The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-30-2000, 03:15 PM
Dauber Dauber is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
That's not my real question...

Take a car...a car weighs several tons...yet all it takes to start is a turn of the key. But a gas-powered lawn mower, light enough for the average human to lift, requires a yank -- or SEVERAL yanks -- on a cord to get the durned thing started. Why don't they make lawn mowers [the standard push kind; not the riding kind!] that can start just by turning a key?
__________________
********************
"I don't know...I suggest you buy as many surf albums as you can." -- Dauber
dauber@wallnet.com
*********************
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 11-30-2000, 03:27 PM
GaryM GaryM is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: St. Louis, MO 50mi. West
Posts: 3,334
They do, or did make them. In the 70's I had a Toro self propelled that was electric start. It had a small starter motor and a rechargable battery pack. Crack the throttle and turn the key. Off ya go!

Haven't seen one lately tho.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-30-2000, 04:54 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: On the dance floor.
Posts: 14,895
Quote:
Originally posted by Dauber
That's not my real question...

Take a car...a car weighs several tons...yet all it takes to start is a turn of the key. But a gas-powered lawn mower, light enough for the average human to lift, requires a yank -- or SEVERAL yanks -- on a cord to get the durned thing started. Why don't they make lawn mowers [the standard push kind; not the riding kind!] that can start just by turning a key?
First, the weight of the car is completely irrelevant.

Second - your car has much better engine and fuel management controls than a lawnmower. Your lawnmower's fuel managment consists really of a single venturi (with at most one jet), a throttle, and a flap that can act as a choke. As opposed to even a simple carburettor, which is a pretty precise device with multiple fuel circuits, better choke, better idle, varying and/or multiple venturis ("barrels"), and so forth.

Third - your car has a much higher voltage ignition system than your lawnmower.

Fourth - If your lawnmower is a two-stroke, oil can wet the cylinder and plug somewhat, and make that first start difficult.

Fifth, do you know how many times your car turns over when you start it? Quite a bit, depending. If your starter turns the engine at 200 rpm, and is a 4-cylinder, it has roughly six opportunities for at lest one cylinder to start firing during each second you start it ( (200 per minute/60 seconds/minute)*4 cylinders / 2 revs per firing cycle). As opposed to your single-cylinder lawnmower engine.

Sixth - it's very easy to flood or starve the lawnmower engine by either priming it too little, or too much before starting.

Basically, you are comparing pretty different systems. If lawnmowers cost a bit more, and had more features, they would be easier to start. But one must strike a balance between cost and convenience.
__________________
SDMB records held:
* Most title changes
* Longest Ignore list
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-30-2000, 08:17 PM
honkytonkwillie honkytonkwillie is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Also, the first start-up of the season is extra tough due to the fact that the lighter, more volatile gasoline components have evaporated.

The fuel remaining in the tank then has a somewhat higher ignition temperature and doesn't vaporize as readily.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-30-2000, 08:27 PM
Yeah Yeah is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Anthracite is, of course, correct.

A couple of other observations: adding a starter motor with its attendant alternator, battery, switch, etc. would add substantially not only to the COST and to the WEIGHT, but would add complexity leading to a need for more maintenance and, very possibly, more breakdowns resulting in: HARD STARTING.

A few years ago I replaced an El Cheapo mower with a 4-stroke Honda mower. Whenever it does not start easily it is because the tank is empty or I forgot to connect the spark plug. I recently took it out of storage (four years of storage), poured some gas in the tank and it started with one or two pulls. I think you will find that if you spend a lot of money on a quality mower it will be easy to start.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-30-2000, 08:50 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: On the dance floor.
Posts: 14,895
Good point, honkeytonkwillie!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-30-2000, 11:32 PM
RufusLeaking RufusLeaking is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
I never have a problem starting my lawn mower -- it's electric! Bought my Black and Decker electric mower fifteen years ago and have been very happy with it. No, the extension cord is not a problem.

I do have a gas engine rotor-tiller that sometimes gives me problems. I've found that starting fluid (ether in a spray can) usually gets it going.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-01-2000, 11:26 AM
Dauber Dauber is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
The key to starting a lawn mower...

I agree on the electric lawn mower...never a problem starting that thing when I mow my mother-in-law's lawn for her...however, I live in an apartment, so I don't have to worry about lawn mowing for myself.

But when we get a house, no gas mower for me...mainly because I hate the noise and the fumes...give me the good old-fashioned push-with-no-power mower. I love my father's logic, though -- he says that those are a pain because you have to sharpen the blade. My comment: you have to sharpen ANY lawn mower blades!!!!

Thanks for all your replies, btw. Very, very good answers.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-01-2000, 02:24 PM
Yeah Yeah is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
High quality gas lawnmowers are surprisingly quiet and don't smell worse that a sweaty person. The rotary models are vastly easier to sharpen than reel models (whether manual or power).

If you really plan to restrict your choice of lawnmower to human powered models, be sure to keep that fact in mind as you shop for a house. Some types of grass (e.g., emerald zoysia) are almost impossible to cut without a power mower. Also, unless you are unusually brawny and have a lot of time on your hands, you will want to keep the lawn to a minimum size or, better, have no lawn at all.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-02-2000, 12:41 PM
Jack Dean Tyler Jack Dean Tyler is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 269
>give me the good old-fashioned push-with-no-power mower. <

I totally agree, use the old fashion mower. Modern steel is much more efficient than the steel used in push mowers of yesteryear.
I use to have a low quality power mower. I found that what was important to do was to use my air compressor to blow out the jet on the carburetor quite often. It was pretty easy to remove the jet and when I would look through it, there would always be a lot of muck---even after a month. I put the jet into a pan of gasoline and let it sit there for a while. Then I would blow it out with my air compressor. No problem at all starting after this. Also, make sure that the spark plug is clean.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-02-2000, 05:55 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,055
Most of the USA's mowers have a Briggs & Stratton engine doing the work. They have a long and enviable record, but, frankly, they haven't changed much since before I was born (1949.) A while back, I decided I had spent too much time yanking on B&S engines. My mower is a John Deere with a Kawasaki (or Kowalski, for a joke) engine. One pull. On a bad day, two.
__________________
"You know what they say about sleeping dogs; you can't trust 'em." --Oliver Faltz
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-02-2000, 07:59 PM
justwannano justwannano is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
My parents had(still do) a wards mower with a spring starter. Wind the crank til it gets tight and push the handle down and presto.
It was (still is) a heavy old thing so it isn't used much. It is probably 30 years old.
I have no idea why they don't make them any more.
A well tuned engine should start after a couple of pulls.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-03-2000, 04:33 AM
sewalk sewalk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Quote:
Originally posted by Dauber
That's not my real question...

Take a car...a car weighs several tons...
What the hell kind of car do you drive? Even my dad's Landcruiser weighs a mere 2.9 tons. My Celica is a scant 1.2 tons.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-03-2000, 09:03 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Lawn mowers are hard to start due to the telekenetic influence of the lawn, which does not want to have it's top lopped off.

Two stoke motor air pollution, fertilizer run-off, pesticides, herbicides, and wasted water are all the result of lawn care, so no wonder the lawns fight back.

Be a responsible citizen and ignore your yard work.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:39 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.