Pre­pare the lawn mower for win­ter lay-off – and start­ing again in spring

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

WITH au­tumn bring­ing to an end the grass cut­ting sea­son, it’s al­most time to pre­pare your mower for any win­ter lay­down or ser­vice.

Some end-of-sea­son main­te­nance can be car­ried out with ba­sic knowl­edge, how­ever some blades re­quire spe­cial­ist grind­ing ma­chin­ery to get the best from your mower and lawn.

If us­ing an elec­tric mower it is im­por­tant to use an RCD safety plug at all times. If you are us­ing a petrol driven engine it will re­quire reg­u­lar main­te­nance through­out the sea­son.

Make sure you dis­con­nect the spark plug lead from the spark plug be­fore any main­te­nance is done. Check all drive/clutch ca­bles are in good work­ing or­der and any ca­bles are ei­ther ad­justed and lu­bri­cated or re­placed as re­quired.

Pull out the starter rope from the starter and check for any fray­ing, this could pos­si­bly be re­paired dur­ing the win­ter giv­ing you less down­time dur­ing the cut­ting sea­son. Reg­u­lar main­te­nance of spark plugs should be car­ried out at ev­ery 15 to 20 hours of use by re­mov­ing the spark plug and clean­ing the plug with a wire brush if re­quired.

An in­di­ca­tion as to how well your engine is run­ning is the con­di­tion of the spark plug. A light grey coloured elec­trode sug­gests a good run­ning engine, black coloured cen­tre of the spark plug (elec­trode) in­di­cates there is pos­si­bly an is­sue with the engine.

Pos­si­ble causes of this are blocked air fil­ter, choke stick­ing on or old or im­proper oil, which, if rec­ti­fied, would im­prove the over­all start­ing and fuel econ­omy of the mower. A spare spark plug is also a good idea and some oil to top up, usu­ally SAE30 grade oil, but al­ways con­sult the man­u­fac­turer’s guide­lines.

When the last cut is com­plete you should switch off the fuel tap on the tank and let the engine run un­til it uses the fuel in the car­bu­ret­tor and fuel line. The fuel can go stale within six to 10 weeks of sit­ting idle, caus­ing block­ages in your car­bu­ret­tor, thus mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to start next sea­son. One of the most com­mon problems of lawn mower en­gines not start­ing at the start of the sea­son is stale fuel.

Ro­tary mower blades should be checked for wear and tear. This type of blade can be filed to sharpen the blade, how­ever if there is metal fa­tigue or bro­ken parts then it is best to re­place the blade with a new one. Cylin­der mow­ers are a lit­tle more in­tri­cate in the sharp­en­ing process.

Cor­rect set­ting of the cylin­der to bot­tom blade of a cylin­der ma­chine is im­por­tant not only for a good cut but the life of the blade and per­for­mance of the lawn mower engine. If the cylin­der is set too tight to the bot­tom blade it means the engine has to do more work and can over-heat. In elec­tric cylin­der mow­ers this can lead quickly to a burnout of the elec­tric mo­tor.

Cylin­ders are bet­ter sharp­ened by a mower spe­cial­ist but you can also back-lap the cylin­der blades. All mov­ing parts should be lu­bri­cated to avoid them seiz­ing over the win­ter.

Care­ful stor­age over the win­ter in the shed or garage is best done by keep­ing the mower on a few sheets of card­board to stop any damp­ness.

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