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Lawn Striping Basics: Mow Like a Pro

Lawn Striping Basics - WeingartzWith baseball season underway, many people may find themselves admiring field patterns and wondering how they are created. This technique, also known as “lawn striping,” is widely-practiced by groundskeepers to transform ordinary grass into aesthetically-pleasing designs. The patterns range from simple to elaborate, but the technique is ultimately the same.

The secret to great lawn striping is all about lighting. Sunlight reflects off of grass blades, creating an illusion that each blade is darker or lighter depending on the surface area that is exposed to sunlight. Surprisingly enough, adjusting the surface area isn’t achieved by cutting grass—it’s achieved by bending it. When grass is bent at different angles, sunlight will reflect more brightly off of larger surfaces (the long side of the grass blade) and less brightly off of smaller surfaces (the tip of the grass blade). This effect is created by simply mowing in different directions, and can be emphasized by attaching weights, rollers, or brooms to the lawn mower.

To create your own lawn striping, start by attaching a lawn striping kit to your riding lawn mower, then begin at one side of your yard and mow in a straight line to the other side. Turning the mower around (a mower with zero-turn capabilities works best in this situation), be careful to line up your wheels with the previous line, then mow another straight line in the direction you originally came from. Repeat this lawn striping process until your yard is completely mowed. Remember not to mow your grass too short (keep the length at about three inches), or the grass will not be long enough to bend efficiently.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of lawn striping, try switching things up with a diagonal stripe or checkerboard pattern, which can be achieved by striping your lawn east to west, then north to south. If you want your lawn striping to appear even more prominent after using roller or broom kits, try watering your grass to enhance the pattern. It is also important to note that your lawn striping will change slightly in appearance throughout the day as the angle of the sun changes, so check frequently to see which time of day is best for viewing your lawn!

Looking for the perfect mower to achieve your own lawn striping? Click here to check out our complete inventory of zero-turn riding mowers!

 

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For over 65 years, Weingartz has been the trusted North American leader in sales, parts, and service of outdoor power equipment. A family-owned and operated business, Weingartz continues to serve commercial and residential buyers across Michigan and online at www.weingartz.com.

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When to Sharpen or Replace Your Lawn Mower Blade

When to Sharpen or Replace Your Lawn Mower Blade

To achieve a great cut and a healthy lawn, it is essential to regularly sharpen or replace your lawn mower blade. Generally, one good sharpening at the start and one around the middle of mowing season should suffice until you store your mower for the winter (click here for tips on storing small engine equipment). If your mower picks up any stray debris throughout the season, however (sticks, caps, etc.), it is wise to schedule additional sharpening as needed. The exact timing depends on workload, but there are a few tell-tale signs that will help you stay on schedule. With the following tricks, you can develop a trained eye and keep your lawn mower blade up to par all season.

The first and most obvious thing to look for is unevenness in your lawn. When your lawn mower blade is sharp, your grass should be cut at the same height every time with just one pass of the mower. If you find yourself making multiple passes to compensate for missed patches of grass, a dull blade may be the culprit.

Another way to tell if your lawn mower blade needs sharpening is by closely inspecting the grass. If you notice that the tip of each grass blade is torn and not cleanly-sliced, it may be time to switch out your blade. Torn tips may also decrease grass health, causing grass to lose its lush, green color to an unhealthy shade of brown.

Lastly—and perhaps most obviously—you can inspect the blade itself. While your lawn mower blade can usually be salvaged with routine sharpening, it is important to look for large chips or dents in the cutting edge that cannot be smoothed out. Inconsistencies in the blade are likely to tear grass rather than delivering the clean cut that’s important for your lawn. Also pay attention to the thickness of your lawn mower blade. Over time, sand, dirt, and other yard debris can erode the blade, causing the metal to weaken and become paper-thin. If you notice this, replace the blade immediately to avoid breakage during mowing, which can cause pieces of metal to fly apart and possibly injure you or other bystanders.

