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Forum topic by JarodMorris posted 09-10-2012 04:53 PM 710 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JarodMorris

165 posts in 1094 days


09-10-2012 04:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have a Poulan trimmer that I bought new this spring and I’ve used a handful of times. Now when I start it up and get it to warm up, the thing runs rough and doesn’t seem to ever hit the max power. It puffs blue smoke (which I understand there is oil in the gas) but it seems to be running rich. I’m not sure how to get it back to it’s max power that it had when I bought the thing. Where should I start to diagnose the issues it is having?

I realize this is a woodworking forum but people hear have a knack for knowing stuff about stuff lol and I figure there are people here that can help. Thanks for any responses or links to answers.

Jarod

-- Dad: Someone was supposed to pick up his toys! Son: My name isn't "Someone".


15 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1281 posts in 1716 days


#1 posted 09-10-2012 06:37 PM

Change the fuel. Make sure you have right mix.
Check the air filter.
Check that the choke is opening.
check that the plug is not fouled.
Check that the spark plug wire is making a clean connection.

Beyond that, you are into the range of specialized knowledge that I don’t have. Adjusting fuel ratios and such. Thankfully, there really are not that many parts to one of those things so if it is running, getting it to run better has a pretty limited set of solutions.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11328 posts in 1725 days


#2 posted 09-10-2012 07:52 PM

Also run better than 87 octane fuel .. i try and run 93 in my engine stuff, all the ethanol (i think) in todays gasoline isnt that good for carburators.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

603 posts in 917 days


#3 posted 09-10-2012 08:38 PM

87 octane gas is fine and ethanol doesn’t hurt carbs.. but it does increase water absorption, so you should ensure you have fresh gas. Old gas will certainly cause the symptoms you describe. Everything David said should be checked as well.. particularly the air filter and spark plug. A clogged air filter will cause it to run rich and smoke, but it usually manifests itself as making the thing very hard to start when cold. Generally, those are all that is required.. very seldom do you need to mess with the mix screws and the choke should just be a manual throat plate.

I have a gas weed whacker that I purchased in the 80’s that still runs like a champ.. all that I have had to do to it was change the fuel lines once, something that should be done every 10 years or so (I went well past 10 years before changing). I also have a Poulan chain saw purchased around the same time.. same deal, works flawlessly and has since I purchased it; and even though I sharpen my own chains down to the nubs, I’ve gone through several dozen which gives you an idea of how much abuse it’s seen.

If things check out with the fuel, filters and plug.. you may have a gummed up carb. Try running some sea-foam through it to clean it out. After you get it running well, make sure that you always run it dry before putting it up for any length of time to prevent any gum buildup.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View Enoelf's profile

Enoelf

192 posts in 982 days


#4 posted 09-10-2012 09:02 PM

MrUnix and David are quite correct. Your symptoms lean more towards an issue with the air filter or choke, but can certainly be caused by bad fuel. Try removing the air filter and starting it up. If it doesn’t smoke and seem bogged down, then I would look to the choke. Seems like your fuel “should” be alright since you were running this motor on it before.
The plug being fouled wouldn’t burn the available fuel as efficiently and also cause similar symptoms. I usually keep one or two extra plugs for all of my equipment around, just in case.
One other recommendation I will give you is the use of the fuel treatment Stabil. Add that to every gallon of gas you mix, or add to your small engine equipment. It works. I have been using it for more than 20 years.

Good luck!

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View americanwoodworker's profile

americanwoodworker

184 posts in 1092 days


#5 posted 09-10-2012 09:39 PM

Alot of people never look at the muffler. That can cause you power problems. I know its pretty early to have a plugged muffler but with poulan you never know. Try removing the muffler and running it if the other suggestions don’t work. It will be loud. If the symptoms go away just buy a new muffler.

Another suggestion is to scrap that poulan. That brand is horrible!. In my opinion. In one summer I went through 2 of them and the second one died the next year. I had to replace all the internal fuel lines because they melted. After that the carb gasket went bad, I threw it away and bought a 4 stroke cub cadet and have owned it for three years. It still starts on the 3rd pull as the manual states. I love it.

Always drain your gas and run the engine till it dies for winter storage.

-- Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

View JarodMorris's profile

JarodMorris

165 posts in 1094 days


#6 posted 09-11-2012 12:15 AM

Thank you for all of the replies. Scrap the Poulan? Really, would you throw $80 away just because someone said the brand you bought less than 6 months ago is horrible? Thanks anyway but I like my money more than that and just because you had a bad experience doesn’t mean the entire brand is bad. Sorry, you hit a nerve with me. I can’t stand brand snobs.

-- Dad: Someone was supposed to pick up his toys! Son: My name isn't "Someone".

