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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:57 pm 
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Hi all,

I thought I should add an intro to this thread.

I am a OPESSA certified technician at a OPE dealership here in Ames. Everyday I see things go wrong with lawn and garden equipment that could have been prevented with some simple maintence from the owner. In this day and age, where everything is instant, a vast majority of people think their equipment is bulletproof, and that it should take anything they do to it. While this equipment is not fragile, it requires maintenance just like anything else. With the ever rising cost of labor, and parts, hopefully my advice can help you avoid costly repairs and lost time from the equipment being in the shop.

Remember, any high end line of equipment (sold in a dealership, not your local big box) should and will last a long time if you maintain it according to the manufactuers reccommendations.

Disclaimer: I cannot, or will not take any responsibility for anything that you may do to your equipment following my advice. I do this for a living and am qualified, and I also believe my advice is sound, but I can't be responsible for your mechanical abilities, or lack thereof. Take the price of this advice, and value accordingly. If I did the repair, I would back it 110%, but since this is the internet, well, you get the idea.

73Delta88 wrote:
Image
The flagship... John Deere 430 lawn tractor. This pic is from a few years ago right after I painted it. It's about 22 years old and still going strong. 62" mid mount mower deck, rear PTO driven collection system with hydraulic dump, 3 cyl Yanmar Diesel, Hydrostatic transmission.



Just worked on one of these today... Nice unit, but like everything, had some design flaws. They brought it in b/c the parking brake was locked up. After taking the battery box, hydro lever dampner, and cowl loose, I had about 3 inches to get to the linkage... what a PIA. Anyway, the problem stems from how the parking brake lever works. It goes through the metal cowl, just like the rest of that era deeres, and when it gets worn, it lacks the abilility to disengage the parking brake. 15 minutes with the welder and a 15 dollar can of JD green fixed that! Also, IMO, the electrical system is designed well, but routed in an inefficient manner, but what isnt? Very impressive for a unit as old as it is. This one had the bagger, with the rear electric clutch, and had bar tires on it. Aside from that, it is one beefy piece of equipment!

Andrew


Last edited by andrewk on Fri Aug 31, 2007 7:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:49 pm 
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Hi all,
I bet I could fill a whole topic of just OPE that sucks... :shock: 8-) Anyway... My latest conquest/PITA...

Our shop does most, if not all of the warranty work for Ames, Altoona, Des Moines, and Ankeny Lowe's Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. So Lowes sells these Troy-Bilt Riders. Let me tell you, they are a piece of work. It's sad, my actual qualm with these things is with Briggs and Stratton. See, Briggs produces the OHV engines for these things like they are something special. The Briggs OHV is notorious for a number of things like: Valve lash that comes out of adjustment all the time (which causes the engine to spin up to compression stroke and then stop, like the battery is dead, which is because the cheap permanent magnet starters they use dont have the guts to turn it over, so they designed a shitty compression release on the cam. Seriously, this is a long side note, but people buy 150 dollar starters because they think its the starter when all it is is the valve lash :shock: ) and they are known for dipstick seals, head gasket failures and mysterious electrical problems.

Anyway, I have had a few in with valve lash problems... And what do I find in the valve cover? All kinds of metal shavings! And not just little glittery pieces... CHUNKS. The rep says "run it til it fails"... I just cant let that rest so easy. This thing is puking up aluminum like noone cleaned it out after boring. That, and these things are throwing stators (the charging system) left and right for an unknown reason. Apparantly, MTD (who makes TB) wired a bunch of em wrong so the AC wire from the stator goes to the battery and the DC wire with the diode goes to the lights. Talk about a fried battery! I finally had one today that spit some of the governor or cam gear up into the valve cover, so I get to tear one apart. I will be taking lots of pictures and posting them... I will create my own little topic I think...

Sorry for the rant, but consider it "consumer awareness" :roll:

Andrew



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:53 pm 
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73Delta88 wrote:
Just bought this the other day...
Image
http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product. ... Cookie=Yes

It has great power (compared to my old electric one) and it's still light enough that I can carry it up a ladder to get it up on the roof (got some serious mold/mildew growing on the shaded side of the house) This pressure washer is making short work of it!

The next step up was only 50 psi more, the same exact gallons per minute, in a much bulkier machine: http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product. ... Cookie=Yes


Be sure that when you winterize it, that you use "pump saver" which is a product made by generac. This is the best (and some times only) to preserve the pump throughout the winter and also to keep your warranty good. Just dealt with this yesterday... A guy winterized with RV antifreeze, which corroded in the pump. Not warranty, which sucks for him. (He actually went to the BBB and filed against us, because, you know... shoot the messanger...) Anyway, thought I'd give ya a heads up...