Overall, paying close attention to your lawn and your mower will help greatly in determining when to sharpen or your replace your lawn mower blade. Remember the signs, perform maintenance regularly, and your lawn mower blade should cut beautifully every time you mow.

 

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Spring Lawn Preparation: 6 Helpful Guidelines

Spring Lawn PreparationAs we enter the final leg of winter and gear up for spring, there are many things on our to-do lists that are best taken care of before mowing season. For those still dealing with the occasional snowfall, however, it can be difficult to find a starting place when it comes to spring lawn preparation. In this article, we explain how to keep your lawn healthy before and during the spring thaw.

Spring Lawn Preparation Tip #1 – Clear Debris

After a long, stormy winter, it’s normal to find some extra sticks and leaves lying around your lawn. As snow melts and uncovers more debris, save yourself some mowing struggles by picking up loose objects as you find them. That way, once warmer weather rolls around, you’ll have less mess to clean before starting up your lawn tractor for the season.

Spring Lawn Preparation Tip #2 – Move Snow Piles

Help snow thaw a little more quickly and evenly by moving it around.  Pushing snow into a thinned-out layer will not only help it melt faster than snow in large piles, it will also allow more sunlight to get through to your lawn and help jump-start grass health.

Spring Lawn Preparation Tip #3 – Keep Off the Grass

When the ground is blanketed in snow, it’s important to remember that foot or vehicle traffic can quickly cause damage to your lawn. In addition to disfiguring soggy ground, applying unnecessary pressure can tear grass that is weak from saturation. This breakage can keep grass from growing back, causing the need to re-seed.

To discourage yourself and others from traveling across snow-covered grass, make sure to regularly clear walkways and paths. Be careful, however, not to scatter salt and other ice melting materials onto your lawn, which could also cause damage to overall grass growth and health.

Spring Lawn Preparation Tip #4 – Remember Your Trees

While it can be easy to focus solely on your lawn during seasonal transitions, you should never forget about your trees. Even evergreens can fall suspect to the powers of winter weather, but regularly clearing snow from tree limbs with a broom or leaf blower can help prevent broken branches due to added weight (click here for expert advice on choosing the right leaf blower). This is also a good time to trim overgrown or broken branches, as dormant trees are more resilient than trees that are busy bearing flowers and leaves during warmer months (click here for winter chainsaw safety tips).

Spring Lawn Preparation Tip #5 – Stock Up On Seasonal Materials

As you wait for spring to arrive in all its glory, utilize any downtime to stock up on spring essentials like seeds and spare parts. Having everything you need on hand will let you get to work faster since you won’t be scrambling for lawn care essentials at the last minute. Not sure which parts you need? Click here to use our handy illustrated parts diagram.

Spring Lawn Preparation Tip #6 – Don’t Jump the Gun

When the first sunny, snowless day of the season rolls around, don’t be too quick to jump into yard work. Although the ground may finally be visible, the soil is likely to hold significant amounts of water from melted snow and spring rain. Hold off on watering until the ground has dried out completely, and be careful to not walk or maneuver heavy equipment on top of wet ground where grass and soil could be damaged.

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About Weingartz

For over 65 years, Weingartz has been the trusted North American leader in sales, parts, and service of outdoor power equipment. A family-owned and operated business, Weingartz continues to serve commercial and residential buyers across Michigan and online at www.weingartz.com.


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Winter Chainsaw Safety: 5 Tips for Injury Prevention

Winter Chainsaw SafetyEach year, about 40,000 people are injured in chainsaw-related accidents. Winter can be an especially dangerous time for wood-cutting activities, since frozen wood is harder to cut and outdoor surfaces are often covered in slick ice and heavy snow. So, what do you need to remember the next time you plan a day of cold-weather tree-trimming? Below, we outline a checklist of winter chainsaw safety tips to help you prepare.