View americanwoodworker's profile

americanwoodworker

184 posts in 1092 days


#7 posted 09-11-2012 04:16 AM

Keep it if you wish. Then buy a new one every year. Makes no difference to me. Just trying to save you money in the long run. I buy whatever brand offers the best bang for the buck. I have a certain criteria when purchasing items. How much, how well built is it, and does it last? I purchased the poulan because a friend told me it was great. He is on his second one. I still have my cub cadet. Mine cost $170, his cost him $130. He spent $260 on weed eaters and I spent $170.

I will get on my Craftsman lawnmower, trim with my cub cadet weed eater, and cut wood with my stihl chainsaw. I will only purchase a lawnmower, weed eater and chainsaw every ten years while you continually buy one every couple. My upfront cost for each will be cheaper in the long run while you spend $80.00 every summer and have to fight the damn thing every time you want to use it. Meanwhile I will go out, pull the cord three times, get the job done and spend more time in the wood shop.

I buy guns because they shoot straight, not cost less. I buy table saws because they cut straight, not cost less. I buy chisels that stay sharp, not cost less. I buy weed eaters because they start and run perfectly everytime, not because they costs less. I buy things that work when I need it to because my time is more valuable than money.

Sorry, you hit a nerve with me. I can’t stand the poor mans way of thinking.

Sincerely, brand snob.

By the way I also tried a poulan chainsaw because I thought I wasn’t going to cut much wood. Turns out the thing cut wood for two winters and it quit on me . I had to replace the bar once and the worm gear that operates the oiler. I have had my stihl for 5 years with out one single issue. Yeah, Poulan sucks. I would rather make myself rich than poulan. Or go with the upper model and buy Husky. Yes husqvarna owns poulan. My money is more important to me than that. GOOD LUCK!

-- Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

603 posts in 917 days


#8 posted 09-11-2012 05:18 AM

By the way I also tried a poulan chainsaw because I thought I wasn’t going to cut much wood. Turns out the thing cut wood for two winters and it quit on me and I had to replace the bar once. I have had my stihl for 5 years with out one single issue. Yeah, Poulan sucks.

You obviously missed my post above where I relate the exact opposite of your experience? My Poulan chainsaw is going on 22 years old now and all I have had to do to the thing was replace the consumables (air filter, chains, fuel lines). Dozens of blades and I can’t count how many hundreds of hours cutting through mostly oak. I paid $99 for it at a Home Depot in Iowa. By your logic, I should have gone through 10 or 11 of them by now.

Wanna touch on some of your other choices? My neighbor bought a Stihl chainsaw because the local ‘expert’ recommended it claiming it was the best. It has spent most of it’s time in the shop and he is constantly calling me over to help cut up some trees because his is on the fritz. He has spent more in repair costs than he paid for the saw itself and it still doesn’t cut or run right.. if it’s running at all.

How about my mother in law who purchased her Craftsman rider complete with the extended service warranty. In the 6+ years she has had it, they have had to call someone out over a dozen times to fix various things, including replacing the motor at one point. The last episode was a thrown rod so now it’s junk and the extended service has expired. She paid over $1500 for that mower and got almost 7 years out of it. She was fortunate enough to have purchased the extended service agreement as it could have been even worse.

My brother in law has a Cub Cadet rider also.. the deck started rusting out after 2 years, the gear box took a crap after 4 and now it just sits in the back yard and is used by the kids to play on, pretending it’s a real running vehicle.

Based on these examples, would I say that Craftsman riders are junk, Stihl chainsaws are crap or Cub Cadet is a POS? No, because everyone has different experiences and circumstances. I agree with Jarod thinking it would be stupid to throw away a perfectly good 6 month old machine just because of one persons negative experience. In fact, I would be willing to bet that if I had that weed whacker in front of me, I could not only get it running like new fairly easily, but could keep it doing so for longer than 10 years.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1769 days


#9 posted 09-11-2012 07:02 AM

Check and REMOVE the spark arrester; a screen over the exhaust of the engine. It’s required by the USFS and they know how to keep it clean. The average homeowner doesn’t know it’s there until it plugs up and stalls the engine. Rip it out, throw it away, clean the plug and reinstall (plug) and let ‘er rip.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

766 posts in 891 days


#10 posted 09-11-2012 12:27 PM

Clean or replace the air filter first. Some place on the carburetor is a mixture adjustment screw. This is usually fairly easy to get to and may have gotten bumped accidentally. To adjust it start the engine run it at full throttle and screw the screw in or out. You should hear the engine rpm’s increase and then decrease, adjust it until you get full power. There is a possibility the muffler or spark arrester is plugge but that usually take a lot more running.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View americanwoodworker's profile

americanwoodworker

184 posts in 1092 days


#11 posted 09-11-2012 01:28 PM

My Poulan chainsaw is going on 22 years old now and all I have had to do to the thing was replace the consumables (air filter, chains, fuel lines). Dozens of blades and I can’t count how many hundreds of hours cutting through mostly oak. I paid $99 for it at a Home Depot in Iowa. By your logic, I should have gone through 10 or 11 of them by now.

