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Agriculture Today

Carburetors need love, too

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Jeff Deines
On the Road to Forever
August 31, 2011 | 2,915 views | Post a comment

Over the years, I’ve had plenty of calls for a carburetor rebuild to get a car or piece of equipment to work like it is supposed to. Most of the time these carbs just get dirty and need a good cleaning.

Carburetors have tiny internal orifices and restricted openings that can clog up over time and it can be difficult to properly clean them. If the carb isn’t completely clean upon reassembly, often times new replacement gaskets and plungers, or just cleaning what can be seen on the outside won’t alleviate the problem.

Depending on the level of crud in the particular carb in question, sometimes a shot of carb cleaner may do the trick, or soaking it in denatured alcohol for several hours -- but for the hard-core clean, the unit must be soaked in a carb vat. These vats are relatively simple -- a small one is made from a gallon bucket full of a chemical solution with a basket for submersing parts. Bigger vats use 5-gallon buckets and they get bigger depending on the needs of the shop.

Once the carb is removed from the engine, the carburetor is disassembled and all the non-plastic and rubber parts are placed into the basket for an overnight soak. These vats work incredibly well; some even have a system in place to circulate the chemicals for better cleaning action. When the parts are removed from the vat, they are immaculate inside and out and ready for reassembly.

Since all manufacturers of cars have gone to fuel injection since the early ’90s, there are only a small percentage of vehicles on the road today that still use a carburetor -- but almost all small engines still do. Lawn mowers, generators, pressure washers, dirt bikes, go-carts, and grass trimmers almost all use carburetors.

Some of those engines used for power equipment and recreation aren’t used for months at a time -- which exacerbates the problem. Gas has a tendency to “go bad” after a period of time, and if left in the carb can cause it to become gummed up and clogged. Add to this the complete and total epic failure that is ethanol-mixed gasoline, and you can see why most shops and a few shade tree home mechanics need a vat.

Since these ethanol gas mixes have been forced upon us a few years back, shops are seeing a highly accelerated level of carburetion issues that sometimes even the vat can’t fix -- and those carbs are having to be replaced instead of rebuilt at a substantial expense. Ethanol is such a disaster on so many levels that I can’t even begin to go there -- definitely a topic for another column.

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