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Thread: Small engine starting problems

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    Default Small engine starting problems

    We are having problems with starting our saws. It take at least 5 to 8 pulls to get them to kick over. Then one or 2 more pulls to get them running.

    Here are some details:
    We use ventmaster saws. Checked every week and ran for at least 2 mins. Shut down without going back to a long idle. De-compression button used. Correct oil mix. Preventive maintenance program for twice a year service. Plug gap correct. Filters clean.

    They all start hard. I remember reading an article where FDNY used a high octane mix ie. Cam2 with regular fuel and oil. Sounded like they just used enough to bump up the octane levels and that will help the saw start on the first or 2nd pull. My question is.. Has anyone heard of this? What if any harm will come to the motor? How much would you add to a gallon can? Any other ideas? <-- Ok so that was 4 questions.

    Thanks All

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    One of my pet peeves is when the small engines don't function properly. That could be part of the small engine mechanic in me from when I was younger, or the fact that when you need them the most, you need them in a hurry!

    First and foremost, proper routine maintenance is a must. Sounds like you have this covered. Most volunteer organizations can not run small engines daily like career organizations can, but as a minimum all small engines should be run once a week. This means running them up to operating temperature- running your saw for 2 minutes and then shutting down, IMO is not enough. If you can only run them once a week, I would run them for at least 5 minutes at perhaps half-speed. Then allow to idle down for a minute or two. Let the whole unit cool down for a half hour, and then go back and replenish all fluids and give it the once over.

    Fluids: It is highly imperitive that fresh gasoline be used at all times. If you keep a gallon in a can on the truck, but your activity levels mean the gas is around for a while, you MUST MUST MUST MUST use an additive, such as STA-BIL in order to stabilize the gas and prevent gumming and laquering. STA-BIL is approved by most manufacturers, works with 2 or 4 stroke engines and mixes, and will not void warranties.

    High-Octane fuels: I have never heard this about FDNY, but I will ask a close friend who is in their SOC. I would think that this would void any manufacturer's warranties however. From working in the industry, I know for a fact that warranty requirements for small engines (especially saws and other 2-stroke applications) are held to high requirements due to the nature of higher octane fuels, as well as other problems that are "the nature of the beast" with 2-strokes. Bottom line: I dont think this would be necessary if the small engines are properly cared for.

    I will look into this FDNY high octane thing and get back to you.
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    A little background. We are a combination department but have career staffing (6 of us total) 0600 to 1800 each day. That being said, our vehicle check schedule has us starting saws on 2nd and 3rd out rigs on our weekly checks. We do saws and jaws each morning on our first out piece but it never gets any better. It makes no difference on time between running them.

    The article I read was in fire engineering I think. It was some time back (let's say a year). He was a driver. Now I may be getting my reading mixed up a bit so don't quote me.

    I know that over the years vehicles take less octane unlike the performance rides of the past. Pinging is not near as much an issue as it once was. Small engines still perform better with better quality fuel. The octane levels would surely help with performance. You're correct on being irritated by hard starting engines.

    Thanks for checking into the matter with NYFD. I'm going to be calling the company for advice.

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    Some great info in here already, but having just dealt with some issues this month, here is some info i have found.

    The new gasoline at pumps now is absolutley horrible to store. I just recently picked up two backpack blowers and asked about a 5 gallon can to buy. They told me i was better off buying a one gallon can and refilling it more often. I took his word for it since he was not trying to sell me something more expensive. I am not a chemist, but it has to do with all the stupid additives for emmissions. The small engine shop we deal with said they are making a fortune off repairs from people storing equipment for as little as a few months. And this is despite warning people of the problems. They cannot figure out why you used to be able to store a mower for 6 months with no issues and now two months will kill it.

    We bought a 5hp snowblower last winter, used it twice then stored it for about 3 months. It would not restart. Brought it the shop, was told the carb was destroyed by varnish. Cost over $200.00 in parts and labor. Again i was told todays gas cannot be reliably stored. While StaBil helps, nothing beats fresh gas.