Winter Chainsaw Safety Tip #1 – Do Your Research

When taking on a new project, it is important to choose a chainsaw that is well-suited for the job. Using a chainsaw that is too small, too large, insufficient in power, or even too powerful for the task at hand could cause complications during use, resulting in injury. Also be sure to thoroughly read all instruction and safety manuals to ensure that you are familiar with your chainsaw and know how to switch it off at a moment’s notice in case of emergency.


Winter Chainsaw Safety Tip #2 – Prepare Your Chainsaw

Regular maintenance and cleaning can greatly enhance chainsaw performance and in turn, increase safety during operation. Pay careful attention to clean any build-up from the sprockets and chain grooves, replace spark plugs, and clean the air filter (for more tips on small engine equipment maintenance, click here).

When mixing fuel, stick to small batches, as fuel can go bad quickly in cold weather. Additionally, be sure to sharpen your blades, and decrease your chain’s filing angle by five degrees to help with handling frozen wood. Using a carbide-tipped chain can also make winter cutting tasks easier, as they are designed for heavy-duty jobs and stay sharp longer than typical chains.


Winter Chainsaw Safety Tip #3 – Wear Protective Clothing

As with any outdoor work activity, always wear weather-appropriate clothing and the correct protective gear for the job. Warm, moisture-resistant layers can increase comfort in frigid weather and help protect against cutting or splintering mishaps that could occur while operating your chainsaw. It is also important to shield yourself from flying wood shards and loud noise, so invest in a good pair of safety glasses, ear plugs, and a hard hat or helmet for overall protection. Finish off your ensemble with a pair of protective gloves, a sturdy pair of boots, and well-fitting chainsaw chaps. The more protection, the better, since chainsaw accidents can be severe and are easier to prevent than repair.

 

Winter Chainsaw Safety Tip #4 – Prepare Your Environment

Once you’re ready to get to work, round up a friend to serve as your assistant for the day (you should always have a helper nearby when operating your chainsaw, especially if you’re felling trees).  Make sure your colleague is also outfitted in protective clothing, and standing at least 30 feet away from all chainsaw activity (or 150 feet away if you are felling). Next, remove as much snow as possible from tree branches and from around the trunk before engaging your chainsaw. This will help to increase visibility and reduce the likelihood of having snow-heavy branches fall on top of you.

 

Winter Chainsaw Safety Tip #5 – Operate With Care

Some chainsaws are equipped with a “winter” switch function for better cold-weather control—turn that on if you have it. Using both hands, operate your chainsaw according to the instruction manual (see Winter Chainsaw Safety Tip #1 above), taking care to cut at waist level or lower. Never cut a tree or limb while another person is holding it, and remain vigilant of your surroundings to avoid slipping on slick surfaces or being hit by flying ice.

To further improve chainsaw performance, try to keep condensation from forming inside of your fuel tank. Preventative measures include clearing snow from around the tank opening and avoiding dramatic temperature changes (caused by traveling between cold-weather areas and warm, indoor areas). These efforts will help prolong the life of your fuel mix and in turn, keep your chainsaw working efficiently for longer periods of time.

 

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About Weingartz

For over 65 years, Weingartz has been the trusted North American leader in sales, parts, and service of outdoor power equipment. A family-owned and operated business, Weingartz continues to serve commercial and residential buyers across Michigan and online at www.weingartz.com.


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Snowblower Safety: 6 Tips for Homeowners

Snowblower Safety

During snow season, few things lighten your workload like a powerful snowblower. The benefits of quick snow removal are time-saving when compared to shoveling, but there are also dangers to watch out for when clearing your driveway or walkway. With these snowblower safety tips, however, you can enjoy a productive, stress-free winter.

Snowblower Safety Tip #1: Consider Your Health

While snowblowers are designed for convenience, people with heart, back, or other medical conditions could be negatively impacted by physical exertion during snowblower use. Check with your doctor to see if this activity is safe for you, and consider hiring an outside service to clear your driveway if you have any concerns about your health or safety.