Andrew



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:59 pm 
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Hi all,
Figured I would offer this up... When I have time, I will post "insider" info on various OPE. (thats Outdoor Power Equipment) There are many things that I run into on a daily basis that I feel consumers should be aware of, and I will try to share as much as I can, when I can. These first 3 posts originally appeared in "what OPE do you use" Future installments will be better organized and written better.

Andrew



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:08 am 
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How to maintain your typical pushmower:

Tune it up every year! This includes, but is not limited to: Change the oil, air filter and pre filter (and oil the pre cleaner, if required), and spark plug. Sharpen or replace the blade, drain and flush the fuel system, inculding dropping the float bowl and cleaning the carb. Check the drive (if equipped) Scrape all the grass out, and give it a good bath. You will then be set for another year of mowing. 4 cycle mowers are easy to maintain, and really hard to kill. 90 percent of junk mowers that come in are junk because they werent maintained.

When you tip the mower on its side to replace the blade, do so with the dipstick side DOWN. This will avoid oil leaking into the carb and soaking the air filter you just bought. Make sure the blade is tight, and that all safety guards are in their places. Even if you think these devices are stupid, they will save your foot sometime.

Like a car, if you maintain it, it will last a long time. When it starts to get old and tired, make sure that you dont pour alot of money into it, just because it was faithful. A new mower will make sense in alot of situations, and there are many features that will have come out since the last time you bought a mower.

Next I will do small hand held 2 cycle maintence... Let me know via PM or here if there is anything I missed or if there is anything in particular you would like to see.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:32 am 
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andrewk wrote:
73Delta88 wrote:
Just bought this the other day...
Image
http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product. ... Cookie=Yes

It has great power (compared to my old electric one) and it's still light enough that I can carry it up a ladder to get it up on the roof (got some serious mold/mildew growing on the shaded side of the house) This pressure washer is making short work of it!

The next step up was only 50 psi more, the same exact gallons per minute, in a much bulkier machine: http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product. ... Cookie=Yes


Be sure that when you winterize it, that you use "pump saver" which is a product made by generac. This is the best (and some times only) to preserve the pump throughout the winter and also to keep your warranty good. Just dealt with this yesterday... A guy winterized with RV antifreeze, which corroded in the pump. Not warranty, which sucks for him. (He actually went to the BBB and filed against us, because, you know... shoot the messanger...) Anyway, thought I'd give ya a heads up...

Andrew


thanks, I usually put all our stuff like that in the cellar for winter, doesn't get anywhere near freezing in there (I do whatever periodic maintenence it needs and drain whats left of the fuel out first of course, no need to have gas hanging around under the house. :shock: )



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:44 pm 
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Small 2 cycle maintence

First off, in the OPE world there are 3 types of engines. There are the 4 strokes, the 2 strokes and the hybrids. Hybrids (like the Sthil 4180 series, like the FS 100, 110, etc) are 2 strokes that operate as 4 strokes. Sthil is the only maker I know if making these. You get the weight and simplicity of a 2 stroke with the torque of a 4 stroke. To do this they actually use a cam and valves, but that is a whole other post. I will be focusing on the handheld, port style 2 strokes here, but the same principles apply.

The most important things to 2 strokes are fuel mix, and not having any air leaks. Air leaks will lean out the mixture and cause scoring. Air leaks will also allow debris to enter the cylinder, causing dirt gut. Fuel mix is vital to keeping everything lubed, but not gummed up.

To properly tune up one of these pieces of equipment, you need 3 things. A new air filter, a new spark plug, and a new fuel filter. Replace these components, and you should be set, if the unit was in good running condition previously. However, if the unit wont start...

First off, do a compression and ignition check. If the engine has less than 100 pounds of compression, round file it and get a new one. If it has more than 170, do the following. Pull the muffler, and look at the exaust side of the piston. Any vertical scoring or marring indicates a lean condition and the unit is more than likely not worth repairing. Look at the intake side of the cylinder by moving the piston up or down the cylinder. Any scoring here indicates dirt gut. If all is fine, pull the carb, or find the intake port, and look at the piston and cylinder here. Any scoring on the lower exaust side indicates dirt gut, as does a nice and shiny piston. Pistons will have machine marks in them, and if you cant seem those, its junk. Scoring of the intake side of the piston also indicates dirt gut.

