The Joys of the Small Engine Mower

I own essentially two of the same self‐propelled, push‐style lawn mower made by Toro. One has an electric start that doesn’t work and runs terribly. The other other runs pretty well, but is the standard pull start. Both I have to pull start, and both require some service, including a new nylon pull chord. And both, of course, are hand‐me‐down in nature, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

The first one I was given just plain worked. It was given to me for that simple reason, because its purpose initially was simply for use as spare parts, but when I needed one it worked well enough for my use–mostly. It smoked on first start up, indicating some regular wear and tear that needed to be addressed, the electric start didn’t work, the self‐propelled drive needed a new belt but worked well enough for me. Frankly, it got me through a couple of seasons of mowing, and probably would have chugged along for a few more.

Then I was given the identical mower; wasn’t an electric start, the pull cord had been frayed and was temporarily replaced, but it worked beautifully and was very clean. This mower was a pleasure to use. I recently decided some repair and maintenance was in order on the thing. So, I went and bought an air filter, spark plug, oil, and a new pull cord and proceeded to disassemble and replace and clean the little mower that could. How did I do this without knowing mostly what I was doing?

I took apart the old, sort of working one first to see what I would need to do. And that’s the beauty of the thing. It has allowed me to tear into a small mower a bit and see how the thing works. My plan is to see about rebuilding, or at least tearing down, the Briggs and Stratton engine that it uses.

Which is why I wanted to post this in the first place. I want to know what I can do with this mower, and see how well that might translate to a larger engine.