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Small Engine Maintenance

Old 12-04-2019, 11:15 AM
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Default Small Engine Maintenance

Summer before last my neighbor moved and left their old snowblower behind - an MTD 8/26 with a Tecumseh hmsk80 8 HP engine. The thing is from 1995 or so and still runs a-ok - until yesterday when it started to surge and eventually stall after starting and running fine for awhile.

Thanks to Mr. Google, I'm pretty sure it's the carb that's either all gunked up or has gone bad. So, if I'm going to start messing with it at all, I'm going to go ahead and do the maintenance items that I'm pretty sure haven't been done in a long time.

Here's the list:
1. Clean or change out carb
2. Change oil
3. New plug
4. Replace recoil starter pull

I've found YouTube videos for my engine that cover each, so my question is more about unexpected things that might pop up. For example, if I have to change out the carb they mentioned that the fuel line may need to be replaced. It's that kind of stuff that kills me - I end up running out of time dealing with the problems that pop up.

Alternatively, what would I expect to pay someone to do that? I've gotten quotes to tune up the snowblower, but that includes sheer pins, etc and runs to $250 or so. Far more than it's worth.

I'm not planning on touching anything on the actual snowblower - it's not broken so I'll just make it worse. But if there are any easy maintenance items that will help it get through the next few winters, I should go ahead and do them.

If the engine outlasts the rest of the blower, any good uses for it?
Old 12-04-2019, 11:20 AM
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Start by removing the bowl from the carb. It might just need to be cleaned. Also remove the needle from the carb, counting the number of turns it takes. Spray some carb cleaner into it after it's out. Disconnect the fuel line from the tank and blow some air back into the tank. Might just be some crud blocking the fuel flow into the line. If those don't work, update your post, or d drop it off at my house and I'll get it fixed reasonably.
Old 12-04-2019, 11:23 AM
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I can tell you from experience that you can typically pick up a new carb for a snowblower for $50 or less, which usually makes rebuilding them not a good use of time or money. Faster and easier to just bolt the new one on.
Also, order a couple extra shear bolts and an auger belt for when they break, which will probably be never, but it is still good to have spares on hand.
Once you put a new carb on it, I will almost guarantee it will run like a champ again. These motors are simple, and any problems with them running are almost always related to fuel delivery.

Old 12-04-2019, 11:31 AM
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Add an inline fuel filter to that list and personally I would plan on replacing the fuel line. It's easy peasy -- just 1/4 ID fuel line and a few clamps that you put in place with pliers. Literally a five minute job.
Old 12-04-2019, 11:32 AM
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For future reference: Do NOT put any gasoline with ethanol into your small engine(s) . . . PERIOD.

Never.
Never.
Never.

Go back to your local repair shop. Ask them this question: How much of your small engine repairs are due to ethanol in the gasoline?

If the answer is anything less than 75% they do not know what they are talking about. Use ONLY 100% gasoline in your small engines. Towards the end of the season only fill with gasoline that has a fuel "enhancer" (to minimize the effects of any "gunk" build ups in the months where you will not be using the equipment).
Old 12-04-2019, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Qb1rdman View Post
Add an inline fuel filter to that list and personally I would plan on replacing the fuel line. It's easy peasy -- just 1/4 ID fuel line and a few clamps that you put in place with pliers. Literally a five minute job.
It's amazing but a lot of the new small engines don't come with any sort of fuel filter. Mine doesn't and that's why i believe mine is surging.

Last edited by HookMeUpII; 12-04-2019 at 11:40 AM.
Old 12-04-2019, 11:34 AM
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Yeah that’s the jet in the carb gummed up.
Old 12-04-2019, 11:37 AM
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You can buy those carbs on amazon for generally $25 or less (Tecumseh carbs are garbage to begin with and should be considered disposable). Change the fuel lines as well and I usually add an on/off petcock when doing this. Oil change, spark plug and fresh non-ethanol and should be ready to go.
Old 12-04-2019, 11:40 AM
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If carb is just gummed up it can be cleaned out. If ethanol has crystalized and turned hard in it you're wasting you time, get a new carb. I've been through this with two of my small engines, ethanol free from now on.
Old 12-04-2019, 11:46 AM
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Not sure if your engine has this feature, but all newish push mowers I've messed with have a rod that connects the governor to the engine. Lots of time that rod comes unhooked or the tension spring breaks/comes unhooked. When that happens it's the same symptoms ...... star fine, run for a couple of minutes and then die.
Old 12-04-2019, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Bottom Scratcher View Post
For future reference: Do NOT put any gasoline with ethanol into your small engine(s) . . . PERIOD.

Never.
Never.
Never.

