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Just Replace Old Gas. It's Not Worth It.

When we bought our house in 2001, it hadn’t seen more than a cursory lawn mowing in years. So, in addition to a mower (small Briggs and Stratton powered push mower), I bought a Poulan Pro 220 42cc 16" chainsaw. It has served me well ever since, starting reliably and working very well. Together, we’ve cleaned up a lot of neglect.

This spring, however, it was time for more than routine maintenance like cleaning the bar and drive and sharpening the chain. The starter rope broke during cleanup after a wet, heavy spring snowfall. Replacing it turned out to be easy, even fun. The most important thing: pretty much every service manual imaginable is available for free online, somewhere, if you search for it.

Illustration for article titled Just Replace Old Gas. Its Not Worth It.

However, this weekend, I could not get the saw to start. It’s always been easy to start. Maybe a few squeezes of the primer bulb, a few pulls on full choke, but that was it. I thought I flooded it, so I pulled the cover and spark plug, and cleaned out the chamber (repeatedly). It still wouldn’t start. I let hours pass letting the “flooded” engine dry out. Still no luck.


Finally, while cleaning out the combustion chamber yet again, I noticed the fuel was anything but volatile. A cautious test with a lighter revealed it would only reluctantly burn.

Bad gas. Old, bad, gas. I walked up to the corner station and bought/mixed a fresh gallon of 2-cycle. A few pulls later, and the saw fired right up, no problem. I took down the storm damaged tree and carved it up in to firewood and curbside yard waste in about 20 minutes. The gas was probably over a year old. From a day’s worth of failed pull-starts, my shoulder feels like I used it as a landing gear for a failed mountain bike maneuver. All for about $3 of gas and oil, and a Sunday’s worth of time. Got old fuel? Properly dispose of it, and replace it. It’s just not worth the expense.

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