If the piston and cylinder check out fine, pull the inlet side of the carb and check it out. If there is alot of corrosion or dirt in the carb, it will need replaced. Newer carbs have 4 or 5 non seriviceable check valves in them, and these can be destroyed by soaking the carb in solvent. It is almost impossible to get dirt or gummy fuel out of these carbs.

If the carb and cylinder are fine, and you have ignition, the next step is a pressure and vaccum test of the crankcase. This is too far for most guys, and I will go into this part later, if needed.

I talked alot about dirt gut, and some may wonder, "How do we prevent dirt gut??" The answer is simple. Keep the unit clean, and clean it the right way. Make sure the air filter always seals, and stays clean, but blow out through the clean side. I have seen alot of chainsaws that are junk because the owner thought they were taking excellent care of the saw, by blowing off the filter, when they are actually blowing dirt through the filter into the intake or cylinder to be a nice abrasive into the cylinder.

Also, carburators, at least the newer ones, are very sensitive and non adjustable, at least with out the right tools... The EPA has this stuff running very lean, and the smallest thing can plug it. It is important to not lean out the high side too much (if you can even adjust it) and it is vital to make adjustments only after the saw is warm. Base adjustments are 1 turn for both high and low.

If I missed anything, I will add it later... this is a complex subject, but hopefully it helps someone out.

Andrew



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 Post subject: LOOK AT THE CARNAGE!!!
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:43 pm 
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Hi all,
Thought you all would like this... A few posts up, I talk about the Briggs and Stratton engines on the el-cheapo mowers... Well today I finally got to tear one down. First a bit of background.

Briggs has been making OHV engines since the late 80s. They started in the Vanguard series (280000) and have progressed to other series. The lower series, InTek (short for Innovative Technology) (310000) are the ones featured on MTD mowers sold at your local big box store. There are a number of problematic components on these engines, and I will talk about some of those now.

The OHV engine is capable of compression readings of 150 or better. This is high for the 4 cycle small engine world, where normal readings are 80-110. However, starting these high compression engines is hard on a starter, especially the ones they use. They use permanent magnet starters, and they have a remote solenoid. They have no gear reduction, and have a very simple centrifugual drive. Needless to say, these things dont have the guts to turn an engine making 150 pounds of compression past the compression stroke. So in order to allivate this, they build a compression release into the camshaft, and use adjustable rocker arms to adjust valve clearence so the compression release will work.

Problem is, the clearence will wear out of spec, and the engine will hit compression stroke and stop. (We sell lots of starters, batteries, and solenoids because of uninformed customers) So all I have to do is adjust the valve clearence, and the unit is on its way. Which brings me to the point of all this.

A few of these engines have come in for this problem (it is very common) and I have noticed that when I pull the valve cover, there are all sorts of aluminum shavings in the rocker arm area, going down the push rod galley twords the crankcase. I am thinking "Oh shit!" but the service rep for Briggs says "Run er till she croaks... thats what the warranty is for!" I see the point, as it isnt profitable to go on a wild goose chase.

Anyway, yesterday I had a Troy-Bilt Generator come in, with this problem. I pull the valve cover and lo and behold, this thing has puked up some serious shavings!! I found part of the governor gear as well, which is excuse enough for me to tear it down for failure anaylsis. Keep in mind, This thing RAN!

I found not only were there shavings, but nice big chunks of the rod that connects the crank to the balancer weight. This weight cuts down vibration, and has been used for many years by Briggs.

Here is the crank and the remains of the rod. Keep in mind this is not the piston connecting rod...

Image

You can see in the above pic (maybe, the shop camera sucks) that there is lots of rotational wear on the side that faces the sump cover.

Here is the sump cover... with the carnage inside it.

Image

You can also see in the above pic the rotational wear on the bearing surface. There are bits and pieces of the governor gear assembly in here as well.

Here is a "big picture" shot.

Image

And here is a close up of shaving and such. Notice that the grease pen markings are still in there. This thing has very few hours on it.

Image

The culprit? A casting flaw. At least thats the only thing I see that could have caused it. Another theory is that the crankshaft had too much endplay, which on vertical crankshaft engines, is set with the sump gasket thickness :shock: But we will see what the rep says. I am wondering if the other engines I am seeing like this are just a few hours away from complete self destruction, but time will tell. Here is a (poor) pic of the piece with the casting flaw. It is a little air bubble that you cant see in the pic, but here it is anyway...

