Easy Start

A string trimmer

Image via Wikipedia

If it weren’t so annoying I’d laugh at the words written on my Honda gasoline-powered powersprayer’s engine. It says:


One is led to conjecture they display this expression to convey a sense of contrast with the sort of gas-engine-powered tools that often require a combination of Olympic athleticism and incantations to foreign gods to spur them into an operational state.

However, my “easy start” powersprayer sometimes takes up to twenty vigorous tugs on the cord, pumping the choke, releasing pressure from the sprayer wand, and invocations of divine assistance to accomplish the task, bringing cascades of sweat to my fit body, and requiring me to take breaks to catch my breath every several yanks.

Frankly, that process does not fulfill my idea of “easy start.” In fact, it’s my idea of “extremely difficult to start,” and therefore seems to be a rather strange choice of phrase to feature in one inch letters on the engine. It might as well also say ELECTRIC POWERED, which is also a lie.

My Honda automobilethat’s what I think of when I see the words “easy start.” I barely have to blink or breathe and it starts right up, and quietly. It’s never failed me, even in winter. But nowhere on the displayed text anywhere in my car can I find the words “easy start.” You’d think that if Honda wants to display the words “easy start” at all, they’d choose to write them on a device that is actually easy to start rather than one that is almost impossible to start. Don’tcha think?

Last month my much needed cheapo Black & Decker GrassHog string trimmer broke, and I couldn’t fix it. I decided to invest in a tool that might actually work — a Stihl trimmer. But which model to buy? I perused the Stihl website product listings, then went to a local dealer and offered my throat to a young salesman. These gizmos are not cheap, and I don’t have money to spare right now. It came down to a choice between one model and another similar model that features a cleaner-burning engine and an “easy start” engine. Hmmm. The less featureful model was already more than I wanted to spend, so I opted for that one.

The salesguy took the device to the back room service center behind nearby closed doors to start it up for the first time for me and verify the instrument actually works. I stood there for several minutes listening to the trimmer’s gasps and chuffs, accompanied by an assortment of grunts and oaths being uttered by the team of two strapping lads working on it. Brand new machine. Wouldn’t start in five minutes of physically exhausting effort.

I stuck my head in through the doors and said, “I’m sorry. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to buy this thing.” The two guys appeared to be bewildered and disappointed, but what could they do? I left, but this left me trimmerless. I considered just buying another one of the kind that broke and using it until that one broke, too. (That one is electric, and at least starts, but has the disadvantage of having to drag around a 30-pound 75-foot cord wherever I’m working.)

About two weeks later a minor windfall came my way. While I was in North Carolina, where my in-laws live, I visited the Stihl dealer there, where my father-in-law bought his. After talking to another knowledgeable young salesman, I selected the FS 56 model, the same basic unit as at the other dealer, but this one with the cleaner-burning engine and the so-called “easy start” system.

This time I followed the salesman outside, where he poured in a bit of gasoline, and prepared to test it. One easy pull. Ka-chuff. Nothing. A second easy pull. Brrrrrrr. Started right up. Runs quietly. That’s more like it.

We walked out the door with that trimmer. Getting it in the Honda Accord was more of a problem than I had anticipated, particularly inasmuch as I had to pack in a lot of stuff around it for our six-hour drive home the next day.

But guess what? The Stihl doesn’t display the words EASY START prominently anywhere on the tool.

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About Lynn

o Writer and Editor o Computer Technologist o Composer o Ultrarunner
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