Good books on Small Engine repair


Old 06-06-01, 10:35 AM
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As you have helped in the past, I'm looking into what I need to do to get my "recycled" Little Wonder gas edger back into service. Recall that I obtained this from a neighbor that discarded it. It has a 3.5 Horse B&S horizontal shaft engine. It must be a 1994 or 1995 model unit as it has an engine build date of December 1994.

I got it to run, but as posted before it leaks oil. I think it leaks down the back, but a possible blown head gasket was rooted as a possible cause. The engine also runs choppy which makes me think it might also be losing compression as well. I figure that a cleaning and at worst a 5 dollar gasket might get me a good machine for a few years. Other than that, it seems like an OK unit. The blade was even sharp when I got it. I'd like to take a crack at fixing this thing. I put two new belts on it. I would like to rectify that oil leak though, as it's not fun to use a unit that drips oil as you use it. Lol.

What good books are recommended for small engine service? I see that and even my local library have a book on Briggs and Stratton engines, which I believe was written by a guy that knows them or had worked for them in the past. I know Briggs puts out their own service book too. I'm really looking for a "Chilton" type book on small engines to add to my library. In the past, Chilton was pretty good for automotive books. Not so much so now .

Any recommendations? What course of action would you suggest in nailing down this leak? A quick inspection of the vent tube showed some oil packed in that area around the tube, but I didn't see anything indicating a clogged vent tube. It does seem to be leaking around the back of the engine. Since the head comes off seemingly easy on this, I bet I'm going to find a blown gasket when I take this thing apart. Looks like about six bolts and I'll have it sitting in my hands.

I'll probably need your input on the torque sequence or general rule to follow when doing that when the time comes.

Your input on whatever manuals might be of use during this repair are appreciated. I'm going to start with what the public library has. I believe that one book written by Chilton (the guy's name escapes me, but I believe it was even endorsed by B&S) seems like a good one!

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Old 06-06-01, 08:26 PM
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Hello Joe

Excellent books on various small engine power equipment can be found at your local small town book shops. A visit to a few lawn mower repair shops may offer you some book choices also. Try the local library.

Pertaining to the oil leak:
Could be a small pressure buildup in the crankcase do to a restricted breather. This part is located in the back of the engine. Also check for a restriction in the breather tube going into the carb.

Your on the correct track attempting to locate the oil leak. It could be a head gasket as you suspect if you also suspect low compression.

If your successful locating a generic repair manual, it will explain the torque sequence and tightness. If not, I will go to the lawn and garden small engine shop {which I no longer own} and get the information.

The general torque rule is EASY!...hahaha...broken head bolts are a $#@#$%*&@@!!$#@! to deal with and destroy's the ego! OOOPS! AAAAAHH! S...!!!!!

Good Luck,
Small Engine Service and Repair Technician.
Personal Quote:
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it until it is broken!"

[Edited by Tom_Bartco on 06-07-01 at 07:53]
Old 06-07-01, 03:50 AM
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Hello Tom,

Last night I took a peruse to the local library and found some great books on small engine repair and maintenance, one of which was written by B&S people .

I would encourage anyone to peruse their local library, as they usually have a gold mine. And, your tax dollars fund it, so why not...

Yes, if you can get the details on the engine sequence and torque values, I would greatly appreciate it. I will post the details of this engine later on. I have the manual downstairs with the serial #s and model numbers on it.

Thanks again. I will let you know how I make out. I am thinking to take the head off for another reason: When I got the unit, it had the wrong spark plug in it. My thinking is that the wrong plug runs at a different temperature and can cause excessive carbon deposits. The right plug for this engine is a Champion J19LM, confirmed by Champion and Briggs

Old 06-07-01, 04:41 AM
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Decabonizing Combustion Area

Hello: Joe

Yes! The incorrect heat range spark plug {too cold} will allow the accumulation of carbon deposits in the cyclinder heads. So will running the engine on too rich a fuel mixture. Neither is good for obtaining normal engine life.

Once the head is off, decabonizing the piston crown can be done on a wire wheel inserted into the chuck of a drill motor. The cyclinder head can also be done this way also, if a table top grinder with a wire wheel is available.

