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Before Starting Engine…

March 19, 2017 in Articles

Briggs and Stratton engine with 1976 engine maintenance card

Briggs and Stratton engine with 1976 engine maintenance card

Engine maintenance is of the utmost importance, for without a running engine we are going nowhere apart from the workshop to do some problem solving. 

Illustrated right and shown as a full scan at the bottom of the page is a 1976 dated Briggs and Stratton engine instruction guide supplied with a new B&S engine and usually attached to the engine or pull cord.

These instructions were issued with engines as an important piece of information for the operator and as such contain the message ‘Keep and follow this guide to good engine performance‘ but we wonder how many instruction guides were kept or did they end up oil-stained on the workshop bench to be discarded at a later date?

Before Starting Engine…

The B&S guide details the recommended oil levels and also the oil to be used in summer (over 40F or 4C) and winter (under 40F or 4C) and colder (under 0F use SAE 10W oil diluted 10% with kerosene). These engines would have been supplied worldwide and powered many implements in varying temperatures from mowers in summer to snowblowers in the depths of winter. 

Looking at the offerings of cheap and cheerful mowers at a DIY store over the weekend we noticed they still have labels with instructions, although limited sometimes to just informing the operator that the engine contains no oil and needs purchasing separately. I know of someone who omitted to fill a new mower engine with oil and it had a very short life indeed. 

As we know, dragging the mower out at Easter, chucking in some of last years winter-stored fuel and hoping it starts is not the best idea, sensibly the B&S guide recommends for ‘Off Season Care’ to ‘Empty the fuel tank before storage and run engine until it stops’. For a new season then ‘Fill fuel tank completely (outdoors) with clean, fresh, regular grade automotive gasoline’. 

According to the B&S guide for regular maintenance the engine oil should be checked before starting the engine and after every five hours of operation. Also change the oil after each 25 hours of operation, re-oil the air cleaner at 25 hours, washing the oil-foam element in kerosene or detergent and then dry, saturate with engine oil and squeeze to remove excess oil – I remember that from college years ago. How many domestic lawnmowers get that treatment nowadays? 

Finally ‘Service Notes’ on the guide helpfully advise that if the engine is difficult to start when cold then rotate the carburetor needle 1/8 turn counterclockwise, if it’s hard to start when hot then turn it 1/8 turn clockwise. ‘When working on engine or equipment disconnect spark plug wire…to avoid accidental starting’  – I’m sure we all know stories about someone accidentally starting an engine via turning the mower blade.

Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card

1976 Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card – Side 1

Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card - Side 2

1976 Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card – Side 2

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