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Dutch

Fin cleaning

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Dutch
Those of us who are mechanically inclined know how very important it is to keep the fins of air-cooled engines free of debris. Overheating can harm wiring and electrical components, destroy piston rings, loosen valve seats, and worse. I clean the fins of my engines after every use, and confirm they are still clean before the next use. To help with fin cleaning, I have a set of tubes that permit me to blow compressed air deep between the fins. Occasionally, wasps or bees build cement like nests which requires the engine to be removed from the tractor to remove the shrouding. Such nests seem to appear in only a few days between uses. For tractors that are unused for extended periods, even mice can build nests that cannot be blown clear. What do you other guys do? I’m sure some of the less experienced readers would like to learn.

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BLT
After burning up one piston a couple of years ago, it made a believer of me. I'm not quite as dilligent as you but make sure to get it a couple times a season. It seems that on the heavy frames, B's, Sov's, ect., there is a natural tendecy, when mowing, for the engine fan to pick up dust and debris. The tractor seems to be dirtiest always in the middle.

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andy gartner
Dutch, Motorcyclists of air-cooled engines, which constitute about 70% of all bike engines out there, regularly clean their bike's engines. Unbeknownst to them, (as most do it for personal reasons, ego, escape, or whatever), they are really doing themselves a favor. So, you are correct on all counts. Our tractor manuals state: debris and built-up grease... remove also. Luckily for most, engine don't have to be removed, for shroud removal, to clean fins. What type of set-up do you have? Do you think, in the inverse, this could be made into some type of testerone driven, ego-based, 'Tractor Ritual' or 'Tractor Lore' to inadvertently encourage fin cleaning? Like the manual could state..."when driving your old lawn tractor into town, remember fellas, clean fins get the chicks."

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tractormike
I always check my tractors before starting them the first time each year for mice nests and such in the cooling fins. After that I blow out the engine probably every fourth time I use it. On my tractors that get stored outside I check each time I go to use it. Those mice are really buzy and can build quite a nest in a day or so. We had a black lab that was very good at finding mice and if the dog was around when you were getting a tractor out she would go nuts trying to get at the mice if there were any in the tractor. Those mud wasp nest are tough to get out, they are just like cement and take a lot of work to get them cleared out. I haven't found any easy way other than to chip and poke them out with a screwdriver.

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MikeG
I was getting ready to pull an 8hp Briggs motor from an old parts tractor to get ready to rebuild it when I found a mouse nest in the fins and under the shroud. Its unbelieveable how much stuff they can cram into a small area. Just blowing with a compressor would never dislodge all that crap, but you would never even suspect it was there by looking, only after your engine overheated. Good tip Dutch, maybe someone will save an engine by following your advice. MikeG

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thedaddycat
We have two cats that are both "hunters", and they keep the critters at bay. One of them even managed to catch a hummingbird the other day, then ate it whole when I tried to get it away from her...... As far as blowing out the engines, I don't have a compressor(besides the tiny 12VDC one I use to fill tires with) so I just check them out if they've been sitting a while. If I see a bunch of dust or stuff when I first start it, I'll pull the shroud to clean it.

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EDS
On some machines, I can remove just the air filter and look under the blower housing. I am also alert for grass exiting the cooling fins on walk behind mowers as a clue. Ed Stoller

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