    Our new procedures are to buy straight gas in 5 gallon containers. Whatever is left after 30 days is dumped into a vehicle and new gas is bought. For two stroke engines, we use 1-1/4 gallon cans filled to 1 gallon with the fuel/oil mix. All equipment is started up and run at least three times a week for at least 10 minutes per piece of equipment. Then the tanks are topped off. Due to grounds care with leaf blowers, we put any leftover 2 stroke into the blowers, then buy new fuel. Bottom line, the oldest gas on in our gear or in storage is 30 days old, max.

    In the case of the snowblower which will not be used for the spring/summer. It is run dry and stored empty. Which works even better then using StaBil. We use the same procedure for any equipment that will not be used for 30 days or more. Even spare saws.
    jimanderson likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WD6956 View Post
    It is run dry and stored empty. Which works even better then using StaBil. We use the same procedure for any equipment that will not be used for 30 days or more. Even spare saws.
    When I store my blower (or mowers) I run them dry using gas mixed with sta-bil, which will coat the brass in the carb as well as the tin float and prevent laquering. In the spring they start every time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    When I store my blower (or mowers) I run them dry using gas mixed with sta-bil, which will coat the brass in the carb as well as the tin float and prevent laquering. In the spring they start every time.
    That is a great idea. Ill have to try that. My shop here who did the carb replacement said that on that particular unit, which was a Tecumseh (Spelling?) the carb floats and jets were plastic and had melted from the gas additives and being stored.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WD6956 View Post
    That is a great idea. Ill have to try that. My shop here who did the carb replacement said that on that particular unit, which was a Tecumseh (Spelling?) the carb floats and jets were plastic and had melted from the gas additives and being stored.
    The needle and seat are probably brass.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjw2312 View Post
    I remember reading an article where FDNY used a high octane mix ie. Cam2 with regular fuel and oil. Sounded like they just used enough to bump up the octane levels and that will help the saw start on the first or 2nd pull.
    Confirmed from my best friend, a member of Squad Company 18: FDNY Does NOT use any special high-octane fuels. Standard Procedure is for any 87 octane fuels to be used, in fact any octane-boosting additives are FORBIDDEN as they will void warranties as well as eventually ruin engines through the higher operating temperatures.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    We have gone to 105 Racing fuel as of 3 years ago at the Recommendation or the repair shop that was fixing our equipment. We use it both Mixed and Straight in all saws, generators, outboards, powerheads, fans and lighting.
    Since using we have not had an issue with the Carburetors gumming up with the junk that they are adding to the fuel. They start first or second pull, we don't burn up pistons or valves.
    We do not have the Issue of the gas going Stale either, The drawbacks are that it is not easy to come by and it is pricey 3-4 time what normal pump gas is, when we cant get the racing fuel we have used Aircraft fuel due to there being less additives but we try not to keep it around as long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captaincvfd View Post
    We have gone to 105 Racing fuel as of 3 years ago at the Recommendation or the repair shop that was fixing our equipment.
    I'd be curious to know if the Manufacturers of the engines of all the units you mentioned would honor warranties in the event of a catastrophic failure. Having worked in the small engine industry myself (for a regional distributor that also had a warranty shop) I am inclined to doubt it. And as previously stated, if they are properly maintained, the racing fuel shouldn't be necessary and is a waste.
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    The wildland side of things just started using "Tool Fuel".

    I'm not a rep and I haven't been using it long enough, but it sure sounds appealing.

    http://www.esiequipment.com/tool_fuel.htm
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Interesting. ESI is one of our local reps, and in fact sells and maintains our Holmatro tools. I submitted an inquiry to see if the various MFR's of small engines approve the use of this stuff and/or will it void factory warranties; and also what the cost per gallon was. If/when they get back to me I will post the reply.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    In regards to small equipment. We started using av-gas probably 10 yrs in all small engined equipment. We have not had any problems with 2 or 4 cycle units. We have an account at the local airport to purchase it. It works for us.