I cut ALL osage orange which is much much harder than oak with my stihl. 22 years ago is alot different then today. I gave away a small homelite chainsaw not to long ago that still ran and is very old. I can still buy black and white t.v.’s from 30 years ago that still run and I can purchase televisions today that run 5 years and then are trash. By my logic I would not spend a ton of money trying to fix something that lasted a handful of times.

I was merely trying to help a guy out and give him suggestions. Then I was called a brand snob. Sorry, cub cadet is no super name brand. It is a home depot brand much like poulan is a wal-mart brand. Stihl on the other hand is a higher end brand. I know they are not really wal-mart or home depot brands I am giving an example. You would not catch me dead owning craftsman power tools. I hate them. Yet I bought a riding lawnmower. I don’t own powermatic tools, I own grizzly. Why? Because grizzly had the best bang for the buck. I was not paying for a brand. If I were I would buy powermatic.

So, as YOU can see I don’t care which brand it is as long as it is quality. If Craftsman has crappy power tools I will not buy them. But if they have good hand tools…I will. Brand makes no difference to me. If I were a brand snob I would have merely said Junk the thing and go buy a cub cadet. But no, I offered another suggestion on how to fix what he has.

So based on what I said I was merely trying to help a guy out on fixing his problems. Not being snobbish and telling him to go buy the big brands. But hey, This one could run for him 22 years, I don’t know. Not my time or money on the line. The reason I even suggested a cub cadet is because of the 4 stroke option. Which is awsome. Woops, guess I am a 4 stroke snob now.

-- Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3529 posts in 2679 days


#12 posted 09-11-2012 02:45 PM

Fussy nailed a problem I just had with my Stihl trimmer. The danged spark arrester was completely stopped up. Didn’t even know there was one on the machine. Took it to the Stihl dealer (great guys) and they jerked out the piece of screen. Handed it back to me. Runnin’ like a top.
Boy did I feel dumb ‘cause I’m a pretty fair wrench twister.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View JarodMorris's profile

JarodMorris

165 posts in 1094 days


#13 posted 09-11-2012 03:11 PM

americanwoodworker,

You didn’t tell me “buy a big brand” but you did say ”Another suggestion is to scrap that poulan. That brand is horrible!. ” Not sure why you would say this if you weren’t meaning to say scrap the Poulan and buy a better brand.

I appreciate your help and suggestions. I don’t appreciate being talked down to regarding my purchase of a trimmer based upon the brand I bought when I’m asking for help to get it running better. You say that you purchase items based upon bang for the buck. Did you ever think that I did the same thing, based upon the number of bucks I had? The trimmers you’re talking about are likely $150 or more. I spent half of that. Right now, I have more time than money so doing some fiddling with it to get it to run better is not a problem. Spending money I don’t have is not an option. Choosing to not spend money that I don’t have may be a poor man’s way of thinking, but that’s a smart, responsible poor man.

jarod

-- Dad: Someone was supposed to pick up his toys! Son: My name isn't "Someone".

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

603 posts in 917 days


#14 posted 09-11-2012 11:43 PM

I cut ALL osage orange which is much much harder than oak with my stihl.

I believe you will find that live oak is as hard or perhaps a bit harder than osage. Although that is really irrelevant to the discussion; a harder wood will just dull the blade faster unless you are incorrectly using the saw and forcing the cut. The point is that more money does not always mean better quality. In the world of small two stroke engines, they are for the most part all the same.. the peripherally bits on lower priced units may use some lower cost alternatives, such as substituting sleeve bearings for ball bearings or use delrin or nylon instead of bronze bushings, but with proper use and care, they can and frequently do last just as long as their higher priced counterparts. And in many cases, the machines are exactly identical except for the stickers that are slapped on them.. where in the case of the more expensive one, you are simply paying for the brand name.

As a perfect example, a particular Craftsman compressor could be purchased at Sears for $699, while a DevilBiss that looks exactly the same except for the stickers and color sold for $849. The reason the Craftsman looks identical is because it is identical.. made by DevilBiss and given the Craftsman brand. It is cheaper because Sears buys them in bulk and gets a substantial price break by doing so. I know this because I have one of those Craftsman compressors in my garage and did the research.

Sears doesn’t make most of what they sell, they source them. Your Craftsman riding mower wasn’t built by sears.. they re-brand other companies such as MTD (who owns Cub Cadet), Husqvarna, Murray, Snapper and Simplicity. So when you say something like: You would not catch me dead owning craftsman power tools. I hate them. Yet I bought a riding lawnmower., it really makes no sense given that Craftsman didn’t actually make any of them.

So, as YOU can see I don’t care which brand it is as long as it is quality.

That statement contradicts much of what you have said previously.. Don’t want to get into a pissing match, but much of your ‘brand’ statements are simply over-generalizations which are not borne out by fact.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View americanwoodworker's profile

americanwoodworker

184 posts in 1092 days


#15 posted 09-12-2012 03:26 AM

Whatever. Done wasting my time, good luck.

-- Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

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