Good ole days vs. Today

A customer came into the shop the other day and was asking at my shop, Carlsbad Small Engine, why it was that every year he seemed to need a carburetor cleaning or his mower just seemed to be running real ruff.  He was an older guy and he said back in the day it seemed like all you did was change the oil once a decade, and pour gas in and the lawn mower ran great.  That is right up until it broke, and when it broke it generally was dead!

I explained what was different.  This will apply to you all as well so pay close attention and if you spend a few bucks it will save you hundreds.

First of all carburetors in the day, mid 80 and before allowed the user to adjust jets for air flow and gas flow.  These jets were the size of city water mains compared to the carburetors of today.  Blockage, varnish and goo in the fuel system just flowed through, got burnt up and was spit out the exhaust.  With that however was a huge amount of unburnt fuel.  Because of environmental concerns, and CARB (California environmental laws) those gas superhighways to your engines have been replaced by coffee straws which get plugged by the littlest debris or neglect.  This is to limit and preset the richness of the fuel and as a result limit CO2 emissions.  While good for the environment eliminating the adjustable jets and limiting the flow has reduced power, and caused much frustration when the mowers don’t work or the bill come from the mower shop.  If the carburetor gets plugged generally it has to be replaced. 

In the day it was easy to kit them as they were made of metal and the pathways were big.  New carburetors however have small little pathways and most are made of plastic.  The kitting process involved stripping all the plastic and rubber off the carburetor and dipping it an acid based solvent.  This cleaned all the parts inside and out and left only the metal.  Now with the new carburetor being made of plastic,  if you dip them the end result is a blob of deformed plastic.  That’s not good for performance, and because you really cant clean the pathways for the air and gas internally, a kit on a modern card only works about 50% of the time.  With labor and the parts most likely better just to replace the carburetor than risk the loss both will end up within about $25 of each other with one garaunteed.  Take your old carburetor and place it on your coffee table as a conversation piece as that’s about all it is good for.  When someone asks why its there, tell them this story and it will break that awkward silence when the inlaws visit.

To avoid all these issues, buy some fuel cleaner with stabilizers.  The entire can costs about ten bucks and lasts many years.  The additive will keep your fuel fresh, and clean.  It also removes varnish build up, and carbon around the valves.  This all adds to performance and longengevity. 

Also having your mower tuned up annually will help as the service shop will generally flush the system and treat the gas.  So pouring a little fuel stabilizer and cleaner in your tank when you fill up the mower gas can at the filling station will ensure a good fuel system and less expense this summer.  You can buy these additives and get you mower tuned up at our shop, Carlsbad Small Engine. 


If you have any questions about mower care send us an email at, post to out face book page, Carlsbad Small Engine or come by the shop at 2310 W Church Carlsbad, NM 88220.  If your question is good we will put it in the paper for everyone to enjoy


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