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Buying Used Mowers


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04-14-10, 12:58 PM   #1  
Buying Used Mowers

Judging from Craigslist ads, about the biggest bargain around is buying lawn mowers and such that aren't working.

A lot of people will give away such equipment, or sell it for a song because they don't want to deal with the uncertainties of getting it repaired, don't have the time or money, or have let equipment sit around unused until they are moving out and need to get rid of it quick.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to take advantage of this low priced part of the yard machine market?

 
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04-14-10, 03:50 PM   #2  
When I bought my first lawn mower I bought a used one from a rental/repair shop. It was well maintained and cheap. It was an MTD Yardmachine SP mulcher.

EDIT - I just realized that doesn't answer your question. You'd like to hear from people who buy fix-it up equipmnet from craigslist and the like. Well at least it does sound like you've got a good bead on the "why are you selling it?" aspect of this market. So I imagine repair knowledge leads directly to easy bargain(s)?

 
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04-14-10, 04:40 PM   #3  
Pushmowers are tough to buy as used. Self propelled are the only ones worth considering. You can buy a new pushmower for aroound $100. Used are only worth $50 at the most and you could easily get that much into it (carb kits,plug, air filter, oil change, blade, wheels, ect.). Self propelled are worth a bit more but still $150 tops. If buying used, go with brand names such as Ariens, Toro, ect. MTD's (Yardman, YardMachines, TroyBilt) are "Big Box Store" and won't bring much.
Lawn tractors & riding mowers bring in more $$, but they do cost a bit more to buy and can take a bit more to fix.
Look it over real good before you buy. Take a compression tester with you and a sprk plug wrench.

 
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04-15-10, 09:52 AM   #4  
For push mowers? I'll take curbside freebies, but won't pay for non working machines. Riding mowers? It's a buyer beware and be aware situation, can it be fixed for minimal money? do you have the skills to repair it?

 
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04-15-10, 01:52 PM   #5  
Posted By: SeattlePioneer Anyone have any suggestions on how to take advantage of this low priced part of the yard machine market?
Depends on how you want to take advantage of it. Are you trying to make extra income from it? or as a hobby helping people?

I do it as a hobby, my retirement therapy.

Once you start repairing mowers, trimmers, saws, and do a good job, it's all word of mouth.

I tell friends, friends of friends, neighbors, church members, I charge parts +0. Without fail, they will give an extra $20, or more.

I've picked up pushmowers next to trash cans, parked out by sidewalk with 'free' sign on them, go to garage sale and find them for little or nothing, they just want to get rid of it.

My utility MTD tractor was given to a friend of mine, who didn't need it and gave it to me.

Don't know how many riders I've got from friends who had bot new ones and wanted me to fix the old one as a 'backup'.
When I fixed it, they said 'haven't got room for it, just keep it'.
Fine, someone will come along that can use it.

Have given them all away to people that couldn't afford to buy one.

99.999% of unit's problems is carb needs cleaning, and sometimes re-kitted. Always change oil.

So, 3 things happen, 1) my therapy is satisfied, 2) help people out and 3) make a little money anyway.

I'm through now,
Thanks,

 
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04-15-10, 04:33 PM   #6  
There are too many free mowers available to buy any, I have been picking up discarded mowers for several years and fix them or use them for parts. I give a lot of them away, the nice ones I sell for $10 per hp which covers parts cost. It gives me something to do and keeps usable product out of the landfills. Besides craigs list, sites like freecycle and reuseit are place to pick up free mowers, weedeaters, etc. You need to do your collecting at the end of the season and at the beginning of the season when people don't want to store the mower or when they pull it out and realize it won't start. Spring cleaning junk day, drive through the neighborhood. Have a good one. Geo

 
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04-15-10, 11:01 PM   #7  
I trashpicked my first mower! I'm so proud.


I found an old early 90s Ariens 21" self propelled mower upside down in the ditch beside a state highway.

It has a 5HP Tecumseh engine. I've repaired several things that weren't working. The main barrier right now is that I can't get the engine started except by pouring gas down the carburetor throat.

I've cleaned the Tecumseh carb three times now. After losing and thus replacing the carb needle clip, I was blowing out the carb again tonight and blew the needle and clip lord knows where--- so I'm going to have to buy a second carb kit!

