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Discussion Starter #1
End of season last year I had my 70s 7hp Ariens serviced for carburetor and starting problems. I was also getting serious snapback from the recoil and suspected the flywheel key or points.

Oil and spark plug, points and condensor were replaced, a carburetor kit, carburetor bowl and the fuel lines and shutoff were replaced with a new pull cord installed.

First storm this year and again starting was not great even though I had drained after last spring's service and put fresh fuel in. Performed well though after starting except now there is an oil leak on the left side of the engine. It does not appear to be from the breather hose but rather coming from the breather gasket itself. They came back to get it but could offer no help, just considering it an "old" engine.

Is there something I can do with this breather plate and the gasket?
 

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So, I can remove the 2 bolts and the cover with the breather hose will come off, then just get a replacement gasket and reinstall? Do you know what the torque requirements are for those bolts?

Why wouldn't the repair shop have tried this? I feel like they blamed it on coming straight out of the hose, so spoke of compression problems, etc.
 

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This is the 8 hp version. As you can see its mostly an empty chamber that allows you to work on the valves. There is a breather hole in the bottom (air passage for below when piston goes up and down). The oil in the chamber is likely seeping in from the valve stems. I'm no expert at all, but a little bit of oil leaking out the gasket I doubt would cause your engine to run poorly, but you would need to keep an eye on the oil level and correct the issue as mentioned above would be best. I doubt if there is a torque for the bolts as they thread into an aluminum casting. You may need two gaskets, the 8 hp shown does as it's a two part cover. Clean the metal surfaces and tighten bolts snug.

Good question what they told about your oil leak? Maybe mostly in reference to hard starting.
 

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My 8½ HP Tecumseh began seeping oil from that valve cover last month, and I've never touched it during my 8 years of Ownership.

I tightened the two cover bolts down (they had loosened up about 1½ turns) and that ended the seepage. I gather that they had just vibrated loose over time and I caught it before it caused any trouble.

I have a Briggs engine on a Riding Mower whose valve cover also loosened up by itself . . . . but that one took 30 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #6


After running for 10 minutes I see oil coming down from the valve cover, I believe. Doesn't look to be coming out the breather tube.

I will try and find 2 new gaskets and clean and redo this area. One of the things it was sent in for service for at the end of last year was the excessive snapback from the recoil starter. Just now, it nearly took my arm with it before I was able to get it started, so I guess they didn't take a look at valve clearance, compression, the flywheel key, etc.
 

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After running for 10 minutes I see oil coming down from the valve cover, I believe. Doesn't look to be coming out the breather tube.

I will try and find 2 new gaskets and clean and redo this area. One of the things it was sent in for service for at the end of last year was the excessive snapback from the recoil starter. Just now, it nearly took my arm with it before I was able to get it started, so I guess they didn't take a look at valve clearance, compression, the flywheel key, etc.
While you have the cover off, check the valve clearance yourself. Do it when the engine is dead cold. If there is too much clearance, it will be hard to pull over, as the valve with the compression release doesn't open far enough to let the compression bleed off while your are starting it.

You might also want to check the key under the fly wheel to see if its sheared, and check the coil assembly to make sure it's properly located and tight, and since you have the flywheel off anyway, check those new points and make sure they are gapped right and everything is tight.

Timing, as they say, is everything in an engine.

One thing you might try to start it without dislocating your arm, would be to set the ignition to off, pull the motor just through the compression stroke, then stop. Turn on the ignition, choke and what ever other rituals you have to do to get your engine going, then pull it hard and fast. You should get enough spin to make the second revolution back to the compression stroke so it starts, and you still have two arms to operate it with.

Does it run OK once you get it going? Is it blowing smoke or running ratty or backfiring, or does it run smooth, throttle response it good, and snow flies far away?
 

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After running for 10 minutes I see oil coming down from the valve cover, I believe. Doesn't look to be coming out the breather tube.

I will try and find 2 new gaskets and clean and redo this area. One of the things it was sent in for service for at the end of last year was the excessive snapback from the recoil starter. Just now, it nearly took my arm with it before I was able to get it started, so I guess they didn't take a look at valve clearance, compression, the flywheel key, etc.
I agree about the oil.
A small engine repair shop would normally have gaskets if you give them your engine model number which is stamped into the blower shroud, near the spark plug.
Very good time to check you valve clearance when you have this area open. Not difficult to just "check" the clearance. You need feeler gauges and these are not too expensive. On youtube see, "How to check valve clearance on 4 cycle Flat Head engine" by donyboy 73. Your engine model is probably a HH70 or HM70 type and these have an .008 and .012. clearance. The video explains this.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Finally got my gaskets in. Course one is cut, but maybe it still may be usable. Now when I take off the valve cover, will I need to catch the oil or will it have drained all down into the oil pan? thx
 

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no - the oil doesn't come up that high. You can easily buy gasket material and cut your own by the way..... those simple ones cost more to ship than to buy! I get rolls of gasket material at any auto parts store.
 

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Thanks. Do these go in dry or do I require gasket cement?
clean metal surfaces off good , there is little pressure so you should be good dry. If you decide to check valve clearance , a feeler gauge you can buy at a hardware store for maybe 6 - $7.00 . I saw one here at a "Do it Best" franchise a couple of weeks ago.

Reading back on your OP you say a new carburetor bowl was installed. Normally all you do with the kit is clean and use the original one as it is readily re-useable.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Now, I believe I need to check the clearances at TDC. How can I be sure of that if all I am taking off is the valve cover? thx
 

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My Tecumsehs are more recent, but I believe they have you check clearances at 1/4" past TDC.

With an OHV engine, you can remove the spark plug, and stick something like a pencil down onto the top of the piston, to figure out the piston height.

With an L-head like yours, however, it's tougher. I've kind of inferred the piston height by turning the crankshaft by hand. You can remove the engine shroud to turn the flywheel by hand, or remove the belt cover and turn the pulley by hand.

With the spark plug installed, you can turn the engine in the normal direction by hand. Do this until you feel the compression stroke, it will become harder to turn the crankshaft. Get partway up the compression stroke, then remove the spark plug. Now slowly turn the engine by hand, still in the normal direction.

On my engines, I've been able to kind of feel when the piston is at TDC, because the crankshaft gets easier to turn. This is because the piston isn't sliding, so at TDC, you reach a point where you can rotate the crankshaft a little bit back and forth, and not really feel/hear any piston movement.

If you had the spark plug threaded in just a little, you might also be able to hear air squeezing out of the threads as the piston came up, which could help be a clue that the piston is traveling up/down.

For getting 1/4" past TDC, that's tougher. You might be able to use the feeler gauges to see if the valve clearances are still changing? The point of going past TDC, if that's what your engine calls for, is usually to make sure that you're past the compression release feature on the cam.
 

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My experience is with 8 hp versions only but assume your seven is about the same. With the valve cover off the intake valve is the one on the left, under carburetor port. On the intake stroke you can see intake valve move up (to open) and realize inside piston is coming down. Next is compression stroke and piston is going up to TDC. This is the stroke to check the clearance. I have sparkplug out and rotate engine manually. I take a small bright flashlight and peek in plug hole and watch piston as it comes up to top, then jiggle it up and down a little bit to center movement at TDC

Maybe you can install cut in your gasket with cut up.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Seems my oil leak is coming from the bottom of the engine now and not at the breather. It pools into the depressions around the engine mounting bolts. Any ideas for diagnosis for oil seepage in this area?

 

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.....yet another machine that may or may not need a repower ! dont beat your head against a wall chasing a serious oil leak, then spend $$ beating a dead horse, repower it and enjoy ! jmo
 
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