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Ride on mower

A friend (hi Aly!) found me an old ride-on mower, the owner wanted €60. I agreed without seeing the mower because sixty is a sweet spot, it's about what I make per day (in my pocket) and even if it only works for this year, the time it'll save compared to the walk-behind mower I currently use will be more than a day.

Next thing I know, the guy wants twenty for it. Uh... okay...

Yesterday it was dropped off in the hanger around back, the guy just wanted rid of it. Uh...! I can only guess that Aly didn't mention that I agreed to the sixty. If so, well played!
I feel like I ought to offer him a tenner "pour boire" or something. How does that go?

Here it is:

It's in pretty poor shape, a rear tyre was flat but seems to be holding air after I pumped it up with a bicycle pump (hint, don't do this, it takes forever!). The entire front fascia is missing, and then there's this:

Yup, all of the safety switches have been disabled! Still, useful for me as I don't know what needs to be done to get the mower started (other than the obvious - have it in neutral and with the blades disengaged). Charged up the battery and.......


Okay, not to panic. There are literally only three things to consider:

  1. Catastrophic engine failure
  2. No spark
  3. No fuel

We can rule out engine failure as it does turn and doesn't make any horrific noises doing so.

Pulling off the spark plug cap, putting a screwdriver into it, and leaving it resting close to a metal fin on the cylinder head showed a fairly strong spark as the engine was cranked. The spark system itself is a simple magneto.

That leaves fuel. One of the harder things. I unclipped the bottom part of the carburettor and checked it. The seal looked good, the fuel looked okay, nothing seemed gummed up despite it resting all winter. Oh, and yes, I had noticed and turned on the fuel tap. ☺

So I added a few cupfuls of new 98 octane petrol (higher octane, but more importantly lower ethanol content) into the little bit of petrol in the tank. I should have drained it out but I don't have the tools for that, so hoping the mix would be good enough to burn.

Crank, crank, crank, crank. Needed to charge the battery again!

This left me with my "last ditch" thing to try before starting to strip things down. Take off the air filter, toss some petrol into the hole (about 2 soup spoons worth), put the air filter back on, and crank.

The engine roared into life with plenty of smoke. It's a sideways mount, so possibly some oil ingress into the cylinder over time? I don't know, what I know is that it started. The kick-in-the-ass method hasn't failed me yet on small engines such as this. ☺

Going back a couple of hours later (after topping up the battery), it started and died. Put the lever back into choke and cranky-cranky-cranky and it started once more. It seems that after starting, the engine wants to spend a while running like crazy before it will allow you to move the speed lever off of "psycho" to something a little less dramatic.

Speaking of dramatic, there are four forward gears and one reverse. With the engine running at the mid point between snail and rabbit, fourth gear is brutal. I half expected the mower to shoot off forward leaving me floating in the air like a cartoon Rick. I don't want to think about what that would be like at psycho-speed.
[update - the instruction manual for a similar model (see below) implies that the engine is supposed to be run at psycho speed...yikes!]

I did a short bit of mowing, mostly to verify that part is working. It's really not suitable weather or conditions for mowing, so I did it very slowly and on the highest cut.

Looks like this will make a huge difference around here, so I'm dead chuffed.

Just a shame this didn't happen a year ago. I rather suspect that mom would have literally pushed me off and taken over the use of it. It just seems like something she'd have enjoyed - a go-kart with useful side effects. ☺

As for the model? It's a Rally 12HP 38". Branded Rally, produced for Electrolux, by AYP (in America). It looks as if the type is an RE12TSE. The closest I've managed to find on-line is RE12C36B. I'm guessing that's not quite the same (36 as width of cut? mine's 38), but the technical plan is broadly similar, and the gearbox is pretty damn complicated.


Vide grenier

Since we aren't all dying of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) just yet, I decided to pass a rainy miserable Sunday morning by going into Châteaubriant for a vide grenier. It was indoors.
It took about 45 minutes to get there, 20 minutes to walk around, and 45 minutes to come back home.

