Prepping: Please! Save My Weedeater!

Sure, it’s fair to ask “Since when is a WeedEater (or, more properly a  )”Weed Eater W25SBK, 16 in. 25cc 2-Cycle Gas Straight Shaft String Trimmer” that Amazon had on sale for $89.95 this week, considered a “prepping item?

Ah, my little gosling, you aren’t into looking at the Big – Long-Term – prepping picture, are you?  Allow me a short dis-Ure-tation:

There is a reason that even in times of yore, people had lawns around their homes if they amounted to much.  Herds of sheep keeping down the lawns of the castles and such:  Brush (and leaves) are where the creepy-crawlies and bite-cher-asser’s live.  And we don’t want that. Mosquitos love warm moist succulents down low, too…why toss in some standing water and you can have a West Nile breeding ground all Ure own.

So keeping property at least somewhat trimmed up in a major deal around here.  This goes hand in hand with “limbing-up trees” with a pole saw and pruning shears so that a) you can see people sneaking up on your hideout and b) when a fire comes through, it will not climb up into the tops of trees (firefighterss call this a “crowning” fire) and bring down a burning 100-foot pine tree on top of your home.

Plus, much of what we talk about with Weedeaters will also apply to small gas leaf blowers, as well.  Leaf blowers are useful, as one of our Orkin guys explained, because in Texas, oak and other tree leaves up against a home’s foundation are key hang-outs for scorpions and such.  “Sure we will spray, but when we come back next time, if you rake out the dead leaves under the deck, you’ll get better scorpion results...”  So that’s on my to-do list, too.

Weedeater Rescue 101

A short story about my relationship with small 2-cycle power tools.  I love them – and hate them.  But, now that I understand them, we’re “warming up again.”

My first Poulan PP125 was purchased on Amazon years ago. Thing is, it showed up DOA.  Seeing as we’ve been Prime since day one, Amazon replaced it right away.  But they never sent the UPS will-call ticket or some such.  So I ended up with one that worked and one that would not start no matter what. I figured I would keep it around as a spare.

So when PP125 #2 finally stopped whacking, I tried exchanging with parts from DOA #1 and no soap.

Being cheap ($90 bucks will buy a lot of beer, after all), I decided to buy a carb online (about $20 bucks leaving $70 for beer) and some hose and fuel filters.  Ended up with $63 for beer.

You Need the Right Tools

The main one is a Torx head bit size T-25.  One you have this, some Allen wrenches, pliers, and you’ve tuned-up your longshore vocabulary, and an hour of time blocked, along with a fresh-mixed jug of 2-cycle fuel, you’re good to go.

After emptying the gas out of the fuel tank (see our forthcoming issue on home-made fuel-air bombs) you take your T-25 Torx and remove the fuel tank.

Next move is to open the air cleaner cover and remove the small sponge filter which will expose more bolts.  Going from memory I think these were 5/32nd’s Allen wrench..but might have be the Torx again.

As you disassemble things, make sure to line things up in a row so you get everything back in the right order.  If you look just above my (uncharacteristically) neat workbench, you can see the “line up.”

With the two bolts holding the carb on carefully removed, the carburetor is then twisted a bit so the throttle cable will detach.

Next step it to replace the carb but pay extra special attention to the following points:

  • Before doing anything else, press the primer bulb on your new carb and feel to make sure it is sucking in one of the fuel lines (small one) and returning fuel out the other (big) line.  May need fixing…try6 the spare bulb.  They put them in the kit for a reason.
  • The carb kit (if you got a good one) will come with two gaskets.  One of these has a small hole midway between the bolt holes.  On the other one, there’s a small hole right next to the bolt on one side.  Don’t mix them up.
  • Make sure to twist the carb so as to engage the throttle cable.  It’s not rocketry, though.
  • Now position and replace the bolts, snugging them up good, but don’t strip things.  I didn’t use Permatex or a gasket fluid on this because the factory didn’t.