Snowblower Safety Tip #2: Know Your Machine

A very important component of snowblower safety involves knowing everything about the snowblower before starting it up. Study your owner’s manual, learn how to quickly shut off your snowblower in case of emergency, and make sure you understand how to use all of the features on your machine. If you’ve enlisted a friend or family member to help you, make sure that person has a complete understanding of the snowblower, as well. Do not let any child under the age of 15 operate a snowblower. For children 15 and over, make sure to go over all functions and snowblower safety rules prior to operation.

Snowblower Safety Tip #3: Know Your Surroundings

Remove any rocks, sticks, or other objects that could be picked up and thrown by the snowblower, causing structural damage or bodily harm. If you live on a steep hill, consider using an alternative snow removal method, as using a snowblower can be dangerous in places where you might lose your footing. Also, if you must use your snowblower to clear a gravel driveway, use a two-stage or three-stage snowblower that can be adjusted height-wise to pass over loose rocks. Never use a single-stage snowblower on a rocky path, as small stones will be picked up by the paddles and tossed into the air (click here to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of different snowblower types).

Snowblower Safety Tip #4: Make Sure Everything is in Working Order

Snowblower safety depends greatly on the condition of your machine. Damaged snowblowers are more likely to malfunction, so it is important to make sure that everything is in good shape and works as it should. Make sure tires are properly inflated, check the clutch, chute, and blower system for any wear and tear, and ensure that all extension cords (for electric snowblowers) are designed for outdoor use and are not fraying.

Snowblower Safety Tip #5: Swap Loose Accessories for Protective Gear

Always wear protective eyewear (in case of flying objects), gloves, boots with good traction, and earplugs to shield your hearing from loud snowblower noise. Make sure all clothing is fitted (oversized hats, for example, can fall over your eyes and block your vision), and avoid wearing loose scarves or dangling jewelry, which can get caught in the snowblower while it is running.

Snowblower Safety Tip #6: Be Smart & Pay Attention

Do not start your snowblower inside your garage, shed, or any other indoor area. Snowblower fumes can be dangerously toxic in enclosed spaces, so always make sure you are in an open, outdoor area. After starting your snowblower, remain aware of your surroundings and stop the machine immediately if people, animals, or unexpected objects appear in your path. Always point your chute away from anything or anyone that could be damaged or hurt, be especially careful of your footing when walking on slick surfaces, and avoid operating your snowblower when bad weather obscures visibility.

Also important to remember: NEVER stick your hands or feet into the front of the snowblower—even when the machine is not running. Auger blades can continue to spin after the snowblower has been turned off, severing fingers and hands. This mishap is the number-one snowblower-related injury, but can be easily avoided. When you encounter a snow-clogged snowblower, turn off the machine and wait a minute until the blades stop spinning. Next, use a clearing tool that is specifically-designed to clear packed snow from your snowblower. Always leave safety guards and shields in place, and stay away from moving parts while the snowblower is running.

Takeaway – Snowblower Safety

Overall, becoming knowledgeable of your snowblower and using common sense will take you far when it comes to snowblower safety. Follow the rules, play it safe, and clearing snow will change from a chore to something you can look forward to.

Need help choosing a snowblower that suits your needs? Click here for our video Buyers’ Guide.

About Weingartz

For over 65 years, Weingartz has been the trusted North American leader in sales, parts, and service of outdoor power equipment. A family-owned and operated business, Weingartz continues to serve commercial and residential buyers across Michigan and online at www.weingartz.com.

