Besides normal maintenance, what else can I do to keep my engine in top condition?
This section covers four additional tasks - testing engine compression, inspecting a crankcase breather, lubricating cables and linkages and tightening bolts - that will help you keep your engine in top condition. Take these steps when you're performing your seasonal maintenance, or any time your engine and equipment have been operating under a heavy load or dirty or dusty conditions.
Testing engine compression will tell you if you are getting the maximum power out of each piston stroke, without losing efficiency due to a leaky valve or other cylinder problems.
Inspecting a crankcase breather will ensure that crankcase gases are properly vented.
Lubricating cables and linkages should be done frequently during the season when your equipment sees its heaviest use. You'll avoid minor problems associated with binding controls or a sluggish governor.
Tightening bolts is necessary to ensure safe operation and to protect the engine block and equipment body.
Testing Engine Compression
When your engine has leaks around the valves or rings, compression of the air-fuel mixture suffers. When this happens, performance and efficiency can drop dramatically. A spin of the flywheel will tell you whether the compression in your engine is sufficient.
Disconnect the spark plug lead and secure it away from the spark plug. Remove the blower housing. Then, disconnect the brake pad or band, if equipped (see "Servicing the Brake").
Spin the flywheel counter-clockwise by hand (image A)
Image A. If compression is adequate, the flywheel should rebound sharply. Weak or nonexistent rebound indicates poor compression (see "Troubleshooting" for a list of possible causes and remedies).
Inspecting A Crankcase Breather
Many engines contain a crankcase breather to vent gases that accumulate in the crankcase. The breather (if equipped) is usually located over the valve chamber.
Remove the muffler or other parts to reach the breather. Then, loosen the breather retaining screws and remove the breather.
Make sure the tiny holes in the body are open. Use a feeler gauge to check the gap between the fiber valve and the breather body (image B)
Image B. If a 0.045" feeler gauge can be inserted, replace the breather. Avoid using force of pressing on the fiber disc, and never disassemble the breather. If the breather is damaged, replace it. Replace the old gasket that fits between the breather and the engine body whenever you remove the breather.
Bolts on your engine must be tight at all times (image D)
Image D. If the bolts remain loose, parts can easily be damaged during engine operation.
Mounting bolts that attach the engine to the equipment can also loosen, leading to damage, such as a cracked engine block. Check these and all other accessible nuts and bolts during regular maintenance, and any time you sense excess vibration.
Lubricating Cables And Linkages
Control cables and linkages on the governor, flywheel brake and throttle can seize and may even throw off engine performance if they can't be moved freely. You can reduce binding to a minimum and keep cables and linkages free of dirt and debris by spraying them occasionally with a solvent/lubricant (such as Briggs & Stratton Penetrating Oil, service part number 100070) (image C)
Some mounting bolts must be grasped with a wrench from above and tightened with a second wrench from beneath the equipment. Others are self-tapping, and over-tightening can damage the threads. Consult your Authorized Dealer for the proper torque for each bolt on your engine, and use a torque wrench for final tightening.
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