Weird Snow-thrower engine problem.

propane_derekDecember 12, 2011

Went out to repair a customer's snow-thrower and found something I've never seen before.

Briggs 8hp engine, customer says he had it running last week, parked it, and now it won't start, and won't crank every time -- i.e. pull start jerks out of your hand, electric start locks up.

I check the oil for starters and find thick, latex-paint consistency, white fluid in the crankcase. It's at least 2x the amount of liquid that's supposed to be in there.

He had a slight problem last year which I fixed - carb was flooding and there was excess gas in the oil, but I

replaced it with a new carb and he used the thrower at least once.

It looks nothing like condensation or gas/oil mix -- this stuff actually is so thick I had to open one of the oil fill plugs on the bottom side and turn the thing sideways to pour it out -- it wouldn't flow out through the rear drain plug.

It had enough surface tension in 40-degree weather to "drizzle" almost like latex paint does when it's poured.

I took a picture -- Will try to figure out how to upload it. I have no idea what it is.

Neighbor/kid playing a joke? I've never seen any condensation like this -- crap was so thick, you felt resistance when pushing the dipstick back in, almost like you were pressing it into pudding.

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reguardless how it got in there. Drain, flush, refill should get the oil level back to normal. Only run time will tell if the problem comes back. Usually kick back is something in the comb. chamber stopping the piston. I would of removed the spark plug and pulled the rope see if anything came out?? then I would of sprayed carb. cleaner down the spark plug hole to wash out the comb. chamber after pulling the rope several times.

I had old rotor tiller engine that would create lot of condensation from blow-by which would turn the oil milky color and make oil over time. IMO the enviorment that snow blowers operate in will cause condensation and will have to have the oil changed more often IMO.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Did clear the chamber, removed plug, pulled rope several times, cleaned out, etc. I think the level was so far overfilled with the sludge that it was hydrolocking it somehow.

He didn't want to spend a lot so I told him if wants to spend his time instead of mine and he cleans out the crankcase, I'll be happy to come back and fine-tune the carb and get it running, which was what he called me for in the first place. He was happy with that. I think he may have wanted a "second opinion" to sell the wife on spending for a new unit. ;)

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 1:01PM
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yep, guess it could happen on the down stroke of the crank if the crankcase of way over filled?

I suspect the oil was never changed in this snowblower and the condensation evenually filled the crankcase up????Amazing why people just don't pull the dip stick out occassionally isn't it! I feel for people that can't even check, service, or change the oil let along put gas in it. Hollymolly put the book down (not manual) and learn something!

Had to laugh the other day. Read about Person with higher edcation wanted to do more so decided to change the oil in SUV. pulled into gas station later complaining about transmission problems??????????????? yep you guest it put the engine oil in the automatic transmission fill port! Who knows what filter was changed?? Again I praise the person for the attempt, but still you need OJT'er on the first try in you have no clue to what has to be done IMO.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 2:56PM
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Here's what's wild about this -- I changed the oil for him last year. So I know personally that this oil was less than one year old! He had a slight flooding issue last year which led to gasoline in the oil, and I had put a new carburetor on it for him, which cured that.

He said it was running last week -- so this all had to have happened in a week or so?!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 4:55PM
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People who have some form of higher education, seem in some cases, to have no smarts of how to do anything in the mechanical field, like lawn mowers and tractors, snow throwers/ blowers, and other stuff.
Yes, they can read. But not understand. Like the man who brought his push mower in-said he couldn't pull the starter rope! Said he had changed the oil, in fact said it was full. Well, Yeah---it was full alright. Right up to the top of the dip-stick tube! Never was able to make it run again--oil bound!
Or, the one who couldn't figure out metric measurements, so he could get the correct amount of oil in the engine after he drained out the dirty oil?! "Hey, dummy", what are those scratchy marks on the bottom end of the dip-stick? Could they tell you when the oil was at the correct level? Yeah, buy the kids shoes, send them to school, and they eat the books!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 3:00PM
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Digging up this old thread to post a follow-up.

The owner does know a little about engines, he worked for an auto service station for 10 years. The owner didn't want to convince his wife to buy a new one, he can't afford it. How do I know? I'm that owner :-)

Derek did try to help me out and accurately described the issue. Though I would add that the milky oil from the year before was exactly the same as what happened subsequently. Since water seems to continually getting into the oil, the primary question that needs to be answered is 'how'. It's way too much for condensation to account for. I did let it sit out under the deck for a month while trying to figure out what to do with it before calling Derek. Could rain have flowed into the oil somehow?

Thankfully, last season was a bust for snow and not having a blower was no issue. But I'm reconsidering this thing and trying to decide how to get it going again as I still can't afford $1200 for a new one.

Any thoughts?


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:53PM
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To eliminate the possibility of rainwater getting
into the oil resevoir,....get it out of the rain,
and see if your problem persists. Deck floors
have spaces between the boards, so water will
run down below. Find a better shelter for your
machine, especially if you can't afford a new one.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 2:35PM
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