give up” so I put all my brute force behind it, with echos of Chris saying “give ‘er!” and reminding me in my thoughts to just ‘force it’. Well it worked! And I felt the screw budge and finally start to turn! Eureka! It helped finding the right tool that would fit in the slot (among the hundreds of options I had in Chris’ tool chest). So now your engine can bath in fresh new 5W30 oil instead of that black stuff that came pouring out – all 4 liters of it……… sorry I overfilled your oil. You don’t have to apologize to me for not wanting to keep running especially when I kept adding oil beyond the safe limit.
I know you have more energy now too! That new battery must feel like a Red Bull energy drink! I realize that when you refused to start last September you were just putting your foot down and begging me to pay attention. I’m really glad that you continued to work through the long summer without much complaint even though you had every right to quit. Thanks for going on strike so I would be forced to attend to your needs.

AirFiltersOldNewWM

Left:  old air cleaner.  Right:  new air cleaner

 

Did you notice that I put in a new air cleaner? And a new fuel filter? And a fresh new spark plug? I’m sure you did because you ran SO smoothly when I cut the grass last night I almost felt that you were dancing for joy!
I was glad to clean up around your insides of all the debrise and oily dirt. And I dusted off your outside too. I promise to give you a wash soon.
My dear lawn tractor, you have been a vital part of this family helping to maintain our property over the years. You go girl! (Of course you’re a girl with THAT much stamina)

 

backyardWM

Backyard at sunrise

Lawn Tractor Repair

Well it finally happened:  my trusty old lawn tractor started acting……well, ‘old’.   I knew it was bound to happen any year now:  my ‘White Outdoor Products’ Canadian-made, 15.5 hp lawn tractor was going on 18 years old.  It’s been reliable and almost maintenance free all these years, except for a new battery in 2002.  But I have to admit, I sorely neglected her these past six years, even though I added oil and gas regularly.  When she began to be difficult to start a month ago, I decided that I had to pay attention to what she was trying to tell me.  So maybe my lawn tractor needed a new battery – easy fix, I thought.  I invested in a new battery with the correct amps and my son Darin installed it for me (he took the old battery – which apparently worked just fine – and gave me his dead lawn tractor battery to return for the refundable  ‘recycle fee’).  Great, I thought!  But next time I tried to start it, same thing.  Grrrrrr!!

 

Everything all ready to start

Okay, now it was time to roll up my sleeves and …………..check on the internet to determine what the possible problem might be.  I already figured that the obvious fixes were 1. oil change  2. fuel filter  3. air filter  4. spark plug  5. and maybe the solenoid.  Ehow and the Briggs & Stratton websites confirmed my ideas.  After purchasing the parts from Canadian Tire, I asked my 17 yr. old son Melvin if he wanted to help and learn.  It was great having someone strong who could remove seized screws and bolts easily without arthritic fingers.

First, we took the ‘bonnet’ off – the protective hood covering the engine front of the tractor.

New red Fuel Filter and Black Air Filter

With the engine manual in hand, we located the oil drain plug, fuel filter, air filter, and spark plug.  We unhooked the spark plug wire, removed it with a long socket, and then screwed in the new one.  Next we unscrewed the air filter cover and simply dropped in the new one.  Easy peezy!  Then we unclamped the fuel lines on the fuel filter and let the gas flow into a jug we had ready.  We finally got the old filter off, then replaced it with a new one, re-attached the fuel line, and re-clamped it together.

Cleaning up with rags and toothbrushes

While we had the hood off, we took old toothbrushes and rags and cleaned up the area abit.  I have to admit rather sheepishly, that I have NEVER changed ANY of these things in the last 6 years since it became my sole responsibility, even though the manual recommends an oil change and new air filter once a year.  Oops….  We left the messy oil change until last but we could NOT remove the oil drain plug.  We used every tool we had and all our (Melvin’s) strength but it wouldn’t budge.  So I had to concede defeat…………for now.  After re-connecting the spark plug, I fired it up and was disappointed that it still did the same thing!  Right then and there, I knew it was the solenoid.  Melvin had to go cut the neighbour’s lawn so I was on my own, after my lunch break.  I had a car once that just stopped working one night at 1 a.m. because of the solenoid quitting.  Back to the parts manual, I found out where the solenoid was located.  After a consult with Darin, I disconnected the battery and unhooked the spark plug again.  I removed the panel below the steering wheel easily.  The solenoid wasn’t so easy to remove – the nuts were on tight and the wires were so close there wasn’t much room in there.   But I persevered and disconnected the two nuts securing the solenoid to the tractor frame and one-by-one, removed the wires, re-attaching them to the new part as I went along.  I have a new-found respect for mechanics now.

Old Solenoid – little square gold part

 

Shiny new Solenoid installed

 

 

 

 

 

I installed the new solenoid, then re-attached the cover panel, hooked up the battery cable, re-attached the spark plug wire, then said a little prayer of hope for it to start.  VROOM!!   It fired up right away with no problems!  YES, I DID IT!   I threw my arms in the air like an athlete running across the finish line for a gold medal at the Olympics!  I have a few cuts and bruises on my arms and a very sore back, but it is a satisfying pain…….

Fixed and Ready to Go

Even though most of my 1/2 acre grass is brown and dormant because of the heat and lack of rain, I cut it for a test run anyway.  I kept apologizing to my faithful lawn tractor, for my neglect.  She had lots of pep like a new puppy – almost had to gear her down!  Thank you dear lawn tractor, for helping me all these years – I promise I’ll take better car of you from now on.

Now if I can only change your oil………….

 

 

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