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Small engine repair

 
master gardener
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I realize there are a ton of variables in this question that will make an answer difficult, but gasoline engines and me have seldom played well together.  Is it worth the effort for me to take a community college class in small engine repair?
 
pollinator
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Have you worked on small engines in the past? Is there no one around your area that can work on small engines? If both answers to these questions is yes. Then I would explore taking a community college class.

I would think anyone who uses small engines everyday would need a person who could fix and troubleshoot small engines. Also look into what business classes the college has or resources are available for starting a small engine repair shop.

Good luck!
 
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I've always been a hands on kinda learner. Gimme some tools, a repair manual and let me go at it. That being said, there's a huge advantage to having an expert who will help you with a raise of your hand.
All gas internal combustion engines work basically the same, even the ones that have computers hooked up to monitor and adjust settings. Once you have that basic premise loaded into your main brain housing unit working on small or large engines is a breeze.
As far as answering your question, there are pros and cons to a professor/professional led course as there are pros and cons to my method of just do it. So I have to ask you, what kind of learner are you? Hands on, book smart or a combination of both?
 
gardener
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I just tore one apart as a child.  Now I constantly fix them.  I've got to fix a 1916 engine once and it was a little finicky finding parts so I made the parts. The local briggs dealer tried to hire me for $25 an hour 20 years ago.  If you want I could give you 20 engines to start with.  People drop them off all the time for free.  There are just a few things they need to run, spark, fuel, air, compression and timing.  49% of the time it is a bad spark plug and the other 49% of the time it is a plugged carb.  Rarely do I ever open one up anymore.  You do make me wonder what a college class would look like.  Maybe I should teach permies these skills as part of the other farm technologies.  I have extra manuals if you need one.  I also have pdf manuals for quite a few briggs if you would like me to email them to you.  I like to make them run off of alternative fuels.  To me it is hard to tell if a college class could give you the skills of trouble shooting them.  The best trouble shooter on small engines I know have never had a single class on them, they got it from experience.
 
John F Dean
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Thanks to all for the Input. To answer a number of the questions posed, I would be the person teaching the person who teaches the business class. I taught business classes at the graduate level for a few years. That is the good and bad side of it.  I have replaced drum breaks on a car ... once.  I have rebulit a master break cylinder...once.  I know enough to hunt down gas, air, and spark if an engine isn’t running.  There my knowledge ends .  My comfort level ends much earlier.  Normally, if an engine does not start, I swear at it....  I play with it a little ..... I let it sit for a few months ....and then I take it to the shop after I don’t need it anymore for the year.   Of course, I repeat this process the next spring. ... ok, I exaggerate a tad .....but not by much.
 
pollinator
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I would say yes but it's maybe more complicated than that.

IF you are good at working with your hands and problem solving I would count small engine repair as pretty simple once it's explained and demonstrated.  So if you are ok at carpentry or electronic repair or something like that I would definitely go for it.

Suck. Squeeze. Bang. Blow.  It's easy! That will be $256.34. Your certificate is in the mail.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Dan,

OK describes it....  minimally OK.  I would not look silly using socket, but the reality is that that majority of my career in the real world was behind a desk.  
 
pollinator
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John D., I'm similar in that regard....mostly behind a desk, but tinkering on the weekend.  Right now realizing an electrical problem on a Yanmar tractor needs deeper skills than mine.  I can't recall if you mentioned what your goal is....  Is your interest to possibly start a small engine repair business or just for repairing your own equipment?  Depending on how much extra $$ you may have to play around with the repair, I've somewhat thrown in the towel and now use the "plug and pray" approach:  A new carb/tank combination for a Briggs push mower is not too expensive--- if I plug it into the place of the old combo and it solves the problem, then I now know it probably was a dirty/maladjusted carb -AND- the new tank will not be pushing bits of dirt into a clean carb.  It's an expense to be sure, but there is knowledge gained and a running mower.  Christopher S. echoed my own less practiced observations....timing (crankshaft flywheel key), spark (magneto/plug/wires), fuel (carb/linkages) seem to be the main culprits.
 
pollinator
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An alternate path: make and cultivate the acquaintance of a semi-retired small engine mechanic who loves working on engines but is tired of the BS of dealing with bosses, customers, and high pressure deadlines. He will fix your stuff for a modest fee, and gladly teach you everything he knows.

Bring fresh bread and cold beer.
 
Michael Dotson
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Dan Fish wrote:Suck. Squeeze. Bang. Blow.



The carburetor is a'carbing...
The crankshaft is a'cranking...
And the pistons, well they're working, too!😁
 
pollinator
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Taught myself a lot during the pandemic using youtube and internet forums.  If you buy a generator, pressure washer, log splitter, water pump, etc, (or a go-kart/minibike for that matter) look for one that has a Honda GX200 (196cc) engine or a chinese equivalent.  This is the engine China chose to copy and parts are dirt cheap.  The Harbor Freight Predator engines are VERY similar but not exact copies.  Parts availability seems limited to people parting them out on ebay.
 
