Friday, May 30, 2008

Tonight Is The Night I Nearly Blew Up the Mower

I could have named this post several different things like: How to Destroy Your Mower in 5 Minutes, or Roasting Marshmallows Over an Open Mower, or even How To Turn Your Lawn Mower into a Bomb in Three Easy Steps. Fortunately each of those creative titles are inaccurate. The first title is wrong since I think my mower is still usable, that's good news! The second title wouldn't work since I didn't roast marshmallows over my flaming mower, nope that would have been really dumb. The last one might get me in trouble with homeland security so I'll stay away from that one too. (If you are a member of homeland security welcome to my blog! There's nothing illegal here, really there isn't!) The truth of the matter is I did a couple stupid things with my mower that I knew better but just didn't think about at the time.

It started after I finished mowing our one acre yard with the riding mower. I was getting the push mower out to trim around the house and the garden beds. The mower, which is about 8 years old, (easy to remember since my wife and I will have been married 8 years on Tuesday and we got it when we moved into our first place) got stuck on something. I looked down and saw a piece of nylon twine wrapped around the blade. I thought to myself "safety first" and removed the spark plug. (OK maybe I really didn't say "safety first" it was probably more like "I really like having my hand.") Whenever working on a mower you should always remove the spark plug so that the engine doesn't accidentally start, that would be bad. Then I turned the mower on its side to get the twine out. No problem there, it only took 15-20 seconds to pull it out. "Great," I thought " now I can get back to mowing." I flipped the mower back on its wheels and gave the pull string a tug and then... there was smoke... then fire...

I ran around to get the hose (in retrospect not a great idea since oil and water definitely don't mix). Wouldn't you know it the hose had kink in it. I got that one taken care of then another one appeared, then another. I was afraid the flames would reach the fuel tank which was full of some very, very expensive gas (is there any other kind anymore?) and ignite. The ensuing explosion would probably catch the house or cars on fire (maybe not but that's what was going through head at the time). When I finally got the water to come out the hose the fire had almost died out and there was just a small flicker of a flame. I sprayed it down with my thumb over the end of the hose to direct the water since I didn't have time to grab a nozzle and sprayed the engine down with the hose. The fire died down and a feeling of relief washed over me.

Wow did I mess up! Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. It caught on fire because of a couple factors. First gasoline came out of the vent hole in the gas cap when I turned it on its side. Then I forgot to put the spark plug back on before I started the engine. The spark plug arced to the mower deck igniting either the gas fumes or the liquid gas still on the mower. Fortunately the engine itself was not on fire, just the top of the mower. I'll check tomorrow in the daylight for damage to hoses and other parts to make sure I haven't killed the mower. I should have waited for the gas that escaped the tank to evaporate and put the spark plug back on before I started the mower. I knew all that before but just wasn't thinking. Also don't use water to put out an oil based fire, it usually just makes things worse. Use sand or dirt. I even had a pack of topsoil sitting right next to me, I just didn't think about it. I guess sometimes it's better to be lucky than good!

I had planned a different post for tonight but since this mower incident popped up I thought I would share that story with you instead. Tomorrow I'll post my Bird Bath Garden Layout and Sunday some pictures of the Bird Bath Garden. Just remember to always check the spark plugs!

13 comments :

  1. I'm sorry about your mower, but it sure sounds like you have an exciting tale to tell for years to come... The day that you killed your lawn mover. I'm sure no one will have the same story :-)

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  2. ROFLOL. Sorry about your mower--but boy are you funny. Real facts are so funny at times. Hope your mower is ok. And you of course.

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  3. My first thought was, hilarious. Sorry! That's what you get for being funny. I'm glad you still have your hand--
    kate

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  4. haha! Nice. Though Mythbusters would tell you that liquid gasoline does not burn/ignite. it is the vapours that are flammable. ;)

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  5. I can't help it, I thought it was a funny story too!

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  6. Laughing to hard to express my deepest sympathies:)

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  7. Sorry, Dave, but that sure is funny. Very well written post that had me laughing till the tears came. However, I am sure glad it turned out okay!!! I might also add that I was only laughing so hard as I knew you were okay or would not be writting so funny about it.

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  8. A great reminder to us all -- we all do things without thinking...when we know better. My neighbor once reached down to flip out the rubber protective "skirt" at the bottom of her mower deck and -- zing -- off goes the end of her index finger. She absolutely knew better and just didn't think. And it happens so quickly. I hope your mower is okay!

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  9. If you can't laugh at yourself what can you laugh at? The good news is there is actually no visible damage to the mower. It started and seemed more powerful than before. I suspect that the twine was already there but had just come loose when I noticed it. Once I removed it the blade seemed to spin more free. It does make me think more about the reel mowers! And then I wouldn't have to worry about gas prices!

    Zeppy,

    That's a great show but I didn't see that episode. It makes sense and that would explain why there is no real damage to the mower. It was the fumes burning and not the actually the mower.

    Nancy,

    That would be awful! I have to say that loosing an appendage to power equipment is something that I am extra careful about. Always remember the spark plug! But then you might just blow up your mower!

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  10. I'm so glad I didn't miss this post. I'm so sorry but even if you were laid up in some hospital somewhere and you told this story again just like this---I'd have to laugh right there at your bed side. I'd make you hurt laughing at me laughing. I have one of those laughs that makes everyone around me laugh. I'm doing that right now----I can't stop. I'm all by my myself and laughing like mad.

    Don't forget to change my new blog addy and don't blow me up in the process--someone was at my home and tried to rob me so I had to get a new blog. I think the selling of my old house gave away my new location--sounds odd I know--but not as odd as blowing up a lawn mower. They said they were at your house but when they saw you with that lawn mower and they got scared and ran away.

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  11. woo hoo lawn mowers can be dangerous devices - in first aid in college everytime we role played the instructer always used either a lawn mower or chain saw story - just two of my hubby's favorite items. good luck with your mower!
    ~plantgirl of
    Plantgirl's Square Foot Garden

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  12. Soooo funny! One to tell the grandchildren perhaps?

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  13. I'm glad everyone liked the story! The mower is still working but is making some funny noises and seem to be overheating. I may have to take it to a shop to get looked at. At least it's not in a million pieces.

    Anna,

    I'll get your new address fixed up ASAP! Sorry to hear about the break in. Did they catch the guys? It is kind of scary that they could find your house through your blog. Don't worry if they do come I'll blow them up with the mower...a new method of home security!

    Plantgirl,

    Seem two very appropriate methods of teaching first aid! The chainsaw and mower are common items that home owners probably have the most accidents with. I don't have a chain saw so no worries there!

    VP,

    I won't forget this one anytime soon that's for sure!

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