Image

So, I will post more as I find it... Sorry for the "book"!

EDIT- The rep says to shortblock this bad boy... Look like more work for me!

Regards,
Andrew



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:38 pm 
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How to Sharpen a mower blade:

There are a number of things to visually check before sharpening your mower blade. The first is to make sure the sharp part of the blade has enough material left on it to be sharpened. Never sharpen any closer than an inch from the "wings". Also, make sure the wings arent thin. If you can see thinning on the bend where the wing comes up, throw it away. If you were to hit a rock, these pieces of metal can (and will) break off, resulting in flying shrapnel. Not good. If all is fine, you can sharpen.

When you sharpen it, be sure to get a nice edge on it. There is no need to grind the back side other than to remove any thin "flash" from the edge. Dont put an angle on the back- the edge wont last, and it will shorten the service life of the blade. Be sure to balance check the blade, or else you will have lots of vibration.

By following the above steps, you can help your mower cut better, and for longer!

Andrew



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 3:39 pm 
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Since snow season (well for most of us) is just around the corner, I thought I would post some basic snowblower maintenence for you all so hopefully you can avoid shop time this fall.

The #1 reason snowblowers dont start is because of bad fuel. This can be because perhaps the blower has sat for a long time, or b/c it was stored improperly. Anyway, the first thing to do, is drain and flush the fuel system. If you have a float style carb, do yourself a favor and go get a needle and seat kit, as well as a bowl and bowl nut gasket. drop the bowl, clean the carb, replace the needle and seat. (If you have the metal needle and rubber seat. If the needle has a rubber tip, just change that unless there is alot of corrosion in the carb.) You should use a thumb pump to test the integrity of the seal between the needle and seat. At this tiem Drain the fuel in the tank and flush with some carb cleaner, or some extra fresh fuel. Check the condition of the fuel and primer line, and make sure there are no cracks or anything. If you question the integrity of the lines, replace them, it's cheap insurance. Once it is all back together, fill it with fresh fuel (mixed with 2-cycle oil appropriately if necessary) and some seafoam. The reason for the seafoam is to clean and coat all the carb passages to clean and protect them. You can use any similar product, or none at all. Replace the spark plug, and see if it starts! Hopefully it does. Now, if its a 4 cycle, go ahead and let it warm up, and then change the oil. The next steps are different for different types of snowblowers.

Single Stage:

Check the paddles and scraper. Most single stage blowers have rubber paddles that contact the ground to pull and throw the snow. Some blowers have metal augers that have rubber flighting attached, and some have just a metal auger, although that design hasn't been used much since the 60's. You should not be able to get more than a finger between the paddles/flighting and the back of the housing. If you can, new paddles/flighting are/is in order. The scraper bar should have a good edge and not be all torn up. If it is, replace it. If your scraper bar is metal, you can dress it with a grinder, provided there is enough material there to be usable after it has a straight edge. Check the belt from the engine to the auger, and make sure it will hold up through the season. If in doubt, replace it. Check any idler pulleys, or any plastic parts here for wear. Make any needed repairs there, and inspect the frame of the blower for any cracks, abnormalities, or anything you feel might be broken, and repair if necessary, and you are ready for a winter of snow!

Two stage:

Same principals apply, only there are a few additional components. First is the gearbox. Make sure you have grease in the gearbox, or else it will eventually fail. Two stage snowblowers have 2 steps the snow goes through in order to be moved. First is the auger, just like a single stage, and the auger feeds the impeller, which is similar in design to a water pump impeller, and the impeller throws the snow through the chute. The impeller is driven via belt from the engine crank shaft, and the auger is connected via gearbox. You will want to check and inspect the auger, and you just need to make sure that it isnt worn down, and that the shear pins are in place. Shear pins are low grade bolts that are designed to snap and let the auger freewheel if something large and solid is hit. Scraper bar should be adjusted to 1/16'' off the ground if on pavement, or 1/4 if in grass or gravel, and this is an approximation. Like a singe stage, you should make sure this scraper bar has a good even edge, and is installed so the edge is parallel to the ground. The height is adjusted via skid shoes. Skid shoes are located on the sides of the auger housing, and have thick metal bottoms to slide on the ground. Make sure the skid shoes arent worn down, and if so, replace them. You will want to inspect the drive belts, and adjust the tension if necessary. Then go to the handles, and inspect the levers and cables for wear, repairing if necessary. You will then want to look at the bottom of the blower at the drive disc that drives the wheels. It is a friction drive, and the rubber disc is what usually needs replaced if the drive doesn't work. When replacing the friction wheel, you also want to inspect the plate that it rides on for wear, replacing if necessary. It can have some run out, but if the plate is really wavy, replace it. Also inspect the frame of the blower from the inside while you are here. If all is fine, reassemble, check the tire pressure, if applicable, and you are ready to throw snow!

