Royally confused by neighbor's lawnmower

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Old 08-02-19, 12:52 PM
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Royally confused by neighbor's lawnmower

My neighbor, has a Troy-bilt TB230, 21" self-propelled lawn mower, with a Briggs & Stratton 725EX series, 163cc engine. She bought the mower three years ago, and apparent has been running good until now.

Yesterday, it wouldn't start so she ask me to look at it. After a dozen pulls on the rope, I got it started but it is puffing white smoke out the exhaust. It seems to be running okay, except for the white smoke.

What is confusing is the sticker on the side of the engine. It states, "Just check and add, never change the oil". I'm thinking Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot? Is this normal now? Or is Briggs simply turning a defect into a feature, by burning off the crankcase oil and having the owner keep adding oil? Anyway, should I think about rebuilding the engine, dump some Lucas Engine Oil Stop Leak in the crankcase, or have her buy a new mower with a Honda engine???

Disclaimer: I hate Briggs engines and haven't owned or worked on one in over 50 years, so I'm out of my comfort zone with this mower.
 
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08-07-19, 11:26 AM
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I have customers with 25-30 year old cheap murray push mowers. They weren't made to last, but thanks to them calling me yearly to keep them maintained and the customer taking care of them and storing them indoors, the equipment has lasted several times longer than the average. All it takes is some care. People have gotten used to the disposable society and push the agenda forward but then complain because of the resources going to the landfill and our carbon footprint and global warming, yada yada.

When you consider the mining it to get the steel and aluminum, the pollution from smelting it, making the paint, plastics, shipping, etc... Then it's finally at your door, all that damage has been done so you can keep your grass cut neatly. The most responsible thing to do would be to make sure it does it for as long as possible so that you don't create demand for all that to happen again. But the companies and retailers have convinced us we need a new (fill in the blank) every few years and then they get us to buy the newer, prettier, cheaper made, less quality item than the previous one. Now instead of selling the average family one mower every 30 years, they get to sell us five. We're the suckers here.

It's not just lawnmowers... wife wanted this new french door fridge to the tune of $3k. Well we got it and 2 years later the compressor goes bad. We find out it's a bad design and will go bad every 2 to 3 years. Now instead of the old regular type fridge we had for 16 years that still works out in my shop, I have this over priced piece of junk that has all kinds of bells and whistles and is going to fail every 2 to 3 years, hopefully when I'm at home and can catch it before everything spoils. Same with my dishwasher, the samsung 55" TV I bought, and the kenmore oasis washing machine.
 
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Old 08-02-19, 04:00 PM
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White smokes makes me think it is unburned fuel, not oil. Oil would be blue smoke. I think it was likely flooded.

A mower that is three years old should not be rebuilding unless it is used in a lawn service or she mows her lawn every day. Most residential lawnmowers only get used once a week so changing the oil is likely not required. I know many people who do the same thing as Briggs suggests.

I would see if it keeps having issues. This may have been a one-time thing.
 
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Old 08-02-19, 04:43 PM
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I love B&S motors, they have really become top quality over the last 20 years.

I have not purchased anything recent but to be honest it does not surprise me that they are going just add, even my older mowers only get oil changes every 4-5 years and the oil is still clear.

I will bet it just needs some run time and new gas and she will have many years of quality life to go.

BTW, honda is really overrated, their cars suck!
 
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Old 08-02-19, 06:58 PM
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Check the oil to see if it's way over full. If it is, does it smell like gas?

If not, run it a while and see if the smoke clears up. If so, it was likely tipped and oil filled the cylinder and muffler and it should be fine after it runs a few minutes and burns off the oil accumulated there.

Honda makes some of the best small engines in the industry. The GX series is considered the pinnacle for commercial equipment.
 
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Old 08-03-19, 04:01 AM
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The no change oil is now considered the normal procedure for most small engines. Just add as needed. What I have found most small engines, regardless of manufacturer are well made and will last a long time. It's usually all the attachments or item that the engine runs that breaks or die prematurely.
 
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Old 08-06-19, 07:35 PM
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I know this is going to start an internet storm, considering that my example is two different applications, but here it is. I had a very good friend in the automotive service business who I used for servicing my company vehicles that I did not have to service myself. I was in his shop one day and he was dropping the pan on a rather expensive Cadillac engine. He explained that the owner did not believe in changing oil, just the filters. I could see the sludge caked in the bottom of the pan that tied up the oil pump to point where it snapped the shaft that went up higher into the engine. I can see the logic regarding non everyday use, etc, but I keep my engines in my tools and equipment a long time. Sometimes I can throw away the machine and keep the engine. Do what you want, I change oil in everything at manufacturers recommendations or sooner if it suits me.
 
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Old 08-06-19, 10:39 PM
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I agree. Have you seen the new briggs engines where the oil change supposedly only takes 30 seconds? The oil filter I guess already has the oil in it and you just put it on and turn it to lock it in and done. I don't know, I haven't messed with one personally yet but it is odd. It doesn't look like it can hold enough oil for the engine.
 
