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42 days later...I finally bagged my first leaves.

The Bagger Saga: A savage journey into the heart of my small but growing small engine knowledge-base.

23 September 2011: Acquire a 28083s with bagging system for $50. Fuel cost roundtrip was $30. Pretty poor shape, lot of rust, bad tires, almost non-existent axle boots. Bagger has some cracking, Deck has been welded several times, bag has been zip-tied together in places, etc. Have been checking state-wide CL frequently since March, hadn't found a bagger for under $75, felt like this was a good deal.

24 September 2011: Install bagger on 28085S, eagerly begin bagging. Complete 1 pass, piston rings let go on the 12.5HP Briggs. Low-crawl my way through the smoke cloud, roll the whole apparatus back where it belongs, go find a beer. Sob uncontrollably.

Continued...

-Calhoun

Pics are from a later date, couldn't find any initial pictures of the 28083s this morning
 

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1-7 Oct 2011: Begin attempting engine swap (operative word: attempting). Rust bucket came with a 10hp Tecumseh. I knew it ran and hoped it could get me through the fall while I could investigate the Briggs. Get engine loose, decide to change oil before I re-install. Bolt it back down, realize oil dran plug is badly stripped/marred/corroded. Spend next 5-6 afternoons attempting to remove: PB Plaster, vise grips, filing edges back square, open end wrench with cheater bar, give up try again next day. Finally saw the plug off flush and begin drilling it out. Neglect to center punch, drill bit walks, hole get off center. Drill up to 3/8", slightly off center.
Note to self: Buy center punch; well, set of punchs for that matter.

8 Oct 2011: Purchase 7/16" & 1/2" drill bits at flea market for $1 each to continue drilling. Felt sharp, looked good, wouldn't bite worth a heck. Have an epiphany: I bought an extractor bit set from Harbor Freight a few months back. Dig it out, use it, works like a charm.

Note to self: Inventory/store tools better. (This gets solved somewhat by future workshop build)

Didn't get any pictures of this stage. In fact, I'm pretty sure I hadn't even found the camera yet (Wife had it).

Continued...

-Calhoun
 

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9-16 Oct 2011: Mount 10hp Tech on the Series 5, goes pretty smoothly. Realize I broke an exhaust manifold muffler bolt during initial removal. Drill, (still didn't have center punch) attempt to extract, luck runs out, break extractor bit off. Bolt muffler on with one bolt (new one, grade seven with anti-seize). Runs, but poorly. Doesn’t seem excessively loud with 1 bolt on muffler.

Note to self: Pay closer attention on disassembly; Don't over-torque extractor bits.

Continued...

-Calhoun
 

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17 Oct-3 Nov 2011: Snapper projects get put on hold to convert my tool storage area into a usuable work shop before daylight savings time takes effect. Will save the 3 page synopsis for another thread/forum.

First 2 pics are before, Last 2 are after. Originally a well/pump house, the interior dimensions are 4'x6' and the roof was 6' at the ridge.

I inserted stud walls underneath the roof to raise it 16", giving me plenty of head room (I'm 5'8") and additional storage in the walls.

It is more organized than the last picture now, but I am still working out how/what to put in there and what to store elsewhere.

Continued...

-Calhoun
 

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Well seems like you are keeping focused on making it work one way or another!
 

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4 Nov 2011: Resume work on Snapper. Engine mounted, only runs on choke, and not very well at that. Clean carburetor, paying close attention to idle air screw and passages. Runs much better upon reassembly; will run at idle. Decide to add 1 oz Seafoam to fuel. At the time, there was a hair less than a gallon in the tank, fuel was 4 weeks old and had stabilizer added. Engine runs the same, no crazy smoking as I was expecting.

Take a 4 hour break.

