I guess it's true

Back in the day, I used to hear stories about old engines that hadn’t had their oil changed in so long that the owners would not change the oil, fearing that the old oil was the only thing holding the engine together.

So I have this old (1997)Murrey riding lawn mower with a 20 HP B&S engine that I have not changed the oil in so long I can’t remember. I’m pretty sure the last oil change was before I retires in 2011, long before.

So i come across 5 qts of 10w30 royal purple that was put in an engine, run for about 15 min to flush it out and then drained. So I figured, what the heck. The old oil in the mower came out like gear oil, with lumps. While I was at it, I looked through my shed and found 4 old used oil filters for that engine, a couple didn’t look too bad so I figured that they must be better than the filter that has been on the engine for over half its life and used the best one to replace the old filter.

Engine started right up, ran smoother than it has in a long time, smoked less too, so I mowed the yard. After the mow, I checked the engine oil and it hadn’t lost as much as usual. I put the tarp over the mower to protect it from the rain that was coming.

I removed the tarp yesterday. The engine looked clean as a whistle, all the old gunk that had built up over the years was gone, at least on one side. But the oil was also gone from the engine. Every bit leaked out.

I guess the oil oil was the only thing holding that engine together. HD has some new rider in, time for a new one.

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You got your money’s worth out of that one, Dad changes the oil a little more often with his Craftsman mower that’s at least 20yrs old. This is #2 since we moved onto the property in 1979. The new mowing solution for the pasture (behind the fence in this picture) with a field mower that he’ll tow behind. Keeping the lawn tractor for the yard (4 acres of rolling trerrain)

20hp rider takes 1 qt? How much RP did you put in? Your story is hard to follow. So, you took out drain plug now and nothing came out? Put another qt in. See where it leaks out

A man with four used oil filters is capable of anything! I got that line from an old TV cartoon. The man had a wheelbarrow full of cereal box tops. That came from the days when you needed a can opener to drink beer.

Since your lawn tractor was made almost yesterday it may indeed call for 10W30 oil instead of straight 30 weight, I shouldn’t go around pointing out things like thin oil could be the problem.

I have more than four used oil filters, I only have four used oil filters for the lawn mower.

The engine called for 30HD. When I stopped changing the oil 10 + years ago, I just topped it off with used oil from my vehicles. Mostly that was 10w30 until recently. It was mostly used synthetic oil with about 7500 miles or less on it. But now two of my vehicles use 0w20 and one uses 5w30 and I don’t change the oil in that vehicle very often.

@Cavell, Oil apparently was draining from the top of the engine while I was using it but when I was done, the stick only showed a half quart down. BTW it takes about 1.75 qts to fill the engine. No oil in the engine now, I suspect that the bolts on the bottom of the engine have loosened up allowing the rest of the oil to drain through the bottom gasket. That happened to me with the Murray I had before this one. BUT, I haven’t gone into the engine to check yet.

Also, no replacement for this engine and no rebuild kits left. B&S only made it for a couple of years as far as I know. It is an opposed two cylinder flathead. They came out with the OHC V-2 shortly after this one was made.

The deck is getting close to the end of its service life too. The tires are original and are starting to dry rot, the deck lift rusted. Just not worth trying to salvage.

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I have two push mowers. The first mower is a Toro with a Tecumseh engine that I bought in 1988. It had its first repair last summer when I had to have the carburetor rebuilt. The second mower is a Homelite-Jacobsen I bought in 1992 with a Briggs and Stratton engine. I use this mower more often. It burned oil when I used straight 30 weight heavy detergent, so I tried 10W-30 full synthetic. That cut oil consumption by 80% for almost three seasons. When it started using oil again, I put 10W-40 non synthetic oil in the engine. That got me through another season.
Both mowers have a cast aluminum deck, so I don’t have a problem with deck rusting out. I change the oil every season, replace the air filter, put in a new spark plug and sharpen the blade. This simple maintenance has saved me having to buy a new mower every 7 to.10 years.


my prior mower with Honda engine was getting cheap synthetic oil changed annually, replaced 2 air filters in 10+ years and never replaced spark plug - it was still starting from the first pull, so why the heck…

the deck eventually rusted completely and I transplanted it to the $10 mower from a garage sale, keeps going again

These posts have changed my perspective about oil. I guess I liked straight 30W a little too much. Making engines run for a long time is the only goal. Well done.

I think we got off track here. It’s not about lawn mowers, it’s about the old myth (?) when some people believed that if they changed their oil, the engine would fall apart because the old oil was the only thing holding it together. Kinda happened here. Maybe I gave too much information at the start.

Years ago I took a high school night class on auto repair, taught by experienced mechanics. They took questions in a classroom format for the first session. One person asked if it is good idea to clean all the oil and grease off the engine once in a while. The instructor said that it makes working on the engine easier, but it’s possible a thorough cleaning of the engine of oil and grease may cause an oil leak where there wasn’t one before.

You know, I’m 52 years old. In my life I have never changed the oil in one of my lawnmower/edger/pressure washer/etc. When they start to leak or burn oil I’ll top off with whatever I happen to have around, but other than that I use them until they break or they no longer serve my purposes. Never had an engine failure either.

I did have a beautiful California Trimmer reel mower for a couple of years when I had a yard that justified the expense. I suppose if I had kept that house and mower I probably would have changed the oil at some point.

my snow blower is at least 10 years old. never had trouble with the engine. and I have to admit I dont remember changing the oil. bad, bad me. LOL but the carb gives me problems every year. so now I just buy a $25 one every year and change it when it acts up. I have tried taking them apart and cleaning them but never works right. yeah I know its the cheap carbs. but whos to say the $150 new one will last any longer now a days.

I would think it more likely that cleaning the engine would expose an oil leak that you didn’t notice before.


Fill it up and run it and see where oil leaks

I made the mistake of using marine-grade 2-cycle oil in the fuel/oil mixture for my leaf blower and string trimmer. Soon after both carbs stopped working. I don’t really understand why; it might have been just a coincidence. Anyway I went to the local small engine shop for carb rebuild kits, and the staff guy told me the same thing, when a small carb like that fails, attempts to repair will usually be unsuccessful.

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Been using amsol for the boat and Husqueverna chainsaw for years 50/1. Last summer chainsaw would not start. Now I don’t know but think it was a reputable shop. 2 summers ago ran like a champ, loaned it to a neighbor and 2 days of perfect service.Last year would not start, got new air filter and plug, starting fluid no go, could not see spark when plug grounded to frame. Shop cleaned carb and said when they could get it started the clutch was fried, junk it they said, so I did.

Sounds like me on my (also 4 acres of rolling terrain) when we lived in Georgia from 1996 to 2008. The mower was a 46", 3-blade, Yardman, B&S engine I think. Was still running like new when we moved to Texas.