Won't rabbit? Just bogs? (what do those terms even mean?)
Updated: Jan 23
My troubles began when I tried to trim the edges of the garden, finishing up after building an enclosure to keep out the dreaded groundhog we had affectionately named "Fat Bastard" - so named because he was a large critter and seeming to be increasing in girth in direct relation to nibbling on the emerging greens in the garden.
As I began trimming the grass at the base of the newly installed fencing, the Stihl grass trimmer began to falter, lose power, and barely run at all. At first I thought it must be the mixture of oil to gas since I had just filled the tank. Perhaps I had miscalculated the 40:1 mix? I had been doing this for years, but this was in the age of Covid-19, and perhaps my calculations were a bit off? I mixed a fresh gallon with new oil, double-checked my measurements, emptied the trimmer's gas compartment and re-filled it, only to find it still sputtering and barely turning over.
I removed the sparkplug, cleaned it up and tried again. Nope. OK, it was time to consult the mighty oracle of YouTube. A quick search seemed to suggest that indeed the oil mix was the problem, but since I had tried to remedy that problem, to no avail, I decided to take it in to my local small engines repair shop out of frustration and despair. My only hope, when I drop off anything to be looked at and repaired, was that it wouldn't cost me more than the value of the trimmer itself. Of course they could not guarantee that, so I left my trimmer and waited for the call.
The weeds grew as the days passed, I would inspect the grounds planning on where I would give my attention when I got my trimmer back. The yard became a reflection of my life under Covid-19, and much like myself in the months since the shelter-in-place advisory was issued, it had grown to look a little ragged and unkempt. I was chaffing at the bit to give the weeds a good trimming.
Soon enough the call came. My trimmer was ready, and the cost was a mere 1/2 hr of shop time. No parts were required. I picked up the trimmer and expressed my gratitude that there were people with mechanical skills who understood the workings of gas-powered trimmers. The owner's wife was the receptionist and she assured me that she would pass along my appreciation to her husband who does like to hear kind words from satisfied customers. Who doesn't? :)
I trotted off with my trimmer and when I arrived home I inspected the bill more closely. It seems that the problem with my trimmer bogging (running rough and without power) was a clogged something or other called a "spark arrestor". Now I really was curious. What was that part and why did it prevent my trimmer motor from rabbiting (running at speed and with loads of torque)?
Off I went to YouTube and this time, when I typed in the part - the spark arrestor - up came a few videos showing the removal, cleaning, and installation of the part. It was simple and easy to do and definitely solved the issue. My modest bill was a both a pleasant surprise and another opportunity to learn. I went out to the garage and promptly got the tools I needed, and removed the spark arrestor and inspected it before installing it again. Attached below are a few photos of the trimmer, the exhaust port where the part is installed, and the part in a close-up view, showing the screen that was now unclogged and able to permit good airflow.
Are people like my trimmer? Feeling lethargic? Not running as efficiently after months of covid-19 precautions and closures? What can we do to regain the inner rabbit? Connecting with others, albeit safely social-distanced is part of that. We derive energy from one another. What about getting outside more? We are still advised not to gather in numbers larger than 10, but we can go for walks and exercise. Every little bit helps to unclog the bog! Maybe there are some online resources, meditation classes and such, that may also help clean out our systems and regain some of the energy we have lost over the past few months. Hopefully, it will cost next to nothing, just a little labour, to get us all back up and running.