One of the worst parts of my job is having to tell someone their equipment is shot. I know its not like I'm a doctor telling you that your days are numbered but it just kinda sucks having to tell good people that they need to spend more money especially when its not their fault. The exception would be dick heads that won't listen, argue or worse yet they lie and try to blame someone else for the mistake that ruined the equipment. I have no problem telling those fools where they went wrong.
We have a minimum labor charge for diagnosing equipment and the customer has the option of paying that charge or abandoning the piece in exchange for that bill. We try to recover our expenses by parting out the unit. Once in a while a decent piece comes along and I save those for winter projects. As a dealer we can use parts at our cost and obviously supply our own labor. Usually the best we can expect is to come out even and hope to rent the equipment out after its fixed and make a small profit.
One such piece is this hedge trimmer. It was one of our rental units that wouldn't start. I remember pressure testing it and it failed. I must have been busy at the time because I just marked the tag "crankcase leak". If I would have spent more time on it I would have discovered the leak wasn't a hard one to repair.
I removed the flywheel in preparation of pressure testing the unit again and immediately noticed something out of the ordinary.
Do you see it? At first glance this looks like a normal crank seal but look closer.
Its actually a damaged seal due to grass and debris getting wound up around the crankshaft. Enough of it got wedged under the flywheel that it started working its way against the lip of the crank seal.
That shiny spring below the seal and around the shaft should actually be hidden under the lip of the seal which is worn away. Thats a huge air leak and a two stroke engine won't run with a leak that big. A simple seal replacement fixed this trimmer and its back in service, or at least its sitting around waiting for spring just like the rest of us.
So, was it lack of proper maintenance, sloppy operating practices or poor engine design? Blowing debris out of the cooling fins is regular maintenance but removing the flywheel isn't so we can't blame it on lack of care. This trimmer sucks cooling air from the bottom so the design may be poor but I think this was used to cut flowers back in the fall. The unit was probably sucking in dead grass and debris from a bed and that debris got wrapped around the crankshaft. Maybe it was just set down in a messy area and idled for a while, all the time sucking crap into the cooling system.
I don't think anyone is to blame. Sometimes things just happen. Yes this could have been avoided by using a stick hedger rather than a hand held and a lot can be said about using the right tool for the job but sometimes you just run what ya brung to git er done. As a rental unit theres nothing that can be done to prevent this. For an individual owner there is a lesson to be learned here that can be best summed up with the old Chinese proverb, He who work in messy bed end up with dirty crank!