Next will be proper storage of equipment, when I get time.

Andrew

Article updated- 12/22/2007


Last edited by andrewk on Sat Dec 22, 2007 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:19 pm 
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Proper Storage of Equipment.

There are many theories revolving around OPE storage, mostly revolving on whether or not to drain the fuel. Here is my field tested opinion.

If it is going to sit in your garage, fill it completely full with fuel, and then run it to get the fresh fuel into the carb. The more fuel you have in the system, the less room there is for moisture. Come spring, dump the gas out of the equipment and put it in your car. Your car will run this minute parcel of semi stale fuel through with no problem, however, you could also dispose of it properly.

If the equipment will be indoors, completely drain the system. Drop the carb and wipe out whatever remains, and you will be fine.

Other than that, if your seasonal equipment sits where mice and rodents can get at it, protect it accordingly, like with moth balls and mouse killer. Mice can cause all sorts of headaches.

By following this simple procedure, your equipment should be ready for the following season, or at least ready for its seasonal tuneup, which wont be a headache, since it was stored properly!

Andrew



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:26 pm 
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So it came back to haunt me...

The same generator pictured above (the carnage pics) came back to the shop yesterday, after about 5 hours run time. Owner complained of noise. I ran it, and thought the bearing had gotten dry for the inner field. Took it apart, found the bearing to be good.

I then tipped the unit on its back where I found a nice crack in the block. At this point I think to myself; "Did I drop this thing?" But the crack warrants a teardown, and what do I find but the same problem! So I call the rep, who says- well... shortblock it... I tell him we have, and he says "hmm". I then proceed to tell him about all these engines I see with shavings coming out of them, so he comes to the shop.

Come to find out, Briggs had a bad run of blocks that the top bearing wasnt right in. It wasnt getting oil, and would get wiped out in about 2 hours of run time. The loose bearing would then let the balancer weight swing around, causing the balancer weight connecting rods to break, resulting is the carnage. I have more pics to share, but dont have them here tonite.

So my thinking is that Briggs is seeing if these bad, or semi bad blocks will live through warranty (1 year) so they dont lose their butt. Sad to see, but I guess I understand.

I doubt anyone has been keeping up with this, but I thought I would provide an update.

Andrew



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 Post subject: Re: andrewk
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:39 pm 
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I've been keeping up, I love reading your advice.

I've worked on everything we have (except for the new Craftsman mower), and even bought a weed whacker and leaf blower for cheap and fixed em up... :lol:

Everything is working great over here...haven't had a chance to test out the snowblower yet.... :D

What's your opinion on those points to electronic switch ignition things? I was thinking of putting that on the snowblower...1976 Craftsman (Tecumseh).

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 Post subject: Re: andrewk
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Brando wrote:
I've been keeping up, I love reading your advice.

I've worked on everything we have (except for the new Craftsman mower), and even bought a weed whacker and leaf blower for cheap and fixed em up... :lol:

Everything is working great over here...haven't had a chance to test out the snowblower yet.... :D

What's your opinion on those points to electronic switch ignition things? I was thinking of putting that on the snowblower...1976 Craftsman (Tecumseh).

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The electronic ignition is more stable than points, and sure beats the hell out of changing and setting them. The kit is not terribly priced, IIRC, and the good thing about it is its probably a retrofit, meaning you can use the points magneto if its still good. The module should just clip on to the mag, unless you are talking about a different electronic thing. I restored a 1967 Massey Ferguson MF8 lawn tractor with a Tecumesh... I still use points in it, but am going to eventually convert it. Its sad, when you do it for a living, the last thing you want to do is work on your own junk... lol.

Glad at least one person is reading :D

Andrew



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 Post subject: Re: andrewk
PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 3:02 am 
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andrewk wrote:
........ Glad at least one person is reading.

I hired a Gardner last year, but it's still interesting.

Keep it up.

Norm



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Harry S. Truman wrote:
When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.
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