If you didn’t know that only the quarter-inch tip of your mowing blade is really the only thing that needs to be sharp, you missed an opportunity to learn about how to maintain most of your small equipment at the first “Let’s Get Dirty” workshop.
North Point Outdoors in Derry hosted the hands-on event that gave the dozen participants insights into the most common equipment problems – and their solutions.
Chris Baker, fleet manager, and his assistant Andrew “Junior” Giampalo, led the group around the shop examining several pieces of equipment in need of repair or maintenance.
“The biggest villain for most engines in any fleet is ethanol gasoline,” Baker said. “Ethanol separates from the gasoline after 30 days and turns to a solid.” Ethanol also attracts water, therefore keep your equipment entirely filled when is use, then empty the tank entirely at the end of the season. For large equipment, such as mowers, use a fuel stabilizer in a full tank if it will be stored until next season. Then turn off the fuel and run the engine until the fuel line is empty to avoid carburetor problems.
Giampalo took apart several small two-cycle engines, showing the various small filters that need regular scrutiny if the engines falter or fail to operate at the highest levels.
“Every engine needs three things: air, fuel and sparks,” Giampalo said. “If your engine isn’t running, it’s most likely one of those three things. Check your filters and replace them.”
Both mechanics suggested putting together a simple tool kit for road repairs: air and fuel filters, spark plugs, and the tools that come with every piece of equipment.
They said most cutting equipment also needs regular sharpening, especially pruners and mowers. North Point mowing crews sharpen their blades three times a week.
After a few hours in the shop, attendees had pizza, salad, and soft drinks in the North Point office and enjoyed a free-wheeling conversation about maintenance and business practices.
Benjamin Gibbs of TNT Landscaping of Epsom summed up the workshop: “Know the process – and just do it. Every time.”
by Mike Barwell