Friday, April 28, 2006

Garden news

A very big day yesterday. I finally got out the little rototiller I bought for $50 at a country auction last year, and decided to try to start work on the new garden patch.

This old "Tilly" tiller is quite small, and I had it serviced last fall by my fellow in the mobile internal combusion engine servicing van, who came by the house to take care of it as well as my new pressure washer and the lawnmower. It started easily and worked fine, but he told us that a section of it is missing - specifically, the part with the STOP mechanism! Basically, it has no throttle, but it does have a jerry-rigged wire sticking out that does the job. He explained to Dean how to turn it off with this wire (I had to leave to take Emma to karate).

So here it is, 6 months later, and I haul out the machine and say to Dean, "Do you remember what he said, about how to turn off this machine?" We managed to get it started, and I found that it works nicely. Now the challenge - how to turn it off. "I think you pull on the wire," said Dean, giving it a tug. RRRRRRRRR Hmm, that didn't work. So he pulls harder GRRRRRRRRRR!!! "Stop! Stop! You're revving it!" I'm shouting as this thing is fuming away in front of us. Well, there we stand, with the rototiller bellowing away, and no idea how to turn it off. We did the only possible thing - go open the garage gate, and start using it until it runs out of gas, which it did pretty quickly (I'd only put in a small amount of gas for the purposes of experiment).

Around noon, I figured I'd tackle it again. I'm not quite sure how to use the Choke - open/close, or just open? And how many times? Oh well... After flooding the engine a few times, then waiting for it to settle down, I succeeded in getting it going. And I figured out that gently pulling out the wire would feed more gas to the engine and get it going strongly.

It worked nice and easy on the old garden, which of course is just soft dirt; it doesn't dig too deeply, but it makes nice furrows. As this time I'd filled it up with gas, it was still running when I finished the first garden, and decided to try the big job - tearing up the grass for the new garden. I realize that this machine is really a bit too small for a job like this, but although it took many repeated passes over the same ground, it did manage to break the surface and dig down into the soil. Since the tines are small, it actually mulched and chopped up the grass - a bigger rototiller would have left it all in big clumps.

It took 2 hours (and another gas refill) but I got the whole thing done in just over an hour and a half. Then the moment of triumph - I figured out that by PUSHING on the wire, I could throttle it down until it choked off the gas supply to the engine and I turned it off!


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