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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

My name is pca42. I've joined up on this fantastic forum, because I am currently undertaking a university project on small, V-Twin petrol engines found in lawn mowers and other small horticultural equipment. The plan is to find out what the next generation of mower engines need to have. What should the mower engine of 2025 have that today's don't?

I would be interested to hear your opinions on the current range offered by the main manufacturers, such as Kawasaki, Kohler, Honda, Briggs and Stratton etc and what are the advantages and disadvantages for each manufacturer.

Cheers! I look forward to finding out what you think.
 

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Welcome!
 

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Hello, and welcome to MLF. Happy to have you choose us as one of your contributors to your research study.

The manufacturers that you mention are all currently producing fine engines, and have histories of having built some of the best small engines for powering outdoor power equipment. I would suspect that we will see more engine manufactures entering the market in the future in addition to those already named.

Environmental concerns will most likely play as much of a role in determining tomorrow's engines requirements as the consumers interests and demands will.

To that end I would imagine that fuel injection and water cooling will be incorporated into the engines of tomorrow, as well as more hybrid technologies.

So far as the consumer is concerned, features that enhance the ease and economy of maintenance, as well as the overall cost of operation, such as fuel consumption, would probably be at the top of the list.
 

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Welcome to the site! Glad to have you here, and I hope you can find plenty of info on the topic you're researching. :ditto: I'm pretty certain that fuel system refinements and changes are going to be the most predominant shifts in small engine design over the next few years. You can already see fuel injected models coming from most of the manufacturers you describe. This clearly is a result of greater demands for efficiency and a reduction in emissions. We will be sure to see many alterations in the way engines are designed as these operational demands become more and more prioritized. As Bruce says, we all hope for new competitors in the small engine market, and hope to see these arise in the drive towards next generation engine designs. Anyway, pleased to have you onboard, and feel free to get all the info you can here! :ThumbUp:
 

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Welcome and thanks for joining! It's great that you've taken an interest in the subject enough to research it and better yet, requested the opinions from MLF. :cool

There's been some excellent thoughts and points of interest that have been mentioned thus far by the guys.

I will also add that fuel injection (FI) will be more widely seen in the outdoor power equipment (OPE) market in years to come. I think that will be one of the primary changes that we will see for the future of them.

1. As it has already been said, FI will be used mainly to meet stricter environmental regulations as the design is simply more efficient than a carburetor.

2. I also think that FI will eliminate a lot of hassle and problems that cannot be met with a caburetor. One of the most commonly asked questions that we receive at the start of spring goes like this. "My mower was performing excellent last year but now it won't start. What do I do?"
More than likely, the gas was not drained or ran out of the system prior to storing it over the winter. The old gas has likely clogged the carburetor causing it not to start. In their defense, you can't blame the owner if they haven't done the research on winterization.

My point is that just like with out modern cars, FI is more user friendly. You simply turn the key and go (in this case, pull a cord), no matter the temperature or circumstance. Carburetors can be more difficult for less experienced folks because it requires more input from them ie; starting and setting the choke, running the gas out prior to storage etc etc. Fuel injection is more automatic in the sense that it has a computer telling the engine how to run and requires less human involvement in order to do so.

Of course like with anything the FI systems will have to really be perfected in order to work right and be successful. Think R&D big time. Lawnmowers and OPE in general have a really difficult and hard life if you think about it. They are subjected to lots dust, can be thrown around, banged up against things and have to sit for many months at a time without being used. I could see a company such as Bosch, a company who designs a lot of fuel injection systems for cars, offering a standard system to OPE manufactures. This would be a tried and true system that OPE manufactures would buy and adapt to their engines. I could see this as a more cost efficient way to go versus individual manufactures designing their own particular FI systems in house because the R&D will already have been done and probably eliminate a lot of recalls because of it. In this sense, parts would be easier too because it would be standardized based system.

Definitely keep us updated on your project. I love the subject, as do many others here and it will be interesting to follow along. If you choose to grab direct quotes from anybody here, please PM them to request their permission along with stating who and where it came from. I'm sure anyone here would be obliged, but it is proper procedure.


 

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Yes..welcome..I always wonder if the seemingly definite switch to FI for consumer equipment will cause price increases beyond affordable...[battery, computer, sensors, pumps, etc]..all on a low end push mower ?? Or will Tesla enter in the game ?
 

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I think eventually battery and electric motor technology will allow a midsize mower to mow an hour on a charge. That would probably cover at least 75% of residential lawns. Environmental benefits aside it would eliminate a host of maintenance problems like fighting bad gas gumming up carbs and destroying fuel lines. It would be quieter, no clogged air filters and no starters. Most guys my age (60's) grew up fooling with gas engines and can maintain their own lawn equipment but neither one of my sons know the first thing. Driving one into the garage and plugin it up to a charger would be much better for them.
Cannon
 

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In my mind, the engines should be designed to run on very little fuel while delivering a lot of power. Build quality definitely needs to be brought back up to the level of the late 90s and early 2000s. I think the environment would be assisted by fuel injection, and it would allow the engines to be built better as fuel injection can be cheaper than the equivalent carburetor. Also, carburetors can be VERY problematic if left sitting for any period of time.
 

