Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Stop Me Before I Own an Internal Combustion Engine Again!

You know the story about the Boston Strangler, who wrote a note to the police: "Stop me before I kill again"? Well, I feel like that: "Stop me before I touch an internal combustion engine again."

As of Saturday: this summer, I have replaced EVERYTHING I own that uses a gasoline engine.

OK, so we're surviving all the vehicular drama, right? We've replaced the dear, departed SUV. A very generous friend has loaned me his Chrysler Sebring convertible. (I DIG convertibles, you know? The wind rushing through what's left of my hair, etc. I have a sunburn on my forehead and scalp from driving the thing all weekend.) And we should be purchasing a second vehicle of our own this week, which means I'll be kissing the convertible goodbye.

So guess what happened Friday? My lawn mower blew up.

I've owned the same Snapper mower since 1994. It was a REALLY nice mower when I got it, list price of over $500. The last couple of years, we've had it in the shop a few times: the drive system breaking, gunk in the fuel system, etc. We've probably spent $250 on repairs over the last couple of years, which is about what a similar mower would cost from Sears or Home Depot.

So I've been planning on replacing it before next spring. I just hoped I could get another summer out of it, you know?

Friday, it started ok. It ran ok for a minute or two, and then a knocking sound (metal banging on metal) started coming out of the engine. Trust me, that's not a good thing.

I knew the minute that the knocking started that something bad had happened inside the mower. And I knew I wasn't going to put it in the shop again. So I just let it run, kept right on mowing.

To the eternal credit of Briggs & Stratton (who make the engines for Snapper), the mower ran for almost an hour with the knocking before it finally died. And when it DID die, it died a spectacular grand opera death: the side of the crankcase broke open, spraying oil EVERYWHERE.

From what I can see without tearing the whole thing apart, the piston rod has broken through the side of the crankcase. I don't know what happens to cause that: maybe the bearing broke at the bottom of the rod, causing the piston on the downstroke to crash through the side of the crankcase?


Anyway. Now, everything I own that uses a gasoline engine has been replaced in the course of a single month.


Blogger gratefulbear said...

I've been having mechanical drama too: had to leave my truck in the shop this morning, and a virus won't allow me to boot up my PC at home. Wrote a check to the mechanic this morning; will be writing another check to the computer guy this evening.

I'm thinking of buying a hybrid car next year (probably a Toyota Prius). It still has a gas engine, but it doesn't use it ALL the time.

Welcome back to the blogosphere!

12:44 PM  

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