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Old 08-07-19, 05:04 AM
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A car engine is a whole different thing. But a small lawn mower engine is built on an appliance that is designed to only last 7 to 8 years. Just like appliances such as washing machines and dryers they are actually being sold to last only on average of 7 years. Same for lawn mowers. The engines will far outlast the appliance without any special maintenance. So why bother changing oil. On average a small engine that is used to cut grass on average two times a week will never need an oil change. So the manufactures are saying to the average buyer, "Buy my product it's so good you don't even need to change oil, just add if necessary." What they don't tell you is that the frame, the wheels, the controls are all very cheap and most likely will break before engine oil becomes a problem.
 
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Old 08-07-19, 05:12 AM
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I think you are optimistic with the 7 years. I think many of the less expensive products are designed for only one or two seasons use.

A tenant left a push mower when they moved out. It appeared to be only a year or two old. It ran but smoked and acted like a much older engine. It was one of the cheapies where you can't change the oil. Not even a drain plug on the bottom. So I tipped it over and poured out the oil. It was some of the nastiest, dirtiest oil I've seen. Lawn equipment spends it's life working in a dusty, dirty environment. I like the idea of getting that crud out of the engine periodically with an oil change.
 
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Old 08-07-19, 05:29 AM
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I appreciate technology and what the salesmen promote, but I'll always be an oil changer. The contamination in the oil doesn't only come from the dip stick tube and the air intake like the ad claims.. It comes from the blowby on the rings and condensation.
 
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Old 08-07-19, 05:36 AM
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PD, you may be correct. But apparently the manufacturers don 't see it that way. It's actually Brigg and Stratton that are advertising the no oil change. it's their EXi series engine. Toro is using it, along with Pouline and Troy-Bilt, Powermate, Snapper, et... These are not necessarily chepos.

Every season I look at the dip stick. If it's clear I keep it. If it's black and feels a little gritty or thick, I change it. (BTW...color does not indicate oil quality, as you most likely know).

We as DIY'ers are a dying breed and are not the market target. So as a result the marketing people are selling "easy" maintenance and "less" work as selling points. And apparently it works. That's why I'm a big advocate of the right to repair movement.

But I do believe most small engines can and will survive very few oil changes and perform well for years. Gas is the bigger culprit in engine failure (as in not starting). I think there are more examples of engines running with little or no oil changes than those that break down with regular oil changes. Just say'n!
 
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Old 08-07-19, 08:18 AM
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It gets to be an extended discussion.

Not sure of how much eliminating the oil change accomplishes when it still has to be checked and maintained. Also the oil is just one of the seasonal maintenance items on a long list that includes belts, adjustments, blade sharpening, fuel, plugs, etc. They all have to be done. A lawn mower never reaches the point it's maintenance free.
 
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Old 08-07-19, 08:58 AM
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I knew I would open the worm can on this one! I think the manufacturers have to at least TRY to be in line with the competition. Few people are passionate about lawn and equipment maintenance, therefore, supposedly a maintenance free machine would be attractive to a LOT of people who have no interest in it other than just a weekly chore. I sold Toro Equipment for 38 years. I could always point as an advantage the ease of maintenance, and the plethora of manuals etc to help the customer do that. I will have to call some of the new breed to get the low down on what the new Toro Engineers think of this no oil change development.
 
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Old 08-07-19, 11:26 AM
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I have customers with 25-30 year old cheap murray push mowers. They weren't made to last, but thanks to them calling me yearly to keep them maintained and the customer taking care of them and storing them indoors, the equipment has lasted several times longer than the average. All it takes is some care. People have gotten used to the disposable society and push the agenda forward but then complain because of the resources going to the landfill and our carbon footprint and global warming, yada yada.

When you consider the mining it to get the steel and aluminum, the pollution from smelting it, making the paint, plastics, shipping, etc... Then it's finally at your door, all that damage has been done so you can keep your grass cut neatly. The most responsible thing to do would be to make sure it does it for as long as possible so that you don't create demand for all that to happen again. But the companies and retailers have convinced us we need a new (fill in the blank) every few years and then they get us to buy the newer, prettier, cheaper made, less quality item than the previous one. Now instead of selling the average family one mower every 30 years, they get to sell us five. We're the suckers here.

It's not just lawnmowers... wife wanted this new french door fridge to the tune of $3k. Well we got it and 2 years later the compressor goes bad. We find out it's a bad design and will go bad every 2 to 3 years. Now instead of the old regular type fridge we had for 16 years that still works out in my shop, I have this over priced piece of junk that has all kinds of bells and whistles and is going to fail every 2 to 3 years, hopefully when I'm at home and can catch it before everything spoils. Same with my dishwasher, the samsung 55" TV I bought, and the kenmore oasis washing machine.
 
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