Now We Ad Lib a bit…

I had a hell of a time with the fuel lines because I broke the little connector that is used to pass the lines through the body of the fuel tank.  Worse, the large line (formerly the return) was the only one I could grab (fat-fingered George, eh?) so that became my fuel feed line.  I used the small line as the return.  Technically wrong, but WTF…

Getting the new line (perhaps a bit bigger?) proved nigh-on to impossible, so I drilled the big fuel line hole a bit larger and cut an angle to the large line so I could get that far enough into the tank to grab…and then yank back out so I could get at it…

Once in my clutches, I made a straight 90 degree cut and installed the clear fuel filter like so…

This line swap was a kluge (which I knew it might be) so I looked around the shop for something that might resist gasoline, bond well with the tank and give a better seal than one of those impossible fuel line connectors.  The answer? I swear we have everything a hardware store has… Gutter seam cement for plastic gutters!  Seems to work like a charm after I slathered a bunch around each of the fuel lines like so:

It’s the silvery stuff.

Runs like a top so the next adventure in the Fix It Shop will be putting the new brush-cutter head on and a 8″ carbide tip brush head.

And when that gets done, we will do some  “before and aftering” of how a brush cutter works, although be advised:  This is NOT one of those projects you take on when you are anything but sharp and rested because holding an 8″ 2-horsepower saw blade four-feet in front of you is intrinsically NOT SAFE.

On the other hand, looks like fun, so that’s ahead one of these days.

Final Takeaways

  • Most small sparkplugs for these kinds of tools tend to be crap.  B uy a couple of highest quality you can find and keep fresh spares around.
  • A 2-cycle engine needs gas, air, and spark.  If it has those, it has to at least make enough of a “pop” to encourage you toward the ultimate heart attack from cranking.
  • So, we always keep a spray can or two of “Starting Fluid” handy (it’s mainly either) but just a bit.  Doesn’t take much – just strong fumes not gallons of it.

6 Home Handy-Bastard Points for successful completion of this project!

Write when you get rich,  (the Olde Farmer Withanac)

9 thoughts on “Prepping: Please! Save My Weedeater!”

  1. I bought the Worx 40 volt weedwacker & hedge trimmer & bypassed cranking frustration & power cords. They work great. I bought them separately, on sale, each with a battery & charger, so I would have a spare battery & 2 chargers. It is cheaper that way.

    • I do like the idea of a centralized power source or three(solar, generator, or line) and electric powered tools for the yard. Mid/large mechanical diesel engines pretty much start without much effort other than good batteries. Of course, clean oil is essential. Small gas engines, especially two stroke cycle, tend to be fussy when ignored for a year or more. The idea of good battery powered tools saves mass quantities of time and energy. My objection is that they’re not available in larger sizes, and there’s no electric weedwacker(corded or not) that takes a brush cutting disk. There’s no reason not to have tools powered by 220V for the yard, since there’s still only 110V nominal to ground. Where I live, brush is a fact of life, though a sharp blade or bucket on a tractor will tear it out. Still, a weedwhacker(or goat) is essential for trimming next to a house or fence.

      This article has great info on small engines. I wonder if a manufacturer ditching the carb and using a cheap fuel injector might increase the reliability in intermittent service. I’m not aware of any current production of fuel injected 2 stroke cycle engines.

  2. Save your weed eater..
    I love my craftsman but in a real shtf scenario..
    Give me a goat.. The Vikings were very much goat lovers.

    Not only for meat and milk. but also for warmth to clean up around the shelter and for mead.

    I haven’t made this I keep thinking about it when I make cheese next time.

  3. Fun with small engines: A primer for HHBs

    Carburetors for these small engines have a check valve, but no float chamber. Instead, they have a “fuel on-demand” diaphragm. If the inlet passage from the tank, and the venturi passage from the diaphragm chamber are not plugged, and the diaphragm’s membrane is sound, there should be no way for the carb to not work.

    If the carburetor HAS worked, stop and ask yourself: What has changed since I last used this tool?

    If the answer is: “Only time,” replace the filter, replace the fuel, and hope the jet and venturi plumbing haven’t gotten plugged with varnish.

    If the answer is “No,” assume an “assembly error” on the part of the factory.