But it wasn't a loss. I found a lovely teapot for €2.

I also picked up a Tassimo "Vivy 2" coffee maker for €15. I had planned on using it as a sacrificial lamb - stripping it down to see how it worked, how it sensed, and to run a series of tests to see if I could decode the barcode.
But, small problem. It's new! Literally, looking inside it's in its original packing and hasn't ever been used. So, not a bad find.



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Gavin Wraith, 1st March 2020, 23:39
Does your mower have a cigar lighter? It looks very like one that my youngest daughter got to drive, over thirty years ago, when she was five years old and went to stay with friends in Herefordshire. A cigar lighter puts the machine in a different class, I reckon - less agricultural, more "let us wow the neighbours". I should add that my daughter did not smoke at that age or at any subsequent age, but no matter.
Rick, 2nd March 2020, 19:03
When I didn't have a car, I'd be getting home about now. 
Since I have a car, I got home a little under two hours ago. 
And since it was black clouds and tipping it everywhere except here, I had sun - whee! - I decided to fiddle with the mower some more. 
The carburettor is a "series 7" which is fully automatic. Well, that's what the engine tech manual says. 
Starting it, I think I *might* have sussed it. 
Choke on, crank the engine until it fires. It will quickly take itself to psycho speed and invariably splutter and die. 
Choke on, crank it again, and as soon as it starts, push the throttle to about a third (anything more and it'll splutter and stop). Leave it there, on what is essentially a fast idle, until the engine warms up enough to sustain a load (in other words, fat-ass Rick sitting on it while in forward motion!). 
Gavin, I think the engine was made in either 1990 or 2000 (the first digit, a '0', is a year code) but likely 1990 as I think this model dates from the latter half of the '90s. That would put it contemporary with my car! So, no, there's no lighter. 
Having said that - WTF? A lighter to smoke while mowing (which will leave lots of easily combustible material around). Jeez, what could possibly go wrong! 
Rick, 2nd March 2020, 19:05
Oh, and all the smoke? Did that again today. Checking oil on a level surface, it looks like the oil level is more than full, which would likely explain it. I guess better than not enough. ;-) 
David Pilling, 3rd March 2020, 18:58
I envy you that mower.
Rick, 3rd March 2020, 20:32
David, I've spent eighteen YEARS trying to keep this place under control with a walk-behind mower. The old mower only cut about a foot width as I'd need to come back the other way going half over what I'd already done. Think of it as interleaved mowing! 
You can see the mower (and some of the land) in this video from 2010: (ye gods, my hair has colour! 😮) 
The potager opposite the house is 600m², the rest of the land is maybe ten times that if not more). Doing just the basics took me a huge chunk of my summer holiday. I think the only time I have ever tamed the entire land area was before 2008 when I didn't work so could spend many hours of many days mowing.😪 
So, yeah, been waiting two decades for something like this! 
Now all I need is for the rain to give it a rest. 🌧️
John WILLIAMS, 6th March 2020, 10:16
Have a look at 
It's an archived Pic_Index album - load the index file! 
Ah, nostalgia!
John WILLIAMS, 6th March 2020, 19:09
I'm after a nice teapot like that but without a lid - to hang-up by the handle for robins to nest in: the spout acts as a drain. So lose the lid and rotate the imagee 90 degrees to spout-down - well, not you yourself, you make tea in it!
David Pilling, 7th March 2020, 01:57
I envy you all that grass - if I had the grass I would want the mower. John - seems like Rick had a ride on mower long ago - personalised too.
Rick, 7th March 2020, 04:29
That's John's mower, at his place. 
And, yeah, a Murray on a Murray. 😂
John WILLIAMS, 7th March 2020, 10:01
I no longer have that grass, nor that mower, and the pictures were taken with my Mavica digital camera which had a floppy disc! I don't think I have any of them any more, either!

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