Disconnecting those items from the engine quickly proved it was the engine that was locked. Bummer. This little Honda may have cut her last blade.
With nothing to lose, we pulled the head and took a look. Although covered with tar-like oil, the valve train looked ok. The piston was stuck almost at TDC (Top Dead Center), so we couldn't see the cylinder walls. After applying a big dose of acetone and Automatic Transmission Fluid (the hot ticket for penetrating oil applications), and considerable muscle, the piston broke free and would turn by hand. More oil and more turns revealed no untoward noises and the cylinder walls did not show any scars.
She blew a little smoke at first but ran like a top!
Next up was the transmission, which was stuck in high gear. After removal from the mower (which requires removing everything connected to the rear wheels) it was disassembled and cleaned. Inspection showed normal wear but nothing broken, so she got a full load of gear oil and went back together with no leaks (to my complete amazement).
Back in the mower, with the control cables adjusted to spec, the trans shifted like a dream and the little Honda that almost went to the dump is back home and cutting grass like like a champ. Yes, she smokes a little on start-up...but heck...she's 30 years old. I think that's allowed.
I had a fun and productive session with WrenchMonster getting my lawn mower running again in time for Spring! Learning what to do when "it just won't start" after winter is a game changer. I now know how to best maintain the mower in the winter time and how to tune it up (myself) with new spark plugs and cleaning of the fuel system if it doesn't start up in the future. So cool!
Dave spent half the time teaching the basics of engines and tools we were using and half the time getting hands-on replacing spark plugs, doing oil change, and cleaning the carburetor, etc. After all that, the mower is in working order (yay)! Working with WrenchMonster is such a great value to not only get things fixed and working today, but learn how to do it yourself and not be dependent on a repair shop and service costs in the future.
I will definitely return to WrenchMonster with any future projects, and would highly recommend WrenchMonster to anybody who would like to learn to become more self-sufficient to fix and tinker with things - mowers, bicycles, you name it!
- Maggie in Austin
Meeting David was one of the best things that has come off Craigslist! This road angel helped me take my Frankenstein 1985 Honda Rebel and transformed it into an awesome little cruiser. We spent 3 long days tearing apart the parts that hadn't been maintained since conception of the bike, and adding new and updated components. His expertise, know-how, and wide range of tools and parts made the job go by with a lot less headaches than it could have been. Needless to say, I never would have been able to get this bike in the condition he helped put it in. Not only will I refer back to him with future projects, but I will highly recommend his WrenchMonster shop to any and all of my two wheeled aficionados.
Upon leaving his helpful hands, I felt exponentially more competent with changing my chain, tuning up the forks, adjusting the brakes, connecting and soldering wired components, and changing out fluids. He was eager to teach, patient to explain, and able to demonstrate tasks I found difficult with ease.
I am extremely grateful for WrenchMonster and hope to see this endeavor take off here in the Austin area!
To long and beautiful hill country rides! See you on the road.
~Alexis From Texas
Perhaps you have heard "It only takes a spark to get a fire going...". It turns out that it only takes a spark to kill a bike too.
In this case, the spark was the positive post of the battery hitting the frame while the bike was running. Because there is not a fuse between the voltage regulator and the battery, that meant that the regulator shorted to ground with all the current the alternator could produce at that moment (with all the available battery current thrown in just for good measure). The result? The regulator blew...but it blew shorted, not open. Therefore, unregulated alternator voltage was now going straight to the battery and every other electrical component on the bike.
You might wonder how this problem looks to the rider. Well, on a simple bike without a voltage or current meter and no electronics to speak of, there are not very many clues anything is wrong...for a while. But it looks pretty interesting in the rear view mirrors of a riding companion a half mile ahead. It looks like the headlight has become an arc welder; really bright...until it goes dark. Then the marker lights can be seen glowing like demon eyes...until they go dark too, burned out from too much voltage, just like the headlight. Fortunately, the bike died before the battery exploded.
Naturally, we didn't know at first why the bike died...but the bulbs were all burned out, and a little troubleshooting soon showed the regulator was toast. Still, the question was "Why?". When we noticed a big burned spot on the battery post and one that matched on the frame. Oops. Someone left the battery too loose in its mount the last time it was out. It shifted around enough to make contact.
Did I mention the bike died? It didn't restart either. That challenged troubleshooting.
To make a long story short, we got very lucky. A local bike shop, normally closed on a Saturday, answered our call and DELIVERED a working (used) regulator...for a reasonable price. (Did I mention we were 3 hours from home, in a little town that could not have been expected to have any bike parts in stock?)
With the new regulator installed, the bike started and system voltage came back to normal. Once the headlight, directional and and marker bulbs were replaced, the bike was roadworthy.
So that's it. Super bright bulbs...and then they burned out. The alternator produces charging voltage...but it keeps climbing as the engine revs climb...beyond the 13 to 15 volts that is normal for battery charging. Clearly a new regulator was needed...and then we got one and everything was groovy. WrenchMonster diagnostics...that turned the trick.
Isn't that cool?