Monday, August 1, 2011

Saga of the Broken Lawnmower

We had a productive weekend here at Chez Blossom. You might recall that I mentioned I was going to take apart the lawnmower last week. Here's the quick recap of the Saga of the Broken Lawnmower:

  • I mow the yard. I hose the lawnmower off (just like Reid does) after use and put it away.
  • I go to the mow the yard again the next week. 
  • Large clouds of white smoke billow from the exhaust. 
  • I google. White smoke = oil.
  • I consult the family small engine repairman (i.e. Dad) and he suggests changing the oil, fuel and spark plug. These things have never been done in the two years we've owned the mower.
  • I google some more and complete the above tasks with minimal difficulty.
  • I start the mower. A little white smoke comes out at first but eventually dissipates and I mow the back yard. 
At this point in the story, our yard has gone quite some time without a trim and our grass is nearing the foot-high mark. Carrying on...
  • It's getting late so I put the mower away (no rinse this time) and plan to mow the front yard in the morning. Big mistake.
  • Mower won't start. 
  • I google. I think I put in too much oil. 
  • I drain some oil and manage to get it to start but it continues to sputter oil and white smoke out of the exhaust. 
  • Back to step 5. 
  • The diagnosis doesn't sound good so I give up on my dreams of operating a lawn mower repair business on the side. 
  • I beg some more mechanically inclined friends of ours to take a look at it. I offer payment in beer. 
  • They decline. But offer us a fully functioning push mower to replace ours with until we can get it repaired.
  • We accept and Reid mows the yard since I am apparently not capable of doing it without breaking the mower.
The end. For now...

Reid and I accept that there are traditional roles in our household. Reid is the Director of Outdoor Maintenance (lawn mowing, landscaping, taking out the trash, anything involving getting sweaty in the hot Alabama summer, etc.) and the Chief Financial Officer (he writes all the checks). I am the Hospitality Coordinator (sorry about the lack of fresh flowers lately, Mom!), Executive Chef, and Chief Operating Officer. Basically, if it's inside the house and doesn't require heavy lifting I usually handle it. If it's outside the house then Reid handles it. Occasionally these lines get blurry but we like to stick with the gender stereotypes that have been established by previous generations. It works for us. 

So I bet you're wondering why on earth I was tampering with the lawn mower if that clearly falls under Reid's jurisdiction? Let me explain. Since I work in a school I've been on summer vacation for the last few weeks. I was trying to take some of the burden off of Reid (and get in a little workout to help get rid of some of this post-Sam jiggling) and had volunteered to start mowing the lawn. I did it once without any problems but this is where the jury is split on the question of who really broke the lawn mower.

We will return to the bullet points to complete the Saga of the Broken Lawnmower.
  • Dad says he needs a motorcycle ride and makes plans to come up for the weekend.
  • We take apart lawnmower again. All of my previous work is more than satisfactory.
  • We dig deeper.
  • We remove the air filter. Ah-ha!
  • We're pretty sure the air filter is the problem but check everything else anyway.
  • I get in the zone (AutoZone commercial, anyone?) and get a new air filter.
  • We put it all back together and Dad mows the back yard. Runs like a champ. It still smokes but he says it will have to burn off the oil that gathered in the bottom of the exhaust before it stops smoking. 
The air filter was completely clogged and soaking wet. Dad thinks the engine was having to work so hard to get air through the filter that it was sucking oil up into places it shouldn't have been going. So I'm asking you, a jury of my peers, what do you think? Did I break the mower or was it two years of neglect by it's previous user that caused it to break while I happened to be using it? 

It really doesn't matter since I'll never have to mow the yard again. My evil plan worked! (Insert sinister laugh here.) Just kidding. I'm headed out to mow the front yard right now. If anyone needs some basic lawn mower maintenance done my hourly rates are very reasonable. You can contact Reid, Director of Outdoor Maintenance and Accounts Payable, for more info. 

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