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"Funny Little Men"

6/24/00

The power equipment industry is in the process of constant change. Never more then the present, and the future will bring sweeping changes. Emission laws are requiring that new engines pollute far less then the past and in time it's likely your lowly old trusty lawn mower will have fuel injection controlled by a computer. You WILL learn to forget the term, "Cheap Lawn Mower".

The industry as a whole, is trying to improve their image by demanding that full service shops employ better trained technicians and have cleaner, better stocked shops. At the same time. manufacturers who never have before, are entering and marketing to the "Big Box" outlets, retailers who don't even have a service facility. A bit of a contradiction. On one hand, a demand for better quality service, on the other, no service. Seems like someone has their head up their bass.

Some of the problem is a simple failure to communicate. And herein is the bases of this article.

A while back, a new engine was introduced. It had some features that set it apart from previous engines. Originally the engine was available to only OEM's, or equipment manufacturers who wanted the engine on their equipment. For at least the first 6 months, the engine manufacture provided no information on the engine to the service shops. This, being left for the equipment manufacturers to pass along any important servicing info. In our case, the equipment we were selling with this engine had an OEM who tripped on a cloud and fell eight miles high, and tore their minds on a jagged sky, but never dropped in to pass along any info. Well, being there were some differences, problems arose with proper running of the engine which made us look a bit of joke to the customers. About six months into the ordeal, we finally arrived at the truth of the matter, and recieved the service info from the engine manufacturer. Nice, huh? Historically, four cycle engines have spark plugs gapped at .030". In todays era of emission engines, logic would tell one, that to meet emissions, a hotter spark coil is installed and a spark plug gap increase will be used. At least this holds true for automotive engines. For some reason this engine has a cooler spark coil and it's spark plug won't fire right if it's gapped wider than .020". So much for logic. By the way, well over a year later and after repeated inquisitions, total failure in receiving a reason why still exists. hmm

All this boils down to is a lack of communication. The funny little men in their funny white coats, wearing funny horned rimmed glasses and pocket protectors, scurrying around behind closed white doors at the engine R&D facility failed to pass along some vital info.

What got real funny was about 2 months after receiving that ill timed info release, some hot shot direct from the factory stopped by the shop, making a good will tour and had the nerve to ask if we'd had any problems. Yes sir I can not tell a lie, we certainly have. He proceeded to say that if we were to bump up the rpm setting an improvement to the running would be forthcoming. I asked if that was the official factory fix, to set the rpm higher then government safety standards, and how was that going to correct not only the full throttle running but the poor idle conditions. He proceeded to explain that at least operational conditions would improve. yeah, sure!

I proceeded to explain that although at least six months late, that two months prior, we finally receive the product info sheet that explained the need for a different spark plug gap, and that the correct setting took care of the problem. He just stood there with this reeellly dumb look on his face. Can you imagine the shear pleasure that brought to my innards? heheh
I still haven't figured what deep dark hole the guy had crawled out from as he obviously was woefully out of touch. "I pushed my soul, in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in. I watched myself crawling out, as I was crawling in".

I haven't mentioned manufacturers here because it's not an isolated incident. Yes, it goes to the extreme but it's the sort of thing that happens all to often with just about every manufacturer. The manufacturers probably don't give a squat about my little page and probably won't ever read this, but if any of you should, I guess I've got one thing to say to sum it all up.
Get your funny little men in their clean white coats to talk to your funny little men in their clean white shoes, and once in a while let us lowly, grungy from repairing your broken engines and equipment, grease under the finger nail mechanics, know what the hell you were thinking. huh?
LMRM;Bob :<=

P.S.

Adding insult to injury
These same engine and equipment manufacturers have one of those knuckleheaded "Exclusive" deals where the engine in question, is a variation of a base model. The variations are not found in any other version of this base engine. It has items such as engine cover, air and oil filters and other items only found on this brand of mower.

Even though the engine manufacturer makes these aboriginal parts, they are only available from the equipment manufacturer. For several months, in adding insult to injury and not providing repair shops with the specs, parts such as air filters and oil filters were almost impossible to obtain. We'd order from the equipment manufacturer who said we were to order from the engine manufacturer. They in turn would pass the buck and say we had to order from the equipment manufacturer. Neither would take responsibility.

Meanwhile, with dozens of mowers in the field and primarily in use by commercial lawn cutters who go through filters fairly quickly, the shop I work for as I'm sure many others were placed in the position of dealing with very unhappy customers. Doesn't leave one with a very favorable or comfortable feeling about a couple of the largest manufacturers in the business.

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