Holy mow-ly

reel mower cutout 600p

There’s so little grass “yard” to tend, that I usually just use an old-timey reel mower. You know, the hand-pushed, hand-powered kind you imagine British servants named Geoffrey and Jennings used before folks invented gasoline.

But long grass and reel mowers don’t play nice. So unless you mow often, the reel mower leads to a horribly frustrating chain of events that involves:

  1. Backing the mower up for a running start
  2. Surging forward with it to get the reels spinning, so that you can…
  3. Mow about 3 inches of lawn.

This tends to make a sort of droning set of sounds, too. Wheels sliding on grass, ball bearings turning, blades snapping in cumbersome circles. It’s led Jenn to call the mower the Click-Clack.

So a few times a year I break down and go get the mower that’s nestled in a shed at a rental property we own. And I fire up that vixen, listen to her two-stroke siren song, and make about six passes to knock out the lawn in record time.

I started it up last night, since the daily rain has prevented everyone from doing any lawn maintenance for about two weeks — which, in this heat, is enough time to make the blades of the St. Augustine grow about 5 inches.

Only there was a problem. The motor surged unevenly, and it stalled completely in the taller sections of grass.

I pulled out the air filter, which didn’t look too bad, really, but had certainly seen better days. Looked at the blade, which was duller than Kristen Stewart on a late night show. Pulled the spark plug cap off and saw an unappetizing crust of corrosion.

Me: “Jenn, when’s the last time we changed the plug on the mower?” [It’s technically her mower.]

Jenn: “Umm.”

That’s right, it was Nevuary 1st. And the mower is older than our marriage. So it was time for a tuneup.

Here’s a quick self-help guide to help diagnose the problems:

sparkplugs lawnmower filters lawnmower blade

Those three things — plug, filter, blade — are the old standbys. Anyone can do them. And the fact that could, well, that just proves the point. I may be handy with a hammer and a nail, but I can’t begin to tell you how an engine works. I told myself when I bought my first scooter that I would begin to unravel the mysteries of combustion engines. The only new skill I’ve really learned is how to find a good two-stroke mechanic.

Anyway, with a quick trip to Sears — it’s a Craftsman mower — and $35 for a blade, filter and plug, she’s purring like a champ and back to making me tingle in a most peculiar way.

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