Lawnmowner wrestling

Since we moved into our house nearly six years ago, I have had a secondhand lawn mower that gets the job done. It is self-propelled with a front wheel drive, but that feature has been a bane. When it is turned off, the mower was exceedingly difficult to use — it wouldn’t even roll downhill by itself!

The self-propelling feature came to a halt almost two weeks ago when I got a wheel stuck under a bolt on a fence. It had been taking a lot of abuse over the years, and this was the end of the line.

I finished up the yard as best I could, fighting against the mower every inch of the way, since the front wheels would hardly turn. Once the yard was done, it was time for surgery.

I disassembled the front wheels and mounting brackets, which was not easy. The front wheels include attached plastic gears, which are driven by metal gears on the drive shaft. As it turned out, one of the tires’ plastic gears had been completely flattened. No wonder it’s not working, I thought.

I ordered replacement parts from Art’s Lawn Mower Shop in Black Jack, and today (a week later) I picked them up. Then it was off to Home Depot in search of a special wrench for split rings. They didn’t have it, but I did find it at Lowe’s.

Next it was time to reassemble everything. I ended up doing it twice for one of the wheels when I realized I probably should lubricate the pieces since it was all taken apart.

It took a while, but everything went back together. I had won … I hoped.

Topped off the gas tank, primed the pump, and pulled the starter. Waited a minute for the engine to warm up, then I pulled back on the lever to begin the self-propelling.

Only one wheel was turning. And slowly.

So, it turns out the battle was more of a draw. My hypothesis is the front wheel drive / transmission / whatever was also broken.

But there was good news — unlike before, the front wheels turn freely now when self-propulsion is disengaged. The mower will even roll downhill by itself. So at least I could cut the grass!

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