The Generator

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that when I first moved into this house, one of the first things I purchased was a generator.  And since I bought the thing, I’ve never had to use it.  Never.  The only time it was ever used was when the former homeowner, who is an electrician, offered to wire up a house feed, so I could power my whole house with the generator.  Actually, it would only power some of the house, but, I could turn circuit breakers on and off to direct the power where it was needed.

Anyway, the point is that I’ve only run the damn thing once.  And after that one time, I never drained out the gas.  And I have experience as to what that will do to an engine.  But we’re not talking about leaving gas sit for months or a year, we’re talking 12 years.  So, as hurricane Irma approached, I pulled out the generator and it failed to start, as expected.  I had a couple of days to fix this situation.  The fix would be similar to what was done to my motorcycle – remove and clean the carburetor.

I started by taking the gas tank off the top and doing a general cleaning of the unit.  Considering its disuse for 12 years, the generator was in good shape.  I sprayed seafoam and carb cleaner into the throttle body.  I somehow expected that would fix the issue.  The generator did not start after a bunch of tugs.  I rolled the sad unit back inside and let it go.

The next time, I actually disassembled the carb from the engine.  I sprayed more carb cleaner all over it.  But the one thing I couldn’t do is get the bowl off, which Youtube taught me is something that needs to be done.  The screws were seized and would not move at all.  I put the carb, twice cleaned, back on and tried to start it.  Many yanks later, it still has not made an improvement.  Back inside the pathetic unit went.

I gave a lot of thought of how to get those screws off.  I was beginning to strip the heads, so my options were becoming limited.  My next thought was to clamp the screw bit against the body so when I turned the driver, the bit would not come out from the head grooves.  So, on another day, I did just that – took the carb off, got a clamp and secured the bit to the head, then using a wrench, I turned the bit.  The end result was the clamp slipping and more head stripping.

In desperation, I grabbed a pair of vice-grip pliers and clamped them onto the screw head.  A careful turn and the bolt freed itself with a small “crack”.  With what was left of the head grooves, I was able to remove the screws and expose the carb bowl.  At last.  The liquid in the bowl was outrageous.  It was a dark brown, oily substance that resembled nothing like gasoline.

I went to work with the carb cleaner and got everything shiny clean.  Now to reassemble it.  And that’s where it all kind of fell apart.  The gasket, a complex-as-fuck o-ring that rested in grooves in the carb, didn’t fit in the grooves in the carb anymore.  I must’ve stretched the rubber when I pulled it apart.  And as far as know, there isn’t a way to unstretch the rubber.  After an extended attempt to fit it all back together, I decided I would just buy a new gasket.

The problem is, finding that gasket is no easy task.  I determined the engine was a Briggs and Stratton, which got me lots of replacement parts – way too many.  Then I found the part number of the carburetor and searched for that.  That’s when I found out a replacement carb was only $20 – shipped.  Why was I even bothering to try and clean this thing?  I mean, it’s not like a $300 used carb for my motorcycle.  In the end, it’s still the same fix I did with my motorcycle.

The part is ordered and I’ll be able to install it next week.  I could have done that right from the start if I’d known it was that cheap.  What a waste of time.