When cleaning the piston, be positive both valves are closed and absoultely no carbon remains within the cyclinder. Remaining carbon is so hard it can score the cyclinder walls. I suggest you rinse it out with WD-40 or a similar product.

Then once the entire job is completed and the engine is ready to be run...STOP! Change the oil! Unforseen cabon dust may have gotten into the crankcase. Best to remove any prior to firing up the engine.

Since there isn't any mention that the book sources I have posted where of any real valve to you, I will delete that section of the posting. Advertising for those companies wasn't nor isn't my style...
Old 06-07-01, 06:37 AM
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Thanks Tom !

Will do and am on it. Yes, the fellow from Champion said the same thing when I called their tech line. He stated that the plug in there was wrong. Not sure if it was too cold or too hot of a plug, but it was wrong

Have the wire wheel for the drill. I was going to do it by hand out of fear of ruining the gasket sealing surfaces...but I will try it.

I suppose on the cleaning of the cylinder, I can use the starter cord or turn the flywheel to close the valves? I was glancing at this in the B&S book last night.

Want to get this thing going for curiousity's sake now

Will report back...
Old 06-07-01, 11:59 AM
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Piston At Top Dead Center Both Valves Closed


You got it. Rotate the flywheel or use the starter rope. either way works fine. The objective is to get the piston to top dead center.

Note to be concerned with the wire wheel causing damage to either the cyclinder head nor the piston. Won't happen. Did it this way always in the shop.

Vales closed prevents debris from entering under the valves and becoming lodged in the recessed portion under the valve head where the push rod etc is.

In general, throughout the entire processes, do not work too quickly just to get the job done. Proceed slowly if never done before. Failure to do so could quickly ruin an otherwise good engine and throughly deflate a mechanics EGO!!!!!....etc....haha

Old 06-07-01, 05:08 PM
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The "numbers"

Hi Tom,

Here are the numbers off of the engine:

Model #91232
Type 012901
Code 94122103. This should mean this engine was made on 12/21/94, making the edger probably a 1995 model.

If you could dig up the torque specs and order I would be eternally grateful.

Old 06-11-01, 05:10 AM
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Small engine repair book

I'm looking at a Chilton book as I type. "Small Engine Repair 2 - 12 HP. Published 1993. ISBN 0-8019-8323-1. Good luck.
Old 06-11-01, 05:56 AM
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Does this book list the torque specs and sequence of any machines? I think I ordered this one from the library, and am waiting for it.

When I go to the small engine shop, I will ask the guy if he will give it to me.
Old 06-11-01, 08:37 AM
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Thumbs down Wonderless Little Wonder

I just took the blower housing off and got my answer Lol.

I see a ton of oil around behind the flywheel area. Also, when I turn the crankshaft counterclockwise it doesn't even spring back...according to the B&S manual, this is not good.

One thing additional that has made up my mind that it is not economically feasible to fix this engine: There is a lot of play in the crankshaft. At any given point I can pick it up and it moves quite a bit laterally or up and down. I thought I also heard knocking when I had it running as well. Probably has more internal problems as well .

I think what I will do is retain the frame for a little while and see if I can find a replacement engine for it. If not, I will scout garage sales for good ones, or, call up the guy I found for my uncle. This guy gets new equipment from places like Home Depot (I'm guessing) that have some damage. Perhaps some missing parts or a display model. My uncle got a lawn mower with a bag from him for 55 bucks, but it has dried concrete spilled on the body. Runs and looks new though!

Old 06-13-01, 06:35 PM
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If I can convince my handy friend at work to give me a hand going through this, I might take it apart for an exercise in "failure". B&S actually publishes a book on common engine failures. Lol.

I was looking up some prices for B&S parts for it and depending on what's damaged, things are pretty cheap for it. A gasket set is 13 bucks, I'm guessing I have a bearing problem (allows the crank shaft to move around like that...

It helps to have a handy friend around. I will learn alot if I can convince him to let me take it in the shop to dismantle and repair it. I almost want to buy the parts and give it a whirl to see how hard it is....


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