Monday morning, my neighbor and I planned on renting a machine to aerate our lawns. At 9 a.m. we drove over to Home Depot and they had several Classen CA-18 machines like the one pictured above in stock. The sales guy noticed the aerator we were renting was low on gas, filled the tank up with the last bit of gas they had on hand, then fired it up to show us how to start it.
When we got the aerator back to my yard it fired right up, but any time we tried to give it some more gas, it either died or sputtered badly. After about 15 minutes of letting it idle, then slowly easing off the choke and giving it more gas, it was running at full throttle but we couldn’t ease off the throttle without it dying. At this point we knew something was wrong, but we decided not to turn back.
Running at full throttle, I pulled up the wheels to engage the spikes and the aerator nearly got away from me before the motor died. I couldn’t restart the motor, so we put it back on my neighbor’s trailer to return it. As we were tying it down, I gave it one more pull, because I just knew that we’d get back to the store and it would run perfectly for the sales guy. The motor sprang to life and after another couple of minutes babying the motor up to full throttle, I tried another pass at my lawn.
I practically had to run behind the machine, but I finished one row. I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to handle my whole yard that way, so I tried easing off the throttle just a bit and this time the engine kept running. I wrenched it around for another pass, engaged the tines, and went two feet before the motor stopped. Of course the engine wouldn’t start again. Back to the Depot!
After getting our money back, we went to a different rental center, but they had a similar machine by a different manufacturer. After our experience that morning, we decided against renting it. Even if the engine was running properly and I could’ve slowed it down, I’m not sure I would have lasted my entire yard. I have a small yard, maybe an eighth of an acre, but the machine handled like a pig, and I was sweating like one after just that single pass.
In hindsight, the best explanation we could figure was that the sales person had put in some bad gas. In the store, the machine had no problems starting and easily reached full throttle in a few seconds without any sputtering because it was running on the old gas in the line.
My questions to the readers: Do you aerate your yard, and if so, what type of aerator do you use? Surely it has to be easier than trying to reign in a wild horse.
CA-18 Compact Aerator [Classen]