We had figured out the new soil and cement mixtures. We had poured the slab with a stem wall, and so it was back to making blocks.

I turned the key to get hydraulic flow and the beast just lurched and groaned. I jumped the battery…more groaning. It was a 10 year old Briggs & Stratton V-twin engine, and it really owed us nothing. I had babied it with oil and filter changes every 10 hours, but something was wrong. Time to re-build the engine. Well, at least tear it apart and locate the problems. What a pile of junk. I had hoped it was only a typical B&S compression release issue, but the V-twin does not have that feature.

Here it is in pieces. The cams were worn although the rods were perfect. Turns out, the shims had worn out and the fine dust they made served as a grinding polish on the cam shaft and finally the oil pump. A positive feedback cycle, if there ever was one. Anyways, it was no use trying to give it CPR, so I scrapped it and bought a replacement. Only 24 horses instead of 26, but it handles the hydraulic pump just fine.

Fortunately, the replacement B&S engine fit the engine mounts and wiring perfectly, and we went right back to work after only a 3-day delay. You can see the new engine on the old frame.

My point for writing this episode is that if you buy a machine for making blocks, the most critical factor for production is routine maintenance and the ability to fix whatever goes wrong. Imagine the cost to me if I had had to haul that contraption to a shop!


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