 

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Buying a Honda EU2000i Generator: Everything You Need to Know

Honda EU2000i Generator

When it comes to quiet, portable power, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a back-up solution as versatile as the Honda EU2000i generator. As our best-selling model, the Honda EU2000i generator is fully-encased to cut down on engine noise (running as quietly as 53 dB(A)!), and weighs just 46.3 pounds—so you can easily tote it anywhere. This small machine also packs a punch with 2000 watts of power, so running a wide range of appliances is a snap. Common Honda EU2000i generator applications include home and camping units such as: refrigerators, freezers, microwave ovens, hair dryers, small air conditioner units, lights, portable fans, televisions, DVD players, coffee makers, computers, garage door openers, and blenders.

What makes all of these features possible? For starters, the Honda EU2000i generator utilizes state-of-the-art inverter technology, a feature that feeds raw power through a special microprocessor to produce clean energy. This stable power is safe for running computers and other sensitive pieces of equipment that depend on minimal fluctuations. Inverter technology also integrates select engine and generator parts, so less room is taken up—reducing the overall size and weight of the Honda EU2000i generator.

The Honda EU2000i generator is also made fuel-efficient by Eco-Throttle technology. Designed to automatically adjust the engine speed to produce just enough power for each application, Eco-Throttle enables the Honda EU2000i generator to run at a much slower RPM than traditional generators. This, in turn, saves fuel because the generator is not constantly running at full speed. The result is 4 to 9.6 hours of run time on a single tank of gas—a savings of up to 40% in fuel consumption, depending on the generator’s load. Understandably, greater fuel efficiency also cuts down on emissions, while slower engine speeds greatly reduce noise.

Need extra power, but only every once in a while? Parallel Capability makes this possible by allowing you to attach your Honda EU2000i generator to an identical model. This option provides twice the energy when you need it while eliminating the need to purchase a larger, heavier model. Honda also offers an EU2000i Companion model with built-in 30-amp receptacle, so connecting two units is easier than ever—just plug in a cord and go.

The Honda EU2000i generator is also equipped with Honda’s Oil Alert system, circuit protection, USDA-qualified spark arrestor and muffler, and a DC outlet for charging automotive-type batteries. A three-year warranty also allows you to rest easy knowing that your Honda EU2000i generator will cover you over years of events and unexpected outages.

Want to learn more about the Honda EU2000i Generator? Click here to view our buyer’s guide.

About Weingartz
For over 65 years, Weingartz has been the trusted North American leader in sales, parts, and service of outdoor power equipment. A family-owned and operated business, Weingartz continues to serve commercial and residential buyers across Michigan and online at www.weingartz.com.

 
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Buying a Snowblower

5 Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Snowblower

Single-stage versus two-stage, electric versus gas—with so many options available in today’s market, buying a snowblower for your driveway or walkway can sometimes seem like a daunting process. Ever-changing features and gimmicks can be distracting, but focusing on your own home environment can help narrow down options and direct you towards buying a snowblower that best suits your needs. 

To begin, you’ll need to consider the following factors:


1. Path Size

How big is the driveway or walkway you’ll be clearing? A typical homeowner will benefit from buying a snowblower with single-stage power, which will typically feature a clearing width between 18 and 22 inches. A single-stage snowblower is also more likely to fit into tight areas, allowing you to easily maneuver on decks and small walkways.

For larger, multiple-car driveways, a two-stage or three-stage snowblower will be your best bet. On average, these snowblowers range between 24 and 48 inches wide, allowing you to clear broader paths more quickly. Two-stage and three-stage snowblowers also feature more powerful engines, which help improve performance in areas with more hilly/diverse terrain.


2. Gravel v. Pavement

Is your driveway paved or covered with gravel? If the answer is gravel, stay away from buying a snowblower with single-stage power. Rubber paddles on single-stage snowblowers are designed to touch the ground for closer snow clearing, and as a result, will throw rocks and other loose articles that can hurt bystanders and damage nearby objects. A better alternative would be buying a snowblower with two-stage or three-stage power, because the height on each of these machines can be adjusted to pass over gravel and avoid possible projectiles and injuries.