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    I'm not so sure we won't try higher octane. I'm glad to hear someone is having good luck with running it. Draining fuel works good for some people on small engines but not for me. I've had nothing but problems whenever i've done it. Stabil <-- i'm not convinced is a good thing. Whenever i drained my fuel in my mower it had to go to the shop for work. Now i just leave it in. I do however, use a briggs and stratton additive, on advice from my small engine dealer.

    With that being said, everyone has their own way of storing and maintaining their equipment. I don't think that any one way is wrong or right. Whatever works for everyone.

    I'm glad i got a reply from the FDNY on what they do, or don't do. I think we are going to try some higher octane. See if that helps. These saws are well taken care of and should start with no problems.

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    OK.. so I've been talking to our small engine guy on the husky saws. He said they would perfer that the octane be 92 to 97. But in this area it's hard to get. BP (gas stations) sell 90 but that's the highest around. Mixing with CAM2 or trying an octane boost will work, you'd have to do the math and figure it out. He also said that it would'nt void the warranty at all. If anyone gets anymore info let me know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tjw2312 View Post
    Stabil <-- i'm not convinced is a good thing. Whenever i drained my fuel in my mower it had to go to the shop for work.
    Did you also run it until it stopped? This is imperative to do, as any fuels left in the carb will spoil and then laquer/gum.

    As you stated, everyone has their way. Many moons ago, I worked in the small engine industry. Today, when I store my lawn mower for the winter, or the snow blower for the summer, I will run them for a few minutes with fresh gasoline that has been mixed with Sta-Bil according to the directions. This "coats" the interior of the carb, and also the crankcase of a 2-stroke unit. In the spring, or the winter, I add some fresh gasoline, and they start right up. never have had a problem.

    The use of the higher-octane fuels scares me, perhaps I am more sensitive to what they can do from having worked in the industry. But hey, if it works for you, ok! I still say it isn't necessary when proper maintenance is adhered to. Thats my story and I am sticking to it!
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    Here's what Shindaiwa says about octane:

    Only use fresh, clean unleaded gasoline with a pump Octane of 89 or higher through 93 (mid-grade to premium) at all times. The gasoline suppliers blend mid-grade and premium gasoline with greater amounts of detergents and anti-oxidizing additives to keep the engines clean. Lack of these detergents and additives in a 2-stroke engine will cause a heavy build-up of varnish and gum deposits on the piston surface and ring grooves. Regular unleaded 87 octane or lower gasoline may not contain enough of the detergent additives that are needed in a 2-stroke engine to keep varnish, gum, and tar deposits from forming. Use of 87 octane fuel may shorten the life of the engine.

    Here's what Partner/Husqvarna says:


    Fuel and Lubrication:
    Fuel: Unleaded gasoline, minimum 89 RON.
    Fuel/Oil Mixture Ratio:
    50:1 using Partner branded two-stroke oil
    25:1 using high quality two-stroke oil for air-cooled engines

    I guess I'll stop buying regular un-leaded for my tools, around here
    regular is 87 octane

    Don

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    I just checked the manual in our new Stihl blowers and they reccomend 89 octane.

    A pretty well respected tree worker forum had a similar discussion going on:

    http://www.arboristsite.com/showthread.php?t=26155

    They obviously spend alot of time working with chainsaws, more then us in most cases so their input i think is worthwhile. Some interesting discussions and points are given.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    I'd be curious to know if the Manufacturers of the engines of all the units you mentioned would honor warranties in the event of a catastrophic failure. Having worked in the small engine industry myself (for a regional distributor that also had a warranty shop) I am inclined to doubt it. And as previously stated, if they are properly maintained, the racing fuel shouldn't be necessary and is a waste.

