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We have been experiencing the Cottonwood trees dropping their "debris" heavily the last week plus. Yesterday, while mowing one lawn, I noticed how much the cooling fan on the ExMark Lazer zero turn mower picked up the tree debris while mowing just over one acre. The engine cover was clean when I started and looked like this, when i finished mowing.

dirtyfan.jpg


As you can see, I have unbolted the protective cover, removing the (3) 10mm bolts. When I stopped the mower after finishing the lawn, here is what the temp reading was at the engine crankcase, just below the dipstick location, using an infrared temp gun.

hightemp.jpg


I cleaned the fan using a wire brush and my compressor to not only get the surface, but also blow out the entire engine shroud around the upper portion of the engine. I put the cover back on and went out and mowed another lawn, away from the cotton woods trees and then I returned to the same location and took the engine temp reading again.

Note, I took the clean photo as I was putting the cover back on after taking the air measurement again and then I wanted to blow out under the shroud again, just to make sure there was nothing under the engine cover. The bolts were all returned and tightened properly.

Note the small engine model plate shown in the lower corner of the photo. Make sure to open that cover by removing at least one bolt and swinging the plate out of the way to permit you to blow the clean air under the engine shroud. There was quite a bit of the cotton wood debris up under there as well................

cleancoolingfan.jpg



and the engine temp was noticeably lower with the clean cooling fan cover and screen.

low temp.jpg


Thirteen degrees cooler, shooting the same location on the crank case, just below where the dip stick tube inserts.

templocation2.jpg



Interestingly, the muffler temp (taken in the center of the muffler) was within 15 degrees of the crankcase temp on each measure of the engine temps. When the crankcase was cooler due to the increased fresh air flow, the muffler temp was also cooler by nearly the same temp difference.

Make sure to check the air cooling source on ALL engines, whether they are air cooled or liquid cooled and using a radiator. The obstruction of the cooling source on any engine will raise engine temps and likely in the long run, shorten its useful life, if not at a minimum, increase wear on the engine.

By the way, the debris on the cooling fan fins would not simply blow off the cooling fan completely, with the compressed air, as it was packed very tight to the cooling fan. A small wire brush to loosen the debris simply brushed in the opposite direction of the engine rotation, made a big difference in its complete and easy removal.

Recently, I was at my friends small engine sales and service shop when he was tearing down an air cooled engine on a commercially used zero turn. The operator had allowed the cooling fan to completely plug and it ended up overheating the engine and causing engine failure. The operator wiped out a $1,900 Kawasaki Engine by not paying attention to the engines air flow.

The cooling fan picture at the top which is clogged with the cotton wood debris is from mowing 1.5 acres in about 60 minutes of time, so it doesn't take a great deal of time to accumulate this debris. Without the benefit of an engine temp gauge, you have to keep an eye on the cooling sources to make sure air flow is unimpeded. Also, don't forget to check the cooling and air flow sources for hydro drive systems and any other cooling methods to keep them properly functioning.........
 

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Good and timely post @SulleyBear

Another thing to watch in the Spring when taking motors out of storage is to check to make sure the cooling fins under shrouds are clear of mouse houses. They too will abate air flow and cause hot spots on heads causing serious motor damage.

Small oil leaks on air cooled motors need to be addressed too as the oil will attract dirt and eventually insulate the motor causing uneven cooling and FIRES!
 

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last Sunday wife and I were clipping our dogs in the garage and it looked like it was snowing with all the cottonwood droppings blowing around.
 

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Good catch! Glad you knew to watch for the clogging and caught it in time.

Years ago I saw a Sterling medium duty truck that was running warm, not overheating but close. Turns out the cottonwood fluff had built up between the charge air cooler and radiator, was literally like a wool blanket! Reminder to watch for this on trucks and tractors with radiator "stacks".
 

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1997 Rokon Trail-Breaker; 1999 John Deere 4100HST w/410 loader; 2014 Grasshopper 930D w/72" deck
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The frickin' cotton pluffs floating everywhere and plugging up things like radiators was one of the main reasons why I had the 3 cottonwoods on my property dropped earlier this year.

Also, while I'm not one to plug products, due to the nature of this thread I feel compelled to suggest that everyone buy a Radiator Genie - a pair of 18" long aluminium nozzles with angled tips (one for air & one for water) designed specifically for radiator cleaning.

I suspected BS when I first saw the thing but was freaking about excessive heat at the time on my 930D Grasshopper mower. It was running too hot too quickly; to the point where I worried that I had been sold a lemon. A trip to the dealership for service and it was still zooming into the red - something my old 721D had never done. I chanced on the Radiator Genie thing during an Amazon search. Feeling I had nothing to lose, I bought one.

Lemme tell you, during the first use I was sold. That air attachment blew out dozens of literal clots of packed-in dirt & dust from between the cooling fins. I felt ashamed that it was so bad, but I didn't know; I always used a small air nozzle to blow off the radiator after mowing, thinking I had cleaned it as good as it could be. I was so wrong. I use the Genie air attachment after every mowing now and unless I get into really dusty areas the temp rarely rises higher than first 1/3 of the way into the green section of the temp gauge - even on sunny humid days with no breeze and temps in the mid to upper 90's.
 
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