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one trend to consider when "future-proofing" your skills...the effort to "electrify everything" is gaining momentum, for a variety of reasons.  The power density of batteries has come a long way.  They're now selling full-size riding lawn mowers with rechargeable lithium ion batteries.  There are still situations like remote locations way off the grid where gas power is the only option, but most homeowner applications are quite suited for electric and battery-powered options.  There will still be a lot of gas-powered small engines "in the wild" for years to come, but the convenience of batteries, and not needing to troubleshoot carbs, means those skills will be less in demand each year into the future.
 
pollinator
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I would say yes, based on my own experience.
40 yeras ago I was given an idea to teach picture framing to the public.
Many people lined up to tell me it would not work.
My usual methodology is to ignore that sort of advise.

The business only lasted 35 years for me  and produced a few copycats.
Proved popular and is still continuing today.

I started with a class who got free tuition and then advertised  slowly.
 
John Weiland
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Hoping to get an answer here from many with practical knowledge on small engine repair.

Experience from the distant past working on standard lawnmower engines in the U.S. (Briggs, Tecumseh, and the like) never provided insight as to the need for a "fuel solenoid".  Now it seems a standard item on  many of these, yet appears to be rather unnecessary?  I'm doing some electrical modification and it would be quite convenient to remove the solenoid altogether and replace it with either an equivalently-threaded screw and gasket or just cut the plunger within the solenoid to void its effectiveness.   The claim for the need is that it prevents 'afterburn'.....the loud pop that can occur at the point of shut-off when un-burned gas by-passes through to a hot muffler.   I do have a fuel shut-off in-line with the fuel tank to prevent any general leaking though of gas to the carb and cylinders during storage.....wouldn't that be sufficient and obviate the need for the solenoid?  Any suggestions would be appreciated....Thanks!
 
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to the op
get the educational experience it will be just another set of skills that you will have forever  learning from an expert that knows the subject matter

I saw the post about the three things engines need, but when I went to school it was these three that are needed
fuel
spark
compression
 
Gray Henon
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John Weiland wrote:Hoping to get an answer here from many with practical knowledge on small engine repair.

Experience from the distant past working on standard lawnmower engines in the U.S. (Briggs, Tecumseh, and the like) never provided insight as to the need for a "fuel solenoid".  Now it seems a standard item on  many of these, yet appears to be rather unnecessary?  I'm doing some electrical modification and it would be quite convenient to remove the solenoid altogether and replace it with either an equivalently-threaded screw and gasket or just cut the plunger within the solenoid to void its effectiveness.   The claim for the need is that it prevents 'afterburn'.....the loud pop that can occur at the point of shut-off when un-burned gas by-passes through to a hot muffler.   I do have a fuel shut-off in-line with the fuel tank to prevent any general leaking though of gas to the carb and cylinders during storage.....wouldn't that be sufficient and obviate the need for the solenoid?  Any suggestions would be appreciated....Thanks!



Is the solenoid connected to the seat safety switch in order to turn off the gas if you roll it?
 
Mother Tree
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Slightly off topic, but it's always seemed to me that most other women don't find it normal for their kitchen tables to find themselves occupied by sometimes rather large bits of engine...

 
John Weiland
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Gray Henon wrote:
Is the solenoid connected to the seat safety switch in order to turn off the gas if you roll it?



No.....   It's a re-furb in which the mower deck was removed and an ATV rack mounted on the back for hauling.  Since this unit will not pass hands to a new owner, I've bypassed all safety switches on the vehicle.   Granted one can "never say never", but between living in the flattest place on earth and our driving habits with the machine, roll-overs are likely to be a low probability.  Thank you for that insight however!
 
John Weiland
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Burra Maluca wrote:Slightly off topic, but it's always seemed to me that most other women don't find it normal for their kitchen tables to find themselves occupied by sometimes rather large bits of engine...



It's one thing to put an engine head on the space sanctified for dining, but to remove the valve cover!......... Where is Miss Manners when you need her?!

- :-)
 
Burra Maluca
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John Weiland wrote:
It's one thing to put an engine head on the space sanctified for dining, but to remove the valve cover!......... Where is Miss Manners when you need her?!

- :-)



Well that was the old head which gave out rather spectacularly on a French motorway half way back to the UK.  

Here's the shiny new one!  On a kitchen chair, because the table was full...



Valve cover had to come off so he could pull the valves out to put in the new one.  This was a couple of years ago and the Pajero it belongs to is still running well.  Though I now know at least one reason why 'Pajero' is considered a rude word in Spain...



 
John Weiland
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Burra Maluca wrote:......  Though I now know at least one reason why 'Pajero' is considered a rude word in Spain...




Ha!..... That reminds me of a short visit to Germany where they referred to either a certain model of Peugot (?)  or Citroen (?) as "the Duck".  :-)    .....it may have referred to the model below..?

CitroenDuck.JPG
[Thumbnail for CitroenDuck.JPG]
 
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2022 SKIP: Skills to Inherit Property (PEP1) event --July 11-22nd, Wheaton Labs
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