Engine will not stay running, and is blowing white/gray smoke when it does fire. Remove carburetor to clean, subsequently lose throttle linkage while carrying into the shop. Begin search for linkage (its dark by this point). Maglite, outdoor work light, small magnet, one hour on hands & knees. Only about a 100ft^2 area it can/should be in. Linkage is nominated for City of West Columbia, SC Hide & Seek Champion.

5 Nov 2011: Visit local OPE supplier, Flea Market, and various area yard sales. Supplier is now closed on Saturdays for off-season. Flea Market Vendor that I have bought the majority of my parts from does not have a linkage on hand. (Did call both of these the evening before as soon as I realized I would need one, no such luck in finding them still open for business).

Spend rest of the day visiting family out of town. Sneak off to their local parts places (Aiken, SC) but they either don’t have it or aren’t open.
Return home approx 11:30pm, spend another hour searching again. Linkage has been awarded Lexington County, SC Hide & Seek Champion. Go to sleep thouroughly discouraged at 2:30am (1:30am I guess, DST?)

Continued...

-Calhoun
 

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6 Nov 2011: Borrow a Roofer’s rolling magnet, drag it around the yard for 45 minutes. Linkage is upgraded to Statewide Hide & Seek Champion. As a last ditch effort before ordering a new one, decide to lift & handy carry the magnet over the several exposed roots in the area I hadn’t been able to roll over.

By this point, I have become immune to that distinctive clinking sound of an old rusty nail gluing itself to the magnet. With every clink, I have died a little more inside. Flip the magnet over to inspect, and there is my missing linkage. I imagine it flipping me the bird, but I still welcome it home like the prodigal son.

Drain and rinse fuel tank, run out and purchase ethanol free 87 octane. Am using the existing fuel tank from the Series 5 rider instead of the bolt-on tank that was on the back of the Tecumseh. Rinse fuel line and fuel filter and blow out with compressed air (both new in March). Also, air filter and spark plug are both new.

Giddily, I reassemble everything and pull the cord. Surprise, doesn’t run. Remove carb; this time, I attach both linkages to the roofers magnet as soon as I remove them. Clean with carb spray, small wire, and compressed air. Reassemble, still will not run.

Start making phone calls to people who know more than I do (quite of a few of these available). Guy tells me I may have fouled the plug using Seafoam. It looks good and clean, for all intensive purposes it’s a new plug with 5 minutes on it. I realize I have heard/read this before, but haven’t even considered it.

This leads me to consider the electrical/ignition side of the triangle. Check for spark using the “new” plug and the 2 older plugs I have, and realize I’m getting intermittent spark. Check all wiring between Magneto and Kill switch. Dress up all of the terminal connections and splices, but this doesn’t fix it. Don’t really know of a way to test the kill switch, but on a whim I switch it out with the weather-beaten switch on the Series 3.

Grip the starter rope firmly, it cranks on the first pull, and idles nicely removing the choke. The emotional roller coaster I’ve been on finally runs out of track…for now…until the next issue springs up.

I bought my first lawnmower in March of this year. Before that, I can’t say I had ever done anything besides change filter/plug/oil on a lawnmower (that I didn’t even own). I have discovered a wealth of knowledge on this (and other, but mainly this) forum, and outside of losing the linkage and the trouble-shooting dead-ends, I am having a blast. I definitely need to work on my objective/analytical approach to troubleshooting, but I’m starting to make progress.

Continued...

-Calhoun
 

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7 Nov 2011: Can’t make it through 1 hour of work without thinking about bagging leaves when I get home. Try a quick test cut using side discharge to ensure I have the mower deck installed correctly (outside of visual inspection). I had previously checked transmission components and been generally satisfied--though it could use slight tweaking.

Install the bagger, cut a pass through the leaf filled yard. Picks up the leaves beautifully. Not so much the acorns and pecans, but I realize there has to be some collateral damage, it can’t just be this easy! I look for a celebratory beer, but I don’t have any. I mentally degrade myself for poor planning.

I cut two passes and the single-bin bagger is full. I contrast this against the raking/bagging/tarping/dragging I have done the past 3 years. I decide the Snapper was the best thing I have every bought.

