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What's engine starter spray/should we get some?
Old 03-06-2011, 05:57 PM   #1
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What's engine starter spray/should we get some?

Lawn tractor wouldn't start. Replaced battery, still wouldn't start. Husband called John Deere serviceman who came out, sprayed the engine with something from a can - darn thing started right up.

I wasn't there; this was related to me by husband.

What was the spray, and would it be a good thing to have on hand, or is it one of those things that mechanics use but lay people shouldn't mess with?

Thanks,

Amethyst
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:02 PM   #2
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I'd bet it was a carb cleaner...
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:04 PM   #3
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Gumout® - Small Engine Carb & Choke Spray
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:14 PM   #4
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ether.

not at all good as a steady diet for internal combustion engines. A couple second squirt, then crank.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starting_fluid
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:20 PM   #5
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Engine starting spray is a very highly flammable substance. Too much of a good thing in a small engine can cause nasty things like a warped piston head, valve damage, a cracked spark plug, and in the case of overuse (as in dripping down the engine) the occasional exterior explosion outside the combustion chamber.

My training as a small engine mechanic (thank you Sears! ) tells me to check these sytems in this order...
1. Ignition - clean and/or replace the spark plug, is the starter system supplying electricity to the plug, are the ground wires rust free, is the spark plug wire firmly on the spark plug head, is the battery fully charged.
2. Combustion - is the gas fresh, is it water free, is the gas cap plugged, is the air filter clean, is the choke lever in the right position, is the engine flooded after too many attempts to start it up,
3. Compression - see your mechanic, too involved to get into here
4. Power - ditto
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:28 PM   #6
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Another interesting use for starter spray - one year a baby raccoon fell down the chimney into our fireplace. The mother came down after it. We tried calling the police, pest control, animal control - nobody would come to get the coons out of our fireplace. I finally got brave enough to pick up the baby and put it outside thinking the mother would follow after it. Nope. She stayed clinging to the inside of the chimney with just her tail hanging down. I tried pulling on her tail to pull her down. She growled at me. I tried coaxing her out with peanut butter. Didn't work. My husband said he had an idea. He went to the garage and got the starter spray and sprayed it on the mother. Starter spray contains ether. The mother got groggy and fell out of the chimney. I got a broom and "swept" her out the back door where she reunited with her baby and staggered/waddled off through the backyard.
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:32 PM   #7
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Prestone makes a starter fluid. Like other posters mentioned, its ether based, and burns hotter than gas.

Prestone® Starting Fluid | Print View | Products | Prestone®
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:36 PM   #8
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Ether or an equivalent. Though you want to use it sparingly when you use it, and not as a steady diet. Whatever the engine problem is, it needs to be addressed, starter fluid is not a permanent solution. Best of luck...
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:58 PM   #9
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The repairman didn't do you a favor, as he didn't really fix the problem. It sounds like you have a fuel problem - stale gas or a choke that is not working properly. It could also be a weak spark to the spark plug, or even low compression. Ether use is sort of a trick to overcome any of these problems.

I'd drain the fuel from the gas tank and add fresh gas. See if it will start. If not, shoot a little gasoline or ether into the air inlet. Once it starts run it for 10 minutes or so to allow any stale gas in the carburetor to be consumed.

If it will not restart once cold, you have other issues as noted above.
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:12 PM   #10
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For the OP. It was statring fluid, AKA ether.

It also makes a good wasp spray. In olden days ether was used as anesthetic. It still works as such, not very pleasant. In this case using it on wasps, wood boring bees etc makes them go to sleep permanently.

If you find a 1/2" hole in woodwork , watch for the the bee to crawl in then spray into the hole. A few rattles later bee sleep good.

By the way you should get some. NAPA, wallys, kmart etc. My 50+ year old tractor does not like to start easy. I just spray a few shots onto the filter. Starts fine.

A lot is not good for the engine a liiitle is ok.

edit: Thanks Al, I needed that.
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
For the OP. It was staring fluid...
If you use too much:

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Old 03-06-2011, 08:01 PM   #12
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I always have a can of ether around to use as a starting aid. I've heard that it shouldn't be used on a 2 stroke engine.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
ether.

not at all good as a steady diet for internal combustion engines. A couple second squirt, then crank.

