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Rotovator, Strimmer and Petrol Shelf-life

Rotovator

As you might know from my diary, I’m mechanically challenged. I just didn’t inherit that engineering gene. My father had it, but not me. In fact he used to tell of how I helped him service his pride and joy Austin A40 when I was very young. As he popped in the house for something, I happily took up a screwdriver and hammer and proceeded to make holes in the radiator. Luckily I survived. Truth is he was too shocked to be cross.

Anyway, as Saturday was pretty grotty, I stayed under cover in the big shed and drained the old oil from my Merry Tiller’s engine and re-filled it. I know that doesn’t sound much and many chaps will be wondering why I bothered to diary this ‘simple’ job but the fact is I felt rather pleased with myself to have managed it.

Judging by the colour, a mucky black, and the small quantity of oil that came out as against that which went in; it was a job well overdue. The engine certainly sounds better for it and on Sunday it had a bit of a workout.

Happily I’ve not lost the knack of using it, the trick is to control the machine so it does the work. The worst mistake I used to make was to run it fast, which is good for quickly getting a tilth. When breaking up new soil slow is better, a sort of funeral march walking pace or even slower.

If it jumps or starts to run away from you, then let it and go back over the same spot from a different angle. Initially breaking up soil that hasn’t been worked for a long time is fairly hard work, you might need to go over it four or five times to break it up. The next year is easier though.

What you do need to watch out for with rotovating is creating a pan. If you rotovate to the same depth every year you can create a hard pan below. Varying the depth is one answer but when you’re as low as you can go it’s worth just breaking up the pan by forking over.

Strimmer

My petrol strimmer came back from being repaired. Whilst it is still covered by a 2 year warranty, I though it would be free but it turned out the problem wasn’t the clutch, it was bad fuel clogging up the carburettor. So a £42.00 bill <grump>

Shelf Life of Petrol

Guess what the shelf life of unleaded petrol is? A year? Six months? No, it’s 30 days. Believe me, I’ve checked this out. Even using a proper petrol can, after 30 days oxygen reacts with the components of the fuel to create gum deposits that will block up the engine.

Also, if the temperature varies a lot, condensation can occur in the storage container or tank which further pollutes the petrol with water.

You can get products like Fuel Fit from Briggs & Stratton which are stabilisers and should extend the shelf life of stored petrol but these need to be added on purchase of the fuel – adding later will not ‘cure’ stale petrol.

If you’ve an old machine like my 1976 Merry Tiller, you can sometimes get away with using stale fuel mixed 2:1 with new fuel but the more modern machines are more delicate. Even older machines can clog up with old petrol so do be aware.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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