If your driveway is paved, you should be safe buying a snowblower with any number of stages. Personal preference comes into play here: if you prefer a larger, more powerful machine, a two-stage or three-stage snowblower will serve you well. Single-stage snowblowers, however, also work well on pavement and could even outperform larger, multiple-stage snowblowers when it comes to clearing snow more closely to the ground.


3. Amount and Type of Snow

While a bigger engine isn’t necessarily the most important factor to consider when buying a snowblower, more power can definitely boost results when it comes to heavy-duty clearing. Two-stage and three-stage snowblowers typically have more powerful engines than their single-stage competitors, and are more resilient when it comes to moving high mounds of heavy, wet snow. Greater clearing heights also help these machines cut through snow that is too deep for smaller, single-stage snowblowers. If, however, you find yourself with light, powdery snow or an average accumulation of less than six inches, buying a snowblower with single-stage power should be sufficient for regular use.


4. Maneuverability

Regardless of where you live, your snowblower should be easy to maneuver. Large two- and three-stage snowblowers are usually self-propelled and take the work out of pushing large machines.  Single-stage snowblowers, while not technically self-propelled, move forward easily by the pull of the rubber paddles (if your single-stage snowblower does not pull itself forward, it’s time for new paddles or a scraper bar). These machines are also smaller and lighter, foregoing much of the extra bulk that is featured in wider two-stage and three-stage snowblowers.


5. Noise

Snowblower use can get tricky in residential areas, particularly when you need to clear snow early in the morning while neighbors are trying to sleep. The solution? Try buying a snowblower that runs on electricity. Because these snowblowers don’t use gas engines, they are smaller and much quieter than fuel-powered machines. Electric snowblowers are also virtually maintenance-free, but are equipped for much lighter snowfall than gas-powered snowblowers.


Making Your Decision

Overall, the decision you make when buying a snowblower should greatly reflect the area you will be clearing. Path size, location, and terrain are all important factors when buying a snowblower, and while larger two-stage and three-stage snowblowers might be great for people with a lot of land, there are many reasons why single-stage snowblowers may be ideal for the average homeowner. Above all, it is important to remember that when buying a snowblower, staying within the lines of what you need is better than choosing a machine based on features that could do more harm than good.

Want more information on buying a snowblower? Click here to view our buyer’s guide or find a Weingartz location near you.


About Weingartz

For over 65 years, Weingartz has been the trusted North American leader in sales, parts, and service of outdoor power equipment. A family-owned and operated business, Weingartz continues to serve commercial and residential buyers across Michigan and online at www.weingartz.com.

 
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Snow-Plow-Material

Poly v. Steel: Key Differences in Snow Plow Material

When it comes to choosing the right snow plow, there are many factors—size, shape, and brand—that come into play when making a decision. One of the most important features you’ll need to decide on, however, is the right snow plow material. Below, we outline the pros and cons of different snow plow material types, allowing you to choose which is best for your personal needs.

Steel
Steel snow plows are a long-time industry favorite, designed to hold up through countless heavy-duty snow removal tasks. Many snow removal professionals prefer steel because it is less costly than alternative snow plow materials, and is more likely to match older plows in existing fleets. Steel snow plows are also treated with special coatings to help reduce rusting, but will eventually corrode over time as they endure prolonged wear and tear. Because of the nature of this snow plow material, these plows are also prone to noisy rattling, which could be an annoyance to some operators.

Poly
Polyethylene (or “poly”) snow plows combine the sturdiness found in steel plows with additional features that help extend snow plow life and increase productivity. Composed of a durable plastic, these plows are scratch- and dent-resistant throughout tough, winter conditions. The slick surfaces of poly plows also allow snow to easily slide off during use, reducing stuck-on snow that could hinder effective path clearing. In addition, colored-treated poly plows retain their color all the way through, so any possible wear that could occur over time will not show as prominently as it would on steel snow plows. On the flip side, poly plows tend to be more expensive than steel plows and usually end up weighing more once properly hooked up. Interestingly enough, poly proponents often choose this snow plow material based on thinking that poly weighs less than steel, but the heavy framework required to reinforce a poly plow actually makes this snow plow material heavier than its steel competitors.

