Main Picture
Cutting Edge
Turf Line News August/September 1999
by Steve Moore

I was in the doctor's office the other day having him look at my sore arm. When you get a little older and you still play recreational hockey, your body starts to get the odd seizures in the limbs. Now I was a little surprised when he checked my blood pressure, he listened to my heart, he looked in my ears and shone a light in my eyes. "What does all this have to do with my sore arm," I asked the doctor. He said, "Well first I always have to check you over to see if anything else might have caused the problem in your arm. Do you think I should have cut your arm open to see if something was wrong?" Of course he was right. He was just eliminating most of the problems that were not causing the pain and he could then zero in on what was really wrong.

Good power tool technicians also use this approach. When they first start working on an engine, they don't start taking the unit apart before they've done a full analysis of the problem. They evaluate what the customer has said. They inspect each system of the engine, and they eliminate components that cannot have contributed to the failure. Once the technician has done this, he can professionally advise the customer on the cause of the problem and the cost of the repair.

For years STIHL Limited has been promoting a simple but thorough troubleshooting method to improve the service you offer your customers. This procedure is designed to give your customer a detailed outline of what was wrong with the machine and what it's going to cost to fix it. Normally this inspection only takes 15 to 25 minutes and the cost of the inspection would be covered in most shop's minimum estimate charge. The other nice thing about this system is that the tools required for the inspection are few in number and relatively inexpensive. All you need are screw drivers to loosen the various power tool screws, a block of rubber plate for the exhaust port, a plate with a nipple for the intake port, a hook to pull out the fuel filter, a pressure/vacuum pump and an ignition tester. The total cost for all these tools is less than $650. This cost should be recovered in less than one month's repairs, and your customer will receive a professional and complete analysis of their power tool.

What's involved? There are six steps to STIHL's TOTAL ENGINE CHECK or TECH System.

1. Inspect the condition of the engine, the piston, cylinder, crankshaft and bearings. Much of the condition of the engine can be determined simply by removing the muffler and looking for damage to the piston. Using STIHL's Engine Failure Analysis Manual your technician can tell if the engine overheated or dirt was being ingested or any of many other defects that were causing problems in the engine. The worst thing your technician can do is waste time and money tuning up an engine if the engine itself is damaged. Who pays for the labour and parts if the engine is not worth repairing after carb kits and spark plugs were put into the machine? Inspect first, repair later!

2. Ignition systems are the most trouble free part of any hand held power tool, yet this is the first component that technicians replace. The Imrie 625 Ignition Analyzer is the best ignition inspection tool on the market. A very simple test using the Imrie 625 will tell you if you have the correct ignition voltage your engine requires. If the voltage you get is to specification, there is nothing else your technician can do to improve the voltage. If the voltage is too low, there are only a few things that could cause it - normally, easily determined by your technician. The Imrie 625 can also tell your technician if something not related to your ignition system is at fault. The working or running voltage can also be checked. This can tell you if the engine is using more or less than normal voltage. This can mean a problem with the carburator or several other engine components. Constant use and experience with the Imrie 625 will greatly improve your technician's troubleshooting skills.

3. Check the fuel system. Simply removing the fuel filter and pressurizing the fuel line can tell you a lot about the fuel system. You can check the quality of the fuel, you can inspect the fuel lines and you can get a good idea if the carburator is good, simply by pressurizing the fuel line.

4. A blocked fuel tank vent is a small problem that can cause expensive repairs! Again you can use a pressure tester to make sure the fuel tank vent is venting. If the fuel tank does not vent, the engine can run lean, overheat and seize. If your technician does a major engine repair but forgets to check the vent, the unit might seize again…at your expense!

5. The TECH system also can find external fuel leaks, either a crack in the tank or a leaking fuel cap. Leaking fuel can be a fire hazard especially if the unit you are repairing is a back pack blower. Here the operator probably would not realize that fuel is dripping down his back.

6. And finally you can do a pressure and vacuum test with this system. As any two-cycle repair shop knows, pressure and vacuum testing is probably the most important procedure in two-cycle repair. Pressure and vacuum testing checks seals, gaskets, intakes, impulse lines, and crankcase castings. If you do a tune up and do not pressure test the engine, you might overlook a problem which could damage the engine a few days after your customer picks up the unit. If they spent $100 for a tune up, do you think they will want to spend another $300 or $400 repairing a damaged engine a few days later?

All dealerships want a profitable repair shop. You cannot have a profitable repair shop if your technicians don't know how to troubleshoot and they don't have the tools to troubleshoot. Do yourself a favor, commit to STIHL's TECH system. Make sure you have the tools and instruct your technicians to use the TECH system on every unit that comes in for repair. This is a service that can replace your old "Our minimum shop charge is $XXX" sign and replace it with "We offer STIHL's TECH system to completely analyze your engine's faults for $XXX." Don't you think that'll make your shop look more professional and become more profitable?

Steve Moore is the National Manager for Technical Services with STIHL LIMITED. Steve was the guest presenter at the 1st Annual Mechanics Seminar combined with the WCTA Summer Research/Supplier Field Day held at Swan e Set Bay Resort G&CC on July 14th. About 20 mechanics attended this year. Now that the word is out we shall expect a lot bigger crowd of mechanics at the 2000 Field Day.

Steve Moore gave an excellent presentation on maintenance and trouble shooting of the smaller 2-cycle engines and ways to extend their lives. The WCTA thanks Steve for putting on his seminar for the mechanics and for making the above article on the Six Steps to Stihl's TOTAL ENGINE CHECK or TECH System available for the Mechanics' Corner.

For more information of the TECH System you may contact:
Steve Moore, National Manager, Technical Services
Stihl Limited
Unit 100, Building C, 9087 - 198th Street
Langley, BC V1M 3B1
Phone: (604) 882-0782 Fax: (604) 882-3982

Turf Line News August/September 1999

Back to Turf Line News Article Index click here