Disaster Averted

I may have lost another old friend today. This one I killed. I hadn’t checked the oil in my chipper in quite some time – bad mistake. It ran perfectly, started on the first pull and then suddenly died after about an hour of chipping palmettos. I went to start it and the engine was locked up tight. That can happen if something gets jammed inside but I knew I hadn’t been running anything through it that would cause a jam. I checked the oil and found it dry. It wasn’t smoking or smelling bad so maybe it can be brought back to life. I put new oil in and will let it cool down for a few hours and then try again. After that I’ll pull the spark plug and squirt some WD-40 into the cylinder and see if that helps. At that point it will either be carted off to a repair place or to the chipper grave yard. I checked to see if I could just get another replacement engine but sadly Tecumseh is no longer in business and every site I checked said they were nearly impossible to find. I have to have a chipper. I wouldn’t have felt so bad if it had just died of old age but to have contributed, if not caused it’s untimely demise, is a real bummer. This happened right at the clean-up end of the project. As I had cleared the paths, I was cutting palmetto and underbrush and building a pile to be chipped and converted into cover or compost. What a way to end. I did get 13 years out of it with some really hard use in the first few years of lot clearing.

This day is quickly becoming an official dumb ass day. All week long as I’ve worked on the filling project, I passed by and noted a large fire ant nest. Instead of stopping what I was doing and dealing with it…………….
Today I’m doing some close clean up was down on my hands and knees crawling along clipping low palmetto fronds, and put my hand down smack on top of the nest. Luckily I was wearing gloves and a long sleeve shirt but I didn’t realize what I had done until the first bites. By then I had hundreds of those nasty little guys crawling on my arm and doing their best to get through the shirt and crawl down into the gloves. I managed to sweep them away after a few dozen bites. Needless to say that mound is now loaded with fire ant poison. I washed my hand and arm with alcohol, took a Benadryl within a few minutes and caught it before it really caused a problem.

Hold it, late breaking. George to the rescue. I told him about the chipper and that my idea was to try pulling the plug and spraying WD-40 into the cylinder. He agreed that was worth trying but it didn’t improve the situation. He used a pick handle to pry the cutting mechanism and it moved. I had tried that myself but only using my hands and not any mechanical leverage. I thought about it but was afraid I would break the shaft with too much force. It broke loose enough that I could turn it over with the pull cord so we decided to give it a try – after making sure it was full of good oil. After spraying starter fluid into the air filter, it started on the first pull. What a relief. I had convinced myself that it didn’t make any sense at all to buy a new one – $1299 for the same size and make. Even a 5HP model (mine is 10HP) is $799 and much wimpier. George’s has a 5HP engine and he really can’t feed it palmettos like I can. Mine will chew them up as fast and as thickly as I can stuff the chute whereas his takes them one or two at a time. When I’m doing a major cleanup, I can easily cut 100’s so that extra HP means I do a job much more quickly.
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I think the politicians are getting nervous that the gov’t can shut down and nobody will even notice. The same as when the sequester happened.

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