I've found three holes for the main jet, one in the bolt to hold the bowl on and two in the hollow part the bolt screws in to.

My skill in cleaning the carb may not be worth much, but I'm getting good at R&Ring the carburetor!

I really struggled to get the linkages on the first time ---now it's easy! Nothing like a little practice....

I looked it over with a magnifying glass looking for more holes to clean, and I've blown out all the jets with carb cleaner and compressed air. Starts fine when I throw gas in the inlet.

What am I missing?

 
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04-15-10, 11:53 PM   #8  
Posted By: SeattlePioneer I trashpicked my first mower! I'm so proud.


What am I missing?
Model numbers

 
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04-15-10, 11:59 PM   #9  
Oh yes---

It's a Tecumseh TVS120 63096F Ser 9081A

 
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04-16-10, 12:15 AM   #10  
What "several" things did you repair that were not workin?
You found it upside down? Did you change the oil? Clear the combustion chamber? Change the spark plug? Is the air filter wet?....

 
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04-16-10, 08:50 AM   #11  
The tiny hole at the top of the bowl nut(main jet) is usually the problem, there are several styles and on some the hole is almost invisible as it sets right at the thread line. Use the photo below as reference only. Have a good one. Geo


 
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04-16-10, 10:30 PM   #12  
Hello geogrub,


Thanks for your help.


With the idea of being thorough and not being stupid, I got a new toothbrush sized wire brush that has much finer wires than a bigger brush.

I polished up that nut until it SHINES!

Then I examined it with care, using my trusty magnifying glass, a good light and more patience than I usually have. Result: there's only one hole in the bolt.

That one hole is really tiny. I can't get light to shine through it to check it visibly, but I've blown it out with carb cleaner and compressed air several times and cleaned it out using a wire from a wire brush. I'm satisfied that it's clean.

This bolt has one set of threads at the top.

Then there's the "tower" that the bolt screws into. That's steel, I presume. I polished that up with the wire brush too. There are two holes in that, both visibly clean.

I also blew carb cleaner through the jet that extends up into the venturi and blew it out with compressed air ---both several times. I can blow through that jet with what seems like a normal amount of effort. Squirt carb cleaner in from the bottom and it easily comes out through the jet in the venturi.

I went out and bought a new kit with a needle and clip in it, after losing the one I had last night while enthusiastically blowing everything out with compressed air, including the needle and clip! I'll reassemble this carb for the third or fourth time and give it another try tomorrow.

I also got some new fuel line and will replace the old one when I reassemble it.

As I said, I'm trying to be thorough and not be stupid by failing to notice something that's there. Tomorrow I'll see what kind of grade I've earned. So far, only a good grade in "persistence."

I found that carb plugged with a lot of junk, though.

 
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04-17-10, 03:49 AM   #13  
Taking it that you are somewhat still a neophyte at mechanicing these little engines, have you learned where to download service manuals for these little guys, and the websites where you can download the IPLs, (Illustrated Parts Lists) ??
Let Geo know, he can tell you .....

 
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04-17-10, 07:50 AM   #14  
Here is a manual that will cover most Tecumseh's, looks like yours is in the list as well...

http://www.cpdonline.com/692509.pdf

 
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04-17-10, 08:00 AM   #15  
Then there's the "tower" that the bolt screws into. That's steel, I presume.

See if a magnet sticks. I bet it won't. Most carbs are made of aluminum or "pot" metal.
I soak all carbs & main jets in a carb cleaning solution for an hour or 2. You can buy a gallon at any auto parts store. About $50 with dipping basket. By soaking, you get into the internal passages that you can't even see. Never had 1 come back and have been told the equipment runs better than it ever has.

 
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04-17-10, 08:03 AM   #16  
Yes, I have found the manual and places to download the parts list. A big help was finding good illustrations of how to connect up the carburetor linkages. It took me some careful study of that before I was satisfied I was doing it correctly.

Now that I've done that task several times ---it's easy!

If I get a chance I'll reinstall the carb today and see if it will work for me. I can't see that I've really improved anything over the last time, but I can't see anything else to improve either.

It seems to be a little peculiar to have holes one tiny hole in the bolt and two small holes in the "tower" in the carb that the bolts screws into. But there it is.

Thanks for the help and ideas.