Stainless Steel
Newer to the snow plow material market is stainless steel. Designed for the “dress to impress” crowd, this snow plow improves on the traditional steel plow in durability, scratch resistance, and looks. Of course, the ultra-shiny silver look isn’t for everyone, but for those looking for a change or wanting to match the chrome accents on a work truck, this snow plow material may be just the ticket.

As far as durability is concerned, stainless steel plows are created to resist rust and repel sticking snow better than regular steel snow plows, and will not fade like many colored plows do. Conversely, poly continues to dominate in scratch resistance, but the visually-appealing qualities of stainless steel could have a strong impact on buyer decisions as more options become available.

Making Your Decision
Depending on cost, durability, and visual factors, the best snow plow material could vary greatly from person to person. If you have further questions about which snow plow material is right for you, click here to contact our experts or find a Weingartz location near you.

About Weingartz
For over 65 years, Weingartz has been the trusted North American leader in sales, parts, and service of outdoor power equipment. A family-owned and operated business, Weingartz continues to serve commercial and residential buyers across Michigan and online at www.weingartz.com.

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How to Store Small Engine Equipment for Winter

As summertime and warm weather draw to a close, your outdoor power equipment needs will change for the onset of a new season. That means out with summer equipment, and in with cold-weather replacements. So, what should you do to prepare your small engine equipment for storage?

Fuel
First, and most importantly, you will need to empty all fuel from your four-cycle and two-cycle equipment. Most gasoline contains a substantial amount of ethanol, which breaks down over time and loosens deposits that have formed inside the engine. This causes gum-like material to move around inside the fuel system, which can clog the carburetor and other small openings. While draining your gas tank may seem like a time-consuming task, it’s actually very simple and can save you a lot of time and maintenance costs down the road.

At the end of each mowing season, start by filling your fuel tank with just enough gas to run your engine for one last mow, trim, or tilling task. Once you’ve finished perfecting your lawn, let the engine run until it stalls out and there is no longer any gas in the tank. Next, try to start the engine again to rid of any fuel that may not have escaped during the previous run (Note: For two-cycle engines, always make sure you’ve mixed the correct ratio of oil and gas before performing this step).

If you have trouble completely draining your tank or prefer to keep your small engine equipment stocked with gas, you can choose to use a fuel stabilizer. After following the previous steps to drain as much fuel as possible, refer to the instructions on your package of stabilizer and add the correct amount, followed by a full tank of fresh, high-octane gas. Run your mower (or other small engine equipment) for a few minutes to circulate the mixture throughout the carburetor, then turn the machine off. This process allows you to store a gas-filled tank for up to six months, and should let you easily start your mower after pulling it out of storage in the spring.

Spark Plugs
Spark plugs should ideally be replaced after 40 hours of use, so the end of summer is a great time to perform a routine inspection. Using a crescent wrench or pair of vise grips, carefully turn the metal base so as not to break the plug. Once you remove the spark plug, put a few drops of oil into the open cylinder, then gently start the engine a few times to coat the cylinder walls and valves (this will help to prevent rust from forming). Taking note of the part number on the existing spark plug, replace the used plug with a new one that has the same part number (spark plugs vary greatly among different machines).

Oil & Filters

Changing the oil and oil filters keeps moving parts lubricated and removes particles from the engine, increasing its lifespan. Cleaning or replacing air filters will also help keep grass and other foreign elements out of the engine, increasing power and fuel efficiency. While paper filters should be replaced after use, foam filters can easily be washed with hot water and dish detergent, squeezed and laid out to dry, then coated in oil before they are re-inserted.