Starting fluid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I had an old tractor that was not easy to make go in the spring. Ether to the rescue!

Ha
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:25 PM   #14
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As others have indicated, while the lawn tractor started, it isn't fixed.

For some reason it isn't getting fuel. I know that the ethanol in gas these days raise havoc with many engines. You likely need to have the carb cleaned.

You could try buying a can of carb cleaner (also a spray can) at your auto supply store and follow the directions. Typically, you would spray the carb cleaner into the throat and let it sit and disolve any gum in the carb, play the throttle and chock some and then start the engine.

Good luck.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
Engine starting spray is a very highly flammable substance. Too much of a good thing in a small engine can cause nasty things like a warped piston head, valve damage, a cracked spark plug, and in the case of overuse (as in dripping down the engine) the occasional exterior explosion outside the combustion chamber.

My training as a small engine mechanic (thank you Sears! ) tells me to check these sytems in this order...
1. Ignition - clean and/or replace the spark plug, is the starter system supplying electricity to the plug, are the ground wires rust free, is the spark plug wire firmly on the spark plug head, is the battery fully charged.
2. Combustion - is the gas fresh, is it water free, is the gas cap plugged, is the air filter clean, is the choke lever in the right position, is the engine flooded after too many attempts to start it up,
3. Compression - see your mechanic, too involved to get into here
4. Power - ditto
That has got to be one of the sexiest things I've ever heard a female say! Wow, you've got it right on!

To others who are saying the ether/starting fluid didn't fix anything - true, but sometimes just getting the engine started is enough to pull enough gas through to clear out the stale gas in the line. It might get you by, kinda like a 'jump start' doesn't fix any problems, but if the battery is just low, it'll get you going again.

-ERD50
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
That has got to be one of the sexiest things I've ever heard a female say! Wow, you've got it right on!

To others who are saying the ether/starting fluid didn't fix anything - true, but sometimes just getting the engine started is enough to pull enough gas through to clear out the stale gas in the line. It might get you by, kinda like a 'jump start' doesn't fix any problems, but if the battery is just low, it'll get you going again.

-ERD50
You might try some SeaFoam in both the gas tank and carburetor.
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

To others who are saying the ether/starting fluid didn't fix anything - true, but sometimes just getting the engine started is enough to pull enough gas through to clear out the stale gas in the line.

-ERD50
+1

Yep....... for starting my mower first time in the spring or my snow blower first time in the winter, a little starter fluid sprayed into the air intake will usually get it to fire for a few cycles and get fuel flowing again. If spraying into the air intake doesn't do it, I pull the plug a give 'er a little spray direct into the cyliner, replace the plug and usually get great results.

But Amethyst, normal maintenance still needs to be done. New plugs, oil change for 4-strokes, new air and fuel filter, etc.
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:16 AM   #18
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Yep....... for starting my mower first time in the spring or my snow blower first time in the winter, a little starter fluid sprayed into the air intake will usually get it to fire for a few cycles and get fuel flowing again. If spraying into the air intake doesn't do it, I pull the plug a give 'er a little spray direct into the cyliner, replace the plug and usually get great results.

But Amethyst, normal maintenance still needs to be done. New plugs, oil change for 4-strokes, new air and fuel filter, etc.
Also, don't forget to "treat" your remaining gas before you shut it down for the season. In my case, it's my lawn tractor and snowblower. Here's what I add to the tanks:

http://www.goldeagle.com/brands/stabil/default.aspx
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:21 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
<snip> To others who are saying the ether/starting fluid didn't fix anything - true, but sometimes just getting the engine started is enough to pull enough gas through to clear out the stale gas in the line. It might get you by, kinda like a 'jump start' doesn't fix any problems, but if the battery is just low, it'll get you going again.

-ERD50
+1 I thought she was having recurring problems and that is why she wanted the starting fluid but after reading the original post I see she just wanted to have some handy.

What I sometimes do if I'm out of starting fluid is pull the plug(s), pour a bit of fuel (1/4 cup or so) in each cylinder, reset the plugs, pull the chole and start the engine. If it is having trouble getting fuel this sometimes draws it through and get things going.
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:51 AM   #20
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..........pour a bit of fuel (1/4 cup or so) in each cylinder...........
Seriously, a 1/4 cup? I hope you mean a few drops.
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