Go back to your local repair shop. Ask them this question: How much of your small engine repairs are due to ethanol in the gasoline?

If the answer is anything less than 75% they do not know what they are talking about. Use ONLY 100% gasoline in your small engines. Towards the end of the season only fill with gasoline that has a fuel "enhancer" (to minimize the effects of any "gunk" build ups in the months where you will not be using the equipment).
This, take it as the bible on small engines. NEVER not even once use ethanol fuel.
Old 12-04-2019, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bottom Scratcher View Post
For future reference: Do NOT put any gasoline with ethanol into your small engine(s) . . . PERIOD.

Never.
Never.
Never.
I have a Honda generator which is a "small engine". It runs non-stop for a few hours/days every couple of years or so. I put the usual 10% ethanol gas into it. All gas gets drained from it for storage.

It's perfectly fine.
Old 12-04-2019, 12:14 PM
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Partstree.com

Big Al
Old 12-04-2019, 12:38 PM
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Change the spark plug and try it again before stripping stuff down. Just spent an hour going through the fuel system on a 2hp outboard that was surging and shutting off like a fuel problem. All looked fine so I changed out the ok looking plug and it runs like new now.
Old 12-04-2019, 12:47 PM
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A Tecumseh engine of that age might still use ignition points and condenser. Certainly true with my 1977 Tecumseh, but not my 1996 Tecumseh. If it does have points and condenser, worth changing those, too. Get the engine model # and look up the parts list on-line.

I ran gasohol through my 1977 Ariens snowblower Tecumseh engine for 42 years, still has original carb, still runs OK.
Old 12-04-2019, 12:58 PM
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Agree it's way easier to replace the carb than to screw around trying to fix an old one, make sure it has a new mounting gasket. I would replace all of the fuel lines and flush out the fuel tank. If it has an in-line filter replace it if not then add one. Also replace the air filter, points and condenser (if it has them) and the other parts on your list. Look at the blower itself and see if there are any zerks for greasing.
Old 12-04-2019, 01:04 PM
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What they said ^^^^^.... I have a buddy who has a shop....he says its not worth his rates and time to repair carbs anymore ...amazon prime next day a new one...bolt it on and he already knows the screw adjustments... and fire it up...99.9% its his best option...
Old 12-04-2019, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Bottom Scratcher View Post
For future reference: Do NOT put any gasoline with ethanol into your small engine(s) . . . PERIOD.

Never.
Never.
Never.

Go back to your local repair shop. Ask them this question: How much of your small engine repairs are due to ethanol in the gasoline?

If the answer is anything less than 75% they do not know what they are talking about. Use ONLY 100% gasoline in your small engines. Towards the end of the season only fill with gasoline that has a fuel "enhancer" (to minimize the effects of any "gunk" build ups in the months where you will not be using the equipment).
Problem is all the gas here has ethanol unless I drive 2 hours away to the closest marine fuel dock that has non-ethanol fuel.
Old 12-04-2019, 01:27 PM
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OK, big thanks to everyone. Looks like a THT rarity where everyone is on the same page! Going to go ahead and replace the carb (only a few bucks more than a rebuild kit), fuel and prime lines, add an in line fuel filter and then oil and plug.

I found this kit - is it a piece of junk?

Amazon Amazon

Ethanol free gas is a problem for me... I'll ask around, but there's no reasonable way for me to source it. I can buy it buy the gallon at Home Depot, but that gets crazy expensive. Are there additives that can help improve the quality of the fuel (not just stabilize it)?
Old 12-04-2019, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by MattGoose View Post
OK, big thanks to everyone. Looks like a THT rarity where everyone is on the same page! Going to go ahead and replace the carb (only a few bucks more than a rebuild kit), fuel and prime lines, add an in line fuel filter and then oil and plug.

I found this kit - is it a piece of junk?

https://www.amazon.com/632334A-Carburetor-Tecumseh-632370A-632110/dp/B01N0H324G/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1OXGGOUK4KPM7&keywords=tecumseh+hm sk80+carburetor&id=1575491062&sprefix=tecumseh+h %2Cautomotive%2C137&sr=8-4

Ethanol free gas is a problem for me... I'll ask around, but there's no reasonable way for me to source it. I can buy it buy the gallon at Home Depot, but that gets crazy expensive. Are there additives that can help improve the quality of the fuel (not just stabilize it)?
its not a big deal as long as it gets run fairly often. At the end of snow season drain the gas and the carb bowl if it has a drain, or just run it out of gas (at idle) if it doesn’t. Start with fresh gas next winter.

do the same for your lawn mower and other small stuff that gets run in the summer but not the winter and you should be relatively fine.

not as ideal as ethanol free, but I wouldn’t lose a moments sleep over it.

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