Jari Mower rehab, rhubarb pie

The grass is growing rapidly and Saturday was a washout, so I took advantage to make some repairs to the Jari mower that  I bought for $125 two springs ago.  It has worked well for us, but the carburetor has been loose on its bolts for a while, and they were frozen into the cylinder so I couldn’t tighten them.  The two bolts holding the carb to the cylinder were hex head bolts so tightly housed in the casting that it wasn’t possible to get a wrench on them, so they were also cross-slotted for a large screwdriver.  The whole thing was clusterific, so I ordered a box of 1/4-20×3/4″ socket head cap screws from McMaster, and shortened the short end of an allen wrench so it would fit into the available space.  I cleaned up the mating surfaces as best I could, and reassembled with lock washers and some loctite (not sure how the loctite will do on a hot engine block), and with fresh gas and a shot of ether it fired up and ran happily.

sprag-clutch

I also cleaned the chaff out of the flywheel fan assembly; Jari adds a perforated steel intake screen over the flywheel, but there’s a hole in it where the recoil start enters, and it still sucks in an incredible amount of grass.  The centrifugal ball clutch is protected by a second, finer screen and a rubber bushing, but amazingly even that manages to fill with fine organic matter, to the point where the balls lodge in the clutch housing and won’t catch.  It’s gotten to be a sort of set routine to unbolt the flywheel cover (7/16 ratchet), remove the cover (1/4″ nutdriver), pry off the retainer cover (Swiss army knife), clean out the dust, and reassemble.

When I got the mower there was as much water as oil in the crankcase and it hadn’t run for years; at this point I’ve spent several hours fixing up this mower and I’ve developed something of an affinity for it. There’s something endearing about a small engine that seems to want to run.  The annoyance of keeping at least a half-dozen small engines running around a typical homestead (tiller, sicklebar mower, rotary mower, log splitter, generator, water pump) makes me think from time to time about a nice powerful BCS walk-behind tractor, but at $1500, the cost of just the log splitter attachment for the BCS is greater than the cost of many stand-alone log splitters  – of course you don’t get the cachet of the fine Italian engineering.

What would be really great is if Marcin Jakubowski and company over at Open Source Ecology would design a good open-source walking tractor, rather than trying to re-invent the skid-steer loader.

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