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I must disagree with 2nd part of Vortec's post..,,as I see no way that FI will be affordable to homeowners on residential mowers...Fear that crazy high cost may actually promote more homeowners to "give up" and choose landscaper services...which I feel pollute much more [not even considering the pollution of transporting with their trucks all day]..IMO
 

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Well, EFI is definitely far too expensive and complicated for homeowner use at present, but recent developments have resulted in design simplifications which will eventually reduce the system cost. The technology is still in its infancy in the OPE market, but as time goes on, the cost will come down and we will likely see fuel injection spread to more applications. It's sort of like the outboard motor industry. Over the last decade, fuel injection has steadily appeared on lower and lower horsepower outboard motors. My grandfather has a 40 HP 747cc 4-stroke Yamaha outboard that has SMPI fuel injection. A few years ago, no 4-stroke outboard of that displacement or power rating would have had injection. The need for fuel efficiency and lower emissions brought about this shift. For now, the OPE industry is dominated by carbs, which are mechanically simple, reliable if maintained, and inexpensive to produce and repair. However, fuel injection has many benefits, and it will become more inexpensive in the next few years. I think that a reliable fuel injection system would reduce many of the woes of the average homeowner who does not want to dig into a gummed-up carb or have to worry about his fuel system during the off season. It will be especially helpful where Ethanol-blended gas is concerned, as injection systems are less susceptible than carbs to varnishing and degradation, if the proper materials are employed. Either way, the EPA isn't going to stop pushing anytime soon, and fuel injection is cleaner than carburetion. Whatever the obstacles, the industry will need to adapt to the ever more onerous government regulations that will come into place.
 

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Great thoughts, guys! This is great!
 

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Well said motorhead...But thinking pca42's college project for year 2025 V twin engine may be on threshold of switching from internal combustion to electric, and in vain ...If Tesla accomplished what they did with "lap-top" batteries...I can't see why that hasn't yet evolved on mowers..nor whats holding it up over next 10 yrs.....just seems so simple as compared to autos..[disregarding the few cheap attempts made with lead acid bats]..
 

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I'm hoping the IC engine will continue to be the powerplant of choice, as it becomes more modern. To me, electric motors lack interest and personality when compared with gas engines, which make noise and smoke, and have to be diagnosed occasionally; working on electric motors just wouldn't be the same. However, I know most users will want whatever's easiest or cheapest, and would welcome electric powerplants.
 

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To me, electric motors lack interest and personality when compared with gas engines, which make noise and smoke, and have to be diagnosed occasionally; working on electric motors just wouldn't be the same. However, I know most users will want whatever's easiest or cheapest, and would welcome electric powerplants.
Agreed with all your thoughts there.

I think when an alternative power source becomes more mainstream for OPE, their gas equivalents will still be widely used by many folks who appreciate them. For some it will be simply because they've never used anything different and don't want to make the switch and for others who see things from the hobbyist angle. It would be similar to compare enthusiasts today who own and drive classic cars.
 

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To me, electric motors lack interest and personality when compared with gas engines, which make noise and smoke, and have to be diagnosed occasionally; working on electric motors just wouldn't be the same. However, I know most users will want whatever's easiest or cheapest, and would welcome electric powerplants.
Then there is the argument that the plants that produce the electricity to power those electric motors are pumping out their bit of smoke and pollution so that any benefit gained by the electric motor is off set by the pollution produced to power them. Disposal of batteries used to power rechargeable electrics is an environmental concern as well.

I have read that the EPA estimates that 17 million gallons of gasoline a year are spilled by persons filling their lawn mowers, and an estimated 600 million gallons is used mowing lawns!

Maybe what we actually need is a more sheep, but I'll settle for a quiet, water cooled, fuel injected twin IC that's easy to maintain. Oh, and has a large fuel fill opening so I don't contribute to that 17 million gallons spilled.
 

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Then there is the argument that the plants that produce the electricity to power those electric motors are pumping out their bit of smoke and pollution so that any benefit gained by the electric motor is off set by the pollution produced to power them. Disposal of batteries used to power rechargeable electrics is an environmental concern as well.
Sounds just like the Prius argument!

I have read that the EPA estimates that 17 million gallons of gasoline a year are spilled by persons filling their lawn mowers, and an estimated 600 million gallons is used mowing lawns!
Those are a couple of really interesting facts, especially the spillage part. It wonder how many gallons of fuel spillage one does as an individual in a lifetime.

Oh, and has a large fuel fill opening so I don't contribute to that 17 million gallons spilled.
Agreed, a large fuel filler opening can never be over appreciated no matter the machine type.
 

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Personally, I dunno where the EPA can get estimated "gallons of gas spilled refueling", unless their drones are overhead when I fill up my mower......But I'm sure that crazy high 17 million gallons helped to "Mandate" the switch to those wonderfull, easy to use, ventless gas cans we can only buy now...In contrast...think I recall reading that more spillage now, as users get disgusted and unscrew the pour spouts...
 

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I kinda expect to see a progression in the outdoor power equipment industry to evolve much as we saw occur in the automotive. What I expect is to first see some type of more advanced electronic ignition, something I first remember seeing on Chrysler products about 1972. Then in the 80's we saw electronic fuel injection become the norm. Today, hybrid technology is not the norm, but seems to be surprisingly reliable. Imwont be surprised to see those technologies start to appear first in commercial grade equipment, then becoming common if not the norm. The homeowner adaptation will lag, but until costs, longevity, reliability or mandates get into the picture they won't be common.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi all,

Thanks for taking the time to share your opinions. There's some really good and well justified ideas and suggestions that I can research in detail for my report.
Please keep your ideas coming and let me know if you have read any articles or reports that might help me.
Thanks again for your time.

PCA42
 

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You're welcome, and thanks again for asking for our input. We'll be sure to add our thoughts as they come up, and please let us know of the results of your research.
 
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