Cleaning
All those months of outdoor use almost ensure that you’ll end up with a little dirt at the end of the season! Lawn mowers are especially-guilty culprits, considering the large amounts of grass that tend to clump up underneath the mowing deck and inside the bag. To get rid of stubborn grass, start the mower engine, engage the blade, then spray water in front of the rear wheels (make sure you’re standing behind the mower so you stay clean and dry). When you see nothing but clear water come out from under the mower, the deck should be clean (Note: make sure the mower is completely dry before storing, and never spray water directly into the engine).

Double-Check

Now’s the time to give your small engine equipment one last inspection before stowing it away for the winter. Remember: no detail is too small when it comes to the care of your outdoor power equipment. Sharpen or replace dull mower blades, clean battery terminals, tighten screws, and check for worn belts, tires, and wheels. If you have a string trimmer, be sure to clean and rewind the string head, as well as sharpen the string-cutting blade on the debris deflector. Sharpen your chainsaws, as well, and be sure to have extra chain on hand for those cold, winter work days when hidden obstacles may cause damage to your saw (Note: As a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to have spare parts on hand for those that are most often in need of replacement).

Storage
Be sure to store your small engine equipment somewhere clean and dry—ideally, a garage or shed that offers protection from rain, snow, and other winter elements. For additional protection, consider covering your mower with a tarp to block out possible moisture. Moth balls also help protect against pests that could nest inside the engine, while removing the battery and storing it in a warm, indoor location could help extend performance life.

Summary
By taking care of cleaning and maintenance tasks at the end of the summer season, you can build a regular routine that will help you greatly extend the life of your small engine equipment. From fuel to filters, blades to belts—your small engine equipment will thank you for the effort you put in, saving you a substantial amount of work in the spring.

 

Small Engine Equipment Illustrated Parts Diagrams

Small Engine Equipment Illustrated Parts Diagrams

 

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Evolution of the American Cookout

Cookout, barbecue, picnic, potluck—whatever term you use, there’s no denying that Americans love their outdoor summer parties. Today, the tradition of cooking and spending time outdoors has expanded to include games, music, fireworks, and themed decor. While some people throw a last-minute steak on the grill, others spend weeks planning menus, shopping for premium outdoor kitchen units, and transforming their lawns into elaborate alcoves for the ultimate party experience. Despite all of these differences, however, a common theme of socialization unites us all. So, fire up your grill and get the mower ready—company’s coming over, and it’s time to have some fun.

Traditional barbecuing can be traced back to indigenous Caribbean populations, where wooden frames were used to slowly smoke meat over fire pits. Spanish settlers referred to this method of cooking as “barbacoa,” which later translated to the English term, “barbecue.” Gradually, barbecuing made its way north as more Europeans migrated to America, adopting the method to transform unsavory cuts of pork and beef into palatable options. Naturally, as popularity of barbecuing grew, the outdoor cooking atmosphere changed greatly. Because of the slow nature of smoking meat, settlers in the 1700’s started arriving early to pig roasts, taking interest in pit construction and enjoying the company of fellow townspeople. Soon, barbecue events became synonymous with communal hangouts, and by the 1800’s, were popular settings for political rallies, church gatherings, and private parties. Farmers in the late 1800’s also started weekend barbecue services to cash in on the trend, traveling from place to place or setting up tents to attract hungry customers. Eventually, these tents were replaced by permanent structures, and the first barbecue restaurants were born.

By the early 20th century, outdoor cooking became an American staple. With the invention of the charcoal briquette, people opted for open-faced grills over traditional smokers, and a growing immigrant population led to a shift in grilling meat options (namely, German-inspired hamburgers and hot dogs). In addition, the movement of families from cities to the suburbs after World War II created new opportunities for manufacturers and advertisers, who pushed backyard barbecues as an ideal way of life. A pastime in the making, cookouts quickly redefined the American definition of summertime and with it, our expectations and memories of the season.

 

Evolution of the American Cookout and lawn preparation tips



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