    Truthfully we don't care Most of our Equipment is not New and we would rather have our equipment start when we need it. and what is still gets the Racing fuel with out any additives
    Our Equipment is Maintained and now starts when we need it we have had good luck Racing fuel and I am glad to see the same results for someone on the Av. gas.

    If the Tool dose not start and run on scene then its a waste to even own it, so If we do burn something up Which we have not I guess that's life.

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    Default Ethanol

    I think Ethanol is widely being used as an additive to gasoline. Therefore water absorbtion is the problem affecting small engines.

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    Default Ethanol issues

    After speaking with our local small engine shop (Stihl power equipment and Hustler mower dealer). The major culprit in our area is the 10% ethanol that is blended in to just about all the fuel in our area. The ethanol causes problems with the plastic/synthetic parts in the engines. The proposed solution was to run a fuel that does not contain the 10% ethanol. In our are southern Wisconsin this means using a 91 or 93 octane depending upon which station we purchase at. The shops recommendation is to use the premium fuel without ethanol, add Stabil type additive, and rotate fuel every three months. So far good sucess in the FD's equipment and my personal equipment.

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    Update:
    Ok so we have made up a test gallon of fuel for our vent saws. We took a dry 1 gallon can and added 1 gallon of 89 Octane (no ethanol) gas, Echo 2 stroke mix (50 to 1) and 3/4 ounce of 104 octane boost. Mixed everything up and added to the saw after draining the fuel. I'll let everyone know how it works out. Thanks for everyones help and input on the issue.

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    If you want a neat little test on what kind of junk is gumming up your small engines
    Take a clear Mason Jar and fill with your favorite flavor gas seal it and put it so it wont be disturbed for a month
    Then see what's sitting on the bottom that's what's in your carburetor on your first pull.
    The Av. gas and racing fuels are not required to have the additives that you auto fuel has to have for Emission controls

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    Default Gas Storage etc

    Like many of you we have had the same problems with all our small engine equipment, from boat motors to saws, to stanley hydraulic units etc. Our department is fairly large and in a metropolitan area. We must get our gasoline from the county, and it buys pretty cheap stuff. In our area, all the gas is also 10% ethanol (alchohol) which as all of us know from our hazmat training is miscible in water. So a large portion of the problem is finite particles of water in the fuel that never seperates because of the alchohol. Higher Octane gases help combat that water by burning hotter in the combustion chamber (also racing fuels and AV gas are exempt from having the alchohol "oxidizer"). So with that problem, a call to Sta-bil was made, and they make a special "marine" grade Sta-bil that is formulated for use in Ethanol blended fuels. We started to use that in all our fuel cans and our problems have reduced greatly although have not dissapeared completely.

    Hope that helps.

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    Lightbulb Possible solution to small engine starts...

    While I only have experience with 2 stroke pumps, landscaping equipment, etc., I go out of the way to try to find gas with NO ethanol blended in, or at least a smaller amount. I believe they can add up to 15% now. As for gasoline stabilizer, it is a must have, but most people dont realize that many of the 2 cycle oils now have stabilizers and anti-gum additives mixed in, so you may not need to add a seperate product like sta-bil. I also like to use a well-branded gas station, usually better additives are blended in. For instance, I usually will use Shell Gas, 87 octane. To this I add my 2 cycle oil with stabilizers already blended in...And If there is a primer bulb, I usually find that starting is much easier if you prime it about 3-4 times the amount it says to.
    I have never tried this, and I'm not sure if it is even meant for small 2 cycle engines, but maybe buying a can of Thrust, or some other type of starting fluid (ether), and spraying a small amount In the air filter would 'spark' things up a bit better? Lastly, I would find out if a different brand of spark plug that uses multiple spark points instead of just a regular single sparking plug is acceptable for use in your equipment. The metal piece which connects the spark is usually 'v' shaped to get more sparking action. They are usually a bit more money, but not much. Anyways, I hope I shed a few ideas to y'all. -Michael

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