Monday, April 28, 2008

Mechanically Inclined

I have never considered myself mechanically inclined. This is despite the fact that I have earned a mechanical engineering degree and have achieved a state recognized professional engineer status. The true test in my opinion is personal mechanical accomplishments.

Considering automobile repair, I have had mixed results. My greatest achievements to date have been replacing an alternator, replacing spark plugs and most recently replacing tie rod ends. While these are not trivial, they are not equivalent to engine or suspension modifications. I was happy to graduate from checking tire pressure and replacing headlights.

With motorcycles I have had similar successes. I bought a used motorcycle about 5 years ago and sold it about 2 years ago. I made tremendous strides in motorcycle maintenance after having to take it to the shop to get it started. I learned to change the spark plugs, drain the carburetor and change the battery as routine practice if the bike had difficulty starting.

This year when the lawn mower would not start, I was at a loss. This was the most basic of small engines. Pull and pull, it refused to start. I walked down my checklist and the spark plug appeared slightly fouled so I purchased a new one. With that failure, I checked the fuel system and sure enough I was getting gas via the primer which did not appear flooded and the air cleaner was not dirty. With that dead end, I searched the internet and found a suggestion for fresh gasoline. The mower fired up on the 3rd pull and I have now learned an important lesson regarding winterizing the lawn mower. Never buy more gas than you need and run it out at the end of the season.

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