 
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04-17-10, 08:25 AM   #17  
These lil carbs can be sensitive to intake leaks. Easiest way to remove the carb is to remove the intake and carb as one unit.
The bowl gasket needs to seal also or it can cause issues. Sometimes I have had some of these that just will not work and need replaced, regardless the amount of cleaning.

 
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04-17-10, 09:09 AM   #18  
Posted By: BFHFixit These lil carbs can be sensitive to intake leaks. Easiest way to remove the carb is to remove the intake and carb as one unit.
The bowl gasket needs to seal also or it can cause issues. Sometimes I have had some of these that just will not work and need replaced, regardless the amount of cleaning.

I reused the o ring between the carb and the air cleaner.

There are also gaskets ate the engine and at the downstream end of the carb ---should those be replaced as well?

And I'm not sure if you are suggesting that the bowl be replaced as well, even though it looks fine. I did use a new gasket between the bowl and carb.

 
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04-17-10, 10:39 AM   #19  
Oh. Just a reminder that the engine started and ran fine when I tossed some gas into the carb. I'm supposing that gasket issues are unlikely if the engine runs then?

My supposition is that it's just not getting fuel. When I remove the carb, the carb bowl seems to have plenty of fuel in it, so supply to that point seems OK. And the engine runs when I throw has into the venturi.

That seems to leave the carb as still being plugged up. Does that sound right or am I missing something else?

 
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04-17-10, 12:58 PM   #20  
If you intend to do this even as a hobby, help your self out and do some searching on how small engines work. There is enough detailed info on the web for free, even some of the manuals like the one I linked to, have very good theory of operation explanations.

The intake gaskets, and yes, the bowl gasket, not the bowl, will play a part in creating vacuum, which, if you understood the theory of operation already, you would know, is what sucks the fuel from the bowl into the throat/venturi of the carb.
Sometimes the bowl will pit where the bowl gasket seats, and that can be an issue as well.
If the intake gaskets do not seal, then the vacuum created by the engine, meant to suck fuel/air, can not reach the carb with enough -pressure....
Beer 4U2

Oh P.S.

Does your Tecumseh have a primer? If so, it should also start and run for a short bit just from priming it and even continue to run if you keep pushing the primer. If the primer is not working, that is a sure sign of the bowl or bowl gasket being an issue. Since the primer basically pressurizes the fuel bowl to force fuel up the emulsion tube.

 
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04-17-10, 05:10 PM   #21  
BFH--- thanks for the ideas.

I am reading and learning.

I hadn't considered the important role the gasket and bowl perform as you describe. I was figuring that if it didn't leak, it was OK. I did put in a new gasket to get a good fit.

And depressing the primer bulb doesn't force fuel into venturi, and pumping the primer bulb repeatedly wont allow the engine to start. I can hear it forcing air into the carburetor someplace, but I hadn't paid attention to where that was happening. Actually I'm probably hearing the air leaking OUT of the carbuiretor! The air could easily be leaking out the bowl and gasket.

So that suggests that the bowl may be the problem, just as you describe, or at least that's something that needs to be investigated. I might try squirting some soapy water around the carburetor bowl and gasket while I'm pumping the primer bulb and see if I get some bubbles. That would seem to be a way of identifying that problem.

That also suggests that perhaps I haven't been tightening the bowl nut enough to get a good seal.

So you've given me several good ideas that might be causing the problem, and ways to test the theories. I hope this suggests I'm thinking about these issues carefully.

Hey! the idea of using soapy water to check for leaks around the bowl sounds like it might be a good one. I don't recall reading about that as a testing method. That's a method I'd use to look for leaks during my furnace repair days.

Thank you for your help.

 
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04-17-10, 09:37 PM   #22  
Is there fuel in the bowl when you remove the carb?
Any chance you can take a photo and post it?

 
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04-17-10, 11:00 PM   #23  
There was definitely A load of fuel in the carb bowl when I removed and drained it each time I removed the carb after trying to get the engine started.

Tonight I polished and inspected the bowl. There are a couple of small pits, but not in the area of the area that meets the gasket.

Before I snugged up the bolt holding the bowl in place, this time I reefed on it a bit to put more pressure on the gasket.