-Calhoun

Disclaimers:

1. My property is .25 acres. It does not merit a riding lawnmower. Aside from fun/cool factor, I bought a Snapper RER for leaf control. I have 3 oaks (two huge) and a large pecan. I know some folks have it a lot worse, but those trees rain down leaves and acorns like an A-10 Warthog marauding a town full of insurgents. And they're no-where close to being done.

2. My backyard is mostly weeds. The back 1/3 of it is heavily shaded, and is mostly dirt. The dogs run down/dig up whatever grass tried to grow with a vengeance. One day I will have nice grass, but it's not today or any day soon.

3. I don't purposefully try to get my dog (Calhoun) in every photo. He follows me around the yard and just seems to be photogenic.
 

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Man I love this story keep it coming as this is so fun to read.
As for the Snapper you will so be a pro on working on it.
As far as leaf collection they are the best I use my Honda HR214 for the edges and the Snapper does the rest.
My oaks rain down leafs every day during fall in fact after I am done with the back and then do the front I have to go back to the back and start all over again.
 

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You sir, have a fine talent in making people like me laugh. I'm still laughing as I write this, so excuse any typo's... Right there with you, every step of the way .

Congratulations on the "Saga" , and the completion of the bagger. Fine work.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
One other thing I worked on yesterday afternoon/evening, was how I was going to dispose of my rapidly filled bagger. This past spring I replaced the chain link fence in my backyard with 6' privacy fence. I only installed 1 gate on one side of the house (Option A on picture), but on the other side I designed one 8' fence panel to be removable (Option B on picture).

The 2"x4" crossmembers on the panel sit into hanger brackets on the 4"x4" posts, and from inside I can lift it up from the brackets, walk it forward into the front yard, and slide it out of the way. Could still use some refinement, but it works. It's also pretty darn heavy, but I figure this is a good deterrent as it can't be lifted from the ouside (fence panel side) easily at all.

The right side of my property borders on a secondary road, and I (or the City) have about 4' of land (easement?) between my fence and the pavement. My previous leaf pile was on the front yard side of the fence abutting the road. I had the leaves penned in using 36" high silt fence staked out in a roughly pentagonal shape. To keep the leaves from blowing everywhere, I usually kept the road side of the pen "fenced" off. However, this was not conducive to the Yard-Debris-collection guys being very motivated to pick it up.

My two options to empty my bagger were either A: the walkthrough gate or B: pull the 8' removable section. Either option involves driving through/into the front yard.

My solution:

I wasn't crazy about having the leaf "pen" in the front yard to begin with, esp. as it was not picked up very often. (Wife is not a fan of me having a mulching station in our small (ish) backyard).

Moved the leaf pen to the center of the fence facing the secondary road. Pen will be three sided with the open side to the road, so it's not "inconvenient" to be picked up.

I then cut the upper part of the panel off, to be re-attached later. This allows me to make my loops in the yard, drive to the right side, and empty the bagger over the now ~36" high fence into the pen (3rd pic).

Temporarily built a bottom brace for the removable half of the fence, and for right now it's screwed back into the 4"x4" posts (4th pic). I'll put on a treated 2"x4" as a permanent bottom brace, utilize hangar bracket for the section to fit in, and fabricate some sort of locking system. I don't anticipate using this except in the fall. But when I do need it, it will be nice to have!

Also, the block in the picture lining the fence is to keep the dogs from digging out....just haven't gotten around to burying it yet. Too many other fun things to do!

Glad you all enjoyed reading about it, I had a lot of fun working through all this, as well as learning quite a bit.



-Calhoun

The first 2 pics aren't very clear, but they were just to give a general idea, sorry!
 

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I loved reading your post. Your writing is brillant. Your a very good story teller Good luck with your snapper with bagger. Take care Mike 78snappercometman:trink39::trink39::thThumbsU
 
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