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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Introduction and help

My name is dave and I live in county Sligo in the rep of Ireland.
I have a small collection of atco mowers.
My problem is as follows;
I ran my atco fourteen out of petrol the other evening, try as I might, I cannot get it started.
Cleaned carb several times(grrrr!)
Fresh petrol
Cleaned points ( strong blue spark)
New plug
Still nothing
Changed pull starter ( you all know why!!)
I cannot understand what is going on, or not going on!!
Any thoughts


topgunhorse Tue, 06/05/2014

Don't you just love them!

Fuel is definitely leaving the tank?

Fuel is reaching the carb when you "tickle" it?

Sounds like it's pulled a bit of muck through. If the plug isn't getting wet with fuel that must be the case.


vanjim50 Tue, 06/05/2014

Have to agree with Topgunhorse.When the tank was allowed to run empty,detritis from the bottom of the fuel tank has probably made its way into the system.I think it is yet another carb clean,until the problem is solved.Also ,pay particular attention to the fuel pipe and give it a good sluice through.After all,the muck has to settle somewhere and the pipe is the first call.Good luck,Dave,and welcome to the club.

davemedlyn Tue, 06/05/2014

Thanks for the reply, just spent another couple of hours in the shed. Started the process again, this time with another carb bottom. Reset the points cleaned the flywheel, drained the tank and cleaned the in tank filter. Blew through the fuel pipe, fitted spare float.
Fuel is leaving the tank and fuel is getting into carb, which overflows when tickled. Plug is getting wet when turned over. Even tried spinning over with a drill as I'm fresh out of pull starters!!!
Big fat zero
I really don't know what to try next!
Dave ( now in mental home in co Sligo!!)

wristpin Tue, 06/05/2014

You don't say whether  it is a two or four stroke , but Is the plug wet or dry? If dry, squirt a bit of fuel into the carb intake or even the cylinder via the plug . If it fires , even just once, it proves the point that the problem is fuel related.

davemedlyn Tue, 06/05/2014

Thanks for your comment wristpin, sorry, the mower is an atco d14 with a Suffolk engine. The plug is getting plenty of fuel. I was just wondering wether the spark is weakened when under compression? I know this happens in motorcycle engines sometimes. My spark seems fairly strong and the points have plenty of "meat" on them. I will give the carb another clean tomorrow with some nail varnish remover and see what happens. Apart from that, I really don't know what else to do

wristpin Tue, 06/05/2014

A weak spark in air can disappear when under compression but if the thing was running ok until it ran out of fuel there is no logical reason to think that will have changed.

The fact that the plug is wet but not firing suggests one of  two things . One that you are loosing the spark under compression and the other, and don't fall about laughing 'cos it it has happened, what did you refill the tank with?!


davemedlyn Thu, 08/05/2014

Cleaned the card this morning and she fired. A few more pulls and she is running, albeit very lumpy. I think I have the carb settings right? The top screw is tick over mixture and the float bowl screw is main jet? Am I right? If the point gap is slightly wrong, will it run lumpy and the pick up will show signs of hesitancy?
If anyone can put me right it would be great. Thanks to everyone who chipped in. Great forum

wristpin Thu, 08/05/2014

You are correct in identifying the carb adjusting screws. "lumpy" to me suggests running rich, is the float ok, any sign of flooding, any black smoke?

Probably not applicable in your case, but I have seen the very small drilling from where the slow/idle adjuster screws in, and exits on the engine side of the carb, blocked . Best seen with the carb removed from the engine and peering down the manifold. With the adjuster screw removed the end of a piece of soft wire carefully poked through it from the engine end can be seen sticking out where the adjuster screw would be. However if that is blocked it usually results in no idle.

Wouldn't think that a couple of thou either way would upset the running but aim for exact. same for the plug gap and ignition timing.

davemedlyn Fri, 09/05/2014

Hi wristpin,
Just adjusted the point gap a bit smaller and hey presto, running like a watch!!!
Many thanks for all your help and suggestions. Started cutting the lawn and bang the drive chain broke!!!
Ah the crazy world of old mowers. I think I better leave my workshopas I'm standing over the mower with a large hammer in my hand!
Once again thanks for your help

wristpin Fri, 09/05/2014

Friend of mine says "If it can't be fixed with a hammer - it's electrical! "

hillsider Fri, 09/05/2014

That's strange, our electricians used say the opposite. If they could not fix a fault they used say it was a mechanical problem!

wristpin Sat, 10/05/2014

Ray, think that your sparkies had been sniffing too much ozone!