Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Working with what you got


She looks a little rough but she is still running
This is your basic, use-it-one-summer-and-throw-it-away mower. It was made in Vietnam, a popular destination for young, American men from the mid-1960s to the early '70s.

It was clearly a "first effort" by the manufacturer. Equally clearly, the manufacturer had no concept of how roughly Americans would use them.

That is similar to how the early Japanese vehicles were in some respects. The Japanese were late-to-the-party with respect to drink holders. In Japan, driving was a ceremony, a sacred event steeped in honor and reverance. In Japan, one did not slurp a 44 ounce cup of sweet tea while weaving in-and-out of traffic. It took the Japanese a while to figure out that American drivers perceived and used our vehicles differently than most Japanese drivers.

This mower has been fragile. Various doo-dads were attached to the main casting via screws threaded into long, fragile ears that projected from the block and were cast integrally with the block.

Die-cast aluminum alloys are brittle because they are high in silicon. The silicon is added to make the molten aluminum more fluid and to reduce shrinkage. The die-casting process also entrains air which is  then trapped after the molten metal hits the walls of the die and a skin solidifies. That trapped air causes porosity. Porosity is like the scoring on your toilet paper. That is where the part will fail.

Yes, you guessed it. One of those ears broke off.

Another failure is that the plastic piece that held the air cleaner on relaxed (wrong polymer, no mineral fill) and fell off. And shortly thereafter, the air-cleaner element disappeared.

That was fixable

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is one of those hated, disposable face masks

The final "fail" that is worth noting is that the linkage for the carburetor is exposed. Furthermore, it is oriented so if you run into a dried stalk, such as you might encounter in a garden or while mowing rough, overgrown lawn, the stalk will jam the governor and the motor will rev-up well beyond the governed speed.

I suppose it is just a matter of time before it throws a rod out of the side of the block.


  1. About 5 years ago I got a basic Murray(sp!) push mower at Wallyworld. Had it a few months and hit a low cut stump hiding in the weeds. Stalled it of course, when I tried to restart it, it felt like something was rubbing. It was, I bent the prop shaft so bad there was too much pressure against the output bearing or bushing, don't know which.
    Haul it up to the shop, flip it on it's left side so I look strait through the ejection port. Rotate prop. Oh yeah, it's BENT. Well it's dead, I've got nothing to lose. I cut a 2x4 to go through the port to shaft. Rotate the shaft so the bend is pointing at me. Hit with 6 lb hammer, repeat a lot. Straightened out so well, it doesn't vibrate or leak. Still going strong. Not sure but I would guess it's made in China. It was about $160 as I recall. Not complaining, just lucky.

    1. Murray, the AK-47 of lawn mowers? :)

    2. Spit coffee all over my laptop with that one.:))

  2. My mower is in the other direction. I found it, a frozen motor on the full cast aluminum body with handle, in a hay barn. It said 'Blue Grass' on the housing and was a mulching design. With a little digging, I found out they were made for Belknap hardware chain, and sold around the year I was born - late 50s. I bought a new Tecumsuh motor, stuck a blade on it, bought new grease-able wheels. Starts first pull almost every time - 23 years later. It won't ever wear out.

  3. "...a popular destination..." umm not the first words I'd use. A destination to be certain for a number of men, young and not-so-young. Popular? Well there were certain charms if they didn't kill or maim you.
    Boat Guy

  4. Ya gotta love stuff like that.
    Truly, beat the snot out of it, keeps coming back to life!
    I'm reminded of that pretty chinese woman who did engine repairs, etc. Whatever became of her...? You'd think someone would snatch her up!

  5. Got a 15 year old craftsman that I beat the snot out of. Its duty now is to serve as a mulcher. All the leaves and shrub trimmings get reduced by it. Can't count the number of times I've had to straighten the blade. It will die of a bent crankshaft some day, I may bury it. My Honda pressure washer with a Cat pump still going strong after 27 years. All machines get maintenance. Allan

  6. I bought a honda self propelled mower a few years ago. It’s a good quality machine.

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