    Carburetors should NEVER be assembled with any kind of gasket compound. They are precision instruments, and should be machined to a tolerance such that dry (or, at worst, oiled) gaskets alone are sufficient to always seal tight. However, “precision cast, precision machined” is something which doesn’t always happen, so instead of 86ing a significant number of parts, the Chinese (especially, although I’ve seen both Korean and American carbs with this issue) use silly-cone to “help” their gaskets, and make out-of-spec parts pass inspection. When you have a body passage that’s between .008 and .02 of an inch in size, it doesn’t take much gasket sealant to plug it up.

    X-Acto makes/markets a set of miniature wire-size drills (sizes 61-80.) My carbretter repair kit (spelling reflects the carbs I was working on when I assembled the kit. Y’all don’t even want to know the many, and varied means of repairing an SU or Solex carbretter) includes a set of these, high-powered (and somewhat dangerous) commercial carb cleaner (which I avoid using, if at all possible), Brakleen, a very firm nylon “wire” brush, and a tooth brush, some 320-grit wet/dry paper, and a 12″x12″ flat granite slab. Since I stopped repairing cars for fun & profit, I’ve only used this kit about once every 3 years. What’s surprising is since I stopped repairing cars, I’ve used this kit about once every 3 years.

    Brakleen and scrubbing will usually remove the varnish from that crap we’re told is “gasoline.” Obviously, the drills will clean clogged passages and jets (use carefully, so as to not enlarge a passage.) I’ve used the carborundum paper and granite a number of times to surface/lap mating surfaces which were too rough-cut or buggered-up for gaskets to seal them properly. If the tool or vehicle is “vintage,” the carburetor should always be rebuilt, because diaphragms (and floats, on float-chamber carburetors used on cars and some mowers & bikes) were not originally alcohol-proof.

    Gasoline, as vapor or fumes, is extremely explosive, but it has a very narrow, and specific atmospheric density-range at which it is so. This range is generally considered to be from 14.4:1 to 15.2:1, oxygen to gasoline (YMMV — Blow yourself up, it’s on you. People in uncontrolled environments shouldn’t play with matches…) The jet in a carburetor venturi is designed to distribute gas vapor into the air in the carb’s maw, at the ideal ratio, which is 1:14.7. Even a speck of sludge in the jet will significantly change this ratio, leaning out the carburetor. If the mixture leans out past 1:15.2, the engine won’t run. An engine which is sucking gas, but won’t run without adding ether, has a clogged jet or insufficient spark.

    An electronic ignition can crap itself at any time, and the more-sophisticated, the more-likely it’ll happen. However, most small engines use a magneto to make spark. With a mag-ignition, the magnets can get rusty, which screws with the impulse and timing, and the spark plug’s ground can be an issue, as electricity doesn’t like to pass through oxidation. Threads oxidize, as does the plug contact. Penetrox or silicone grease remedies most of this. Barring a burnt, oil-fouled, or broken spark-plug, a small engine should have a decent spark. If it doesn’t, suspect the issue is a cumulative failure caused by the engine ground strap and oxidation in the aforementioned places…

      • About 20-25% of small engine carburetors are made by Tillotson, and about 80% of the remainder are Tillotson knockoffs.

        I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but a trip to the Tillotson website ( IIRC) and a few minutes of browsing will bring a bored and overly-inquisitive person to the area where they hide the “high performance rebuilding kits…”

    • I have replaced four carbs, Quad 2000 Yamaha Big Bear 400 $616.00 from Yamaha,

      $60.00 from eBay, Started on first ignition start. Stihl Weed Trimmer, $12.00, two pulls,

      Stihl BG 55 Leaf Blower, $12.00, one pull and Generac 4000 generator $12.00, three

      pulls. Came with two gaskets, fuel filter, spark plug, primer bulb and air filter! All within

      the last six months, Ethanol, ugh!

  4. On our 9.2 acres, I don’t use a weed eater and haven’t for years. I graduated to a big wheel trimmer and never looked back. It makes short work of the fence lines and anything else I dare wade into. I can use the largest diameter line I can buy, even used some with a metal core. (with protective gear) When I wear one out, it’s paid for it’s self and I go get another. With heavy brush it’s the only way to go for a quick fight. Search and destroy. Done

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