Friday, August 29, 2008

How NOT to Start a Riding Lawn Mower!

Before cleaning, repairing, or inspecting, make certain the blade and all moving parts have stopped. Disconnect the spark plug wire and ground against the engine to prevent unintended starting. --- Part of safety instructions from lawn mower manual

It was not a major repair job, but the next thing to it. This Dynamark riding mower has been around quite a few years. I had gotten it new and eventually left my son have it for his lawn which is rather large. But things happened eventually, including starting problems and a frayed cable which engages the blades in the mowing operation.

So I found a place which specializes in parts such as what I needed and fortunately they had the parts in spite of the fact that the mower now qualifies to be labeled “antique!” Those replacement parts included a starter, a solenoid and a cable assembly for the blades.

It proved to be a bit of a drawn out procedure – the removal of shrouds covering the 18 HP twin cylinder Briggs & Stratton engine and then getting the bolts removed which held the parts in place – I won’t go into detail other than to say that I told Jean that I hadn’t experienced a nightmare nut and bolt experience like that since I worked on airplanes at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina a long, long time ago! Engineers who design things should first be made to work on those things for a few weeks before they go out the door for sale! Trust me – there would be a lot of re-designing before sale time!

Anyway, I got the starter changed. Then came the solenoid which was in a most ungodly location – that is, if you have to change it, which is what I was about to attempt. It got to be a real circus as I attempted to get a wrench on the bolt underneath and then reach into a tight space on top and try to get a wrench on the nut holding down the solenoid. After much time had passed I finally got both the nuts removed and then came the fun of installing the new solenoid. Again – time passed and eventually I saw light at the end of the tunnel. I hooked up the power from the battery and the little wire from the key on one post and then the cable to the starter on the other post. Having done this, I decided to try something which I learned a long time ago about testing starters and solenoids – take a screw driver and touch both posts of the solenoid. Some sparks and fire will fly, but if everything is in working order, the starter cog wheel will jump up, connect with the engine flywheel and start to crank it for running mode. Well, it did and verified that things were in order.

But that cable still had to be installed – another nightmare because part of the hookup was in the same area as the solenoid – a tight place in which the natural course of events results in skinned hands etc.

At one point as I tried to maneuver the piece into place with one hand from one direction, I reached inside from the other direction over top of the solenoid in order to get a nut started on the assembly. My skin was sweaty and all of a sudden sparks flew, the starter cog engaged and the flywheel on the engine started turning – I also felt some pain on the underside of my wrist! I had touched both posts of the solenoid and true to form, it was starting time for that 18 HP engine with my wrist being the conductor of power.

Here’s what happened – I ended up with a burn about ¾ of an inch long and about ½ inch wide about where my watch band is located when I am wearing my watch. I had previously removed it for this installation procedure. Later in the evening I had a water blister about the size of those dimensions I just mentioned.

What’s the point in all this? There are certain “rules” to follow in the starting of a rider lawn mower – don’t try to do it any other way, and that does include the screwdriver “method” as well as the accidental “wrist” method!

That experience, however, is one in which I will survive with a reminder that next time “go by the book” and don’t short circuit the process!

More serious is the fact that humans too often are inclined to want to “short circuit” God’s purposes. We are a people inclined to reject what God wants in light of His revelation to us – He has plainly spelled out the way of forgiveness, salvation and hope through His Son, Jesus Christ, but outside the church as well as inside the church we are hearing that there are “other” ways to come to God! Jesus Christ just happens to be one of many "options" -- sort of like wandering through a super buffet and picking out what strikes your fancy at the moment!

God has given a lot of details of His past actions as well as providing future details as to what He plans to do with this world and the people in it. But for the most part, God's future plans are rejected and the rebel human spirit declaring that we are the "masters of our fate" and will determine what will or will not be!

God has revealed the standards for acceptable morality but we are in times of “change” with humans wanting to set the standards and rejecting the boundaries that God has established by way of acceptable sexual behavior!

The end result of such shenanigans? Why there will be a burn, of course, and much larger than ½ by ¾ of an inch!

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. --- Proverbs 14:12

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