Monday, January 7, 2013

The January Splits and more Tales of the Woodpile

As we approach Mid-January each year the time comes when the stored and split wood from last years cutting usually begins to run out.

My typical game plan for wood burning involves cutting anything that is standing dead or volunteering for any nuisance tree removal I am asked to undertake. The exception is I will not cut down anything that may present a danger like in the city or what have you. I then create various stacks here and there depending on the age, dryness and size of the harvested wood.

As Fall and burning season progresses I use the stuff I split and stored in late Spring and everything small enough to burn without splitting from about October to January. Anything that is so large as to need splitting during that period is stacked in a separate place and waits it's turn.

Even in Mild years like this one and last Winter there always comes a time right about Mid-January where the ground is too wet or snow covered to really get out and get any cutting done. By some miracle of nature those times almost always fall at about the same period when I begin to run short of wood perfectly sized and ready for burning. By this time of the year just using the stuff that doesn't need splitting has caused a general need to keep using the older stuff split and left over from last year. This way I never run into firewood that loses it's BTUs due to becoming too dry or rotting or just hanging around too long.

The melting snow and rain from Saturday assured that this weekend was going to be a split weekend so Sunday afternoon I went at it.

I rolled the splitter out of it's home, gassed it up, checked the oil and.....

The damned thing wouldn't start. What else is new?

It hasn't sat unused for more than three months this time and I made sure to start it not a month ago as well.

Let this be another lesson that small two stroke engines are instruments of the DEVIL. They are the most moody, cantankerous pain in the Ass things I wish I never had to deal with. It doesn't matter if they are Kohlers, Briggs and Stratton or whatever. THEY ALL SUCK.

Anyway I finally got the thing started. OK really my dad came by and tried and the damned thing started right up for him. Don't ask me why just look back up at the moody and cantankerous part above.

We split and split and split and barely made a dent in the large wood pile. If things keep going like this I will have a huge reserve pile ready for next year as well.

So today the January Splits moved into the Mid-Winter Maintenance as I went around to the whole herd of EVIL small engine DEMONS that reside around the Small-Hold and gave them their due sacrifice.

Each tank got a bit of Sta-Bil and a little new treated gasoline in their tank. The oil was checked and each mechanical antagonist was started and ran for a few minutes. For the first time ever every last one of the things actually started. I couldn't believe it.

I then went around and added a bit of Sta-Bil to each tank and container of stored gasoline, diesel, and kerosene as well.

Perhaps my Spring small engine repair bill  may not reach the four figures mark this year. YA right.

So anyway now is the time to go around and make sure your own evil small engine demons are storing well and ready to go for Spring. Treat the gas and never use anything but ethanol free gasoline in those engines. EVER. The ethanol will coat and varnish the fuel lines and corroborators if they sit too long or you run too much through them. I will blow out all the air filters during the Spring maintenance.

Another skill for the continuing decline you may want to look into is small engine repair. That is a skill that will become invaluable as the decline continues.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Adding to my "to do" list right now - thanks

    1. K - Ya it's best to do what ya can. Those small engines are the suck.

  2. All small motors will gum up when left sitting. 2 cycle, 4 cycle it doesn't matter. It is the gas evaporating and leaving gunk behind that does it. When I was a teen dad just loved 2 cycle lawnboys, probably because he didn't have to use or maintain them since he assigned that job to me.

    Running all the gas out seemed to help, but the carbs still had to be cleaned every spring. However if I drained it then ran the rest of the gas out I could usually just take the Carb off then pull the bowl off and spray the crap out of it with Carb and choke cleaner. Once the floats moved freely, put it back on and it would usually work. Also helps to spray a little Carb and choke cleaner in when starting it. I couldn't tell any difference between cleaning fluid and starting fluid so I just got the one and used it for both jobs.

    I hated it when I had to remove the internal jets and such to clean them out too. The way I did it was to screw them all the way down counting the number of turns and the size of the partial last turn. Then remove it and clean it off and out with the can o' junk. Then when you reinstall it you know to back it out 3 and 1/4 turns from snug to put it back where it was.

    My 4 cycle motorcycle was the same way, especially if I forgot to drain the gas. Only if I messed up and put one of the valves too tight or loose, I had to pay to put it in the shop.

    On either one it was almost always a matter of changing the plugs and cleaning the carbs to get it going, and usually something you can do yourself using the method above.

    1. Dan - Any engine sold as consumer usable should not require that kind of maintenance IMO especially since the EPA and other government regulations have made it almost impossible to even get to half the parts you mentioned easily.

      There seriously has to be a better way than needing to be able to take apart your small engine's entire fuel line assembly every few months.

  3. Great news about having all kinds of wood. You can't go wrong with more wood than you need.

    We've made sure to prepare all of our larger tools for the winter. I don't like using ethnol gas, our trucks have 100 percent fuel in them too.

    Our son is learning the hard way on what to do to treat his diesel truck for the winter. He's never had his own vehicle.

    1. Sandy - I just wish the small engines were as easy to maintain as the bigger ones. Around here we use Non-Ethanol gas only.

  4. As long as you stay ahead with the wood splinting the weather will be mild, but mark my words if you didn't stay ahead you would be barn roof high with snow and no wood.

    1. Rob - Well truth be told if I break my own rules as to what is cured enough to burn I could go from now until prolly May without running short or needing to split. If we got that much snow though it would cause some other issues that I am not sure how I would deal with lol.

      Your point is well taken and agreed with however.

  5. Had to have a tornado here in GA to learn my old ass something new,,the pic you have with a maul or wedge sticking up in the middle of the log reminded me of learning how to do it! I had a large tree down from the tornado and hired some amigos to cut it up, one of them asked me if I wanted it split but all we had was an axe, he split it by starting on the side of the log and split it across! I'da started in the middle and gotten the axe stuck or worse!

  6. Try adding an eyedropper measure of acetone to your fuel... Several drops if a small tank. Works great for chainsaws that take mix.

    Use a big piece of stump as a base for splitting your wood with a maul. Putting the wood to be split on the ground absorbs lots of the energy you're trying to impart to the wood.


Leave a comment. We like comments. Sometimes we have even been known to feed Trolls.