I'm thinking of connecting it to the fuel tank and using the separate primer bulb to pressurize the carb and see if I get fuel coming out the venturi or just hear the air coming out as before.

If it's just the air I'll try to see where that is coming from.

From what I can see, there are only three ways to access the carburetor bowl (when things are sealed up)---- the fuel inlet, primer inlet and main jet going up into the venturi. At least if I plug the jet and primer hole and blow into the fuel line, I don't appear to get any other air leakage.

So if I connect the fuel tank and let the bowl fill by gravity, and pump the primer bulb, I ought to get fuel up the venturi just as you suggested in your earlier post. If I don't and still get air leakage perhaps I'll be able to see where it's coming from if I'm testing it off the engine.


I'll see if I can get some picture of the carb tomorrow and post them. I provide information to DIYers on furnace repairs on the gas heating and oil board on DIY.com all the time, so I know the value some pictures can have.

Just pictures of the carb? Anything in particular you'd like to see?


From your earlier post,


Yes, I changed the oil, cleaned and oiled the air filter. I didn't change out the spark plug, it looked OK and wasn't fouled. I found the idler pulley for the self propel system seized up and it had damaged the pulley some --- I lubricated it to turn and figured I'd worry about that later if it was an issue.

Since it will start easily with fuel tossed in the venturi, I figure the engine will run if it gets fuel. That's really my goal at this point ---I'll worry about other issues once I get that far.

I replaced some other bolts and such that were missing from the handle and cut out a worn part of the rope for the recoil starter.

This mower is no prize. It's main value to me is as a learning tool.

And thank you for your ideas BFH! I was driving myself nuts looking for additional ports to clean. Your suggestion to look for leaks gave me a new avenue to investigate. So far, it looks promising.

 
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04-18-10, 11:18 AM   #24  
Fired Up!

Oh, goody!

After reassembling my carb and tightening the main jet bolt good 'n tight, I tested it by draining fuel into it from the fuel tank before installing it.

This time, pushing on the priming bulb brought spurts of fuel into the venturi, just as BFH Fixit suggested. So I wasn't surprised when it fired right up after reinstalling it. Not surprised, but pleased and satisfied.

I think I just didn't have the bolt tight enough to seal it properly, and didn't have a way to recognize that defect and test it until BFH Fixit helped me out.

The self propel feature worked like a charm --- for about five minutes. Then it threw the idler pulley that I'd greased to get it to turn. I suppose I didn't tighten that bolt enough either!

So now it's a push mower, since I can't find the bolt, nut and such.

I mowed my front yard with it, and it works pretty decently for something that was upside down, abandoned in the ditch of a state highway earlier this week!

Thank you BFH Fixit for putting me on the right track and teaching me a valuable lesson about carbs! And thanks to everyone else who offered help along the way.

We are having nice sunny weather here in Seattle this morning, and I had a nice day finishing this up.

I'll see if I can post the pictures I took, not that it's a "looker."

 
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04-18-10, 12:35 PM   #25  
Here are some pictures of the carburetor and mower.



Not much of a mower, but I learned a lot!


Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket

 
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04-23-10, 06:06 PM   #26  
New symptoms for this same old Tecumseh engine.


These days it starts fine with by using the priming bulb, but then the engine dies after running a few seconds.

Starts it that way four or five time until it warms up a bit and then it runs strongly and normally, and will start and run just fine.

Do I need to clean the carb again, or does this suggest some other problem?

 
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04-25-10, 06:50 PM   #27  
Sounds like you might need to clean the carb again, probably because there is crud in the fuel tank that is continuing to plug things up or the fuel lines are crudded up inside. I applaud your efforts to get this mower running again. It takes patience and perserverence, but it feels so good to get one running again, when others gave up on it.

 
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04-25-10, 08:23 PM   #28  
Thanks for the suggestion. This is a plastic tank, and I put fresh gas in, shook it up and emptied it out several times, but perhaps I need to do it some more.

I'll also try draining the fuel into a jar so I can see if there is any contaminated debris in the fuel.

I think I'm also going to buy some carb cleaner for immersing parts. It may be that despite my liberal use of spray carb cleaner it's still not doing the job.

And I've taken this Tecumseh carb apart 6-8 times now. I'm getting good at taking it apart and putting it back together again, even if I still haven't managed to do the job properly, yet!

 
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