The Good Ol’ Days
Back when I was a kid, mini-bikes and go-carts were much more popular than they are today. My best guess is that it was because as kids we saw a lot more shade tree mechanics working on their cars than kids do this generation. To paraphrase an old saying, it may have been a “Grease monkey see, grease monkey do” kind of inspiration that got us to scour for tossed lawnmower engines and fit them to junk bikes or an adult-welded pipe frame for some make-believe fun.
Perhaps it’s because I am still that kid from years ago, but I have the habit of picking up every old lawnmower I see left out for trash. I justify this to my wife because I have fixed what needed fixing, given to those in need asking only for a beer in return, and actually made some money in the process,
My best find was a snow blower a neighborhood owner tossed out only because the rope part of the pull starter broke, and the muffler rotted off. I offered to show him a quick fix for the problem, but he declined and said he was just glad to find someone to haul it away. I replaced the starter cord, donned noise canceling headphones, and used it for two winters at my home. When I moved, I sold it for $300---go figure.
But I digress. Back to the point.
An Inexpensive Automotive Teaching Aid
What got me down this memory lane was a recent Project Farm YouTube channel episode where the host did a comparison of small engine 4-stoke gas motors commonly used to replace dead motors on lawnmowers, tillers, power washers, homebrewed emergency power generators, and even the rare minibike or go-cart.
What makes the comparison significant is that you can pay either about $150 at Harbor Freight for a Honda knockoff or you can buy the real thing for $600. Do the math,
But are these much cheaper small engines any good? It turns out they work surprisingly well. And even if one does not, there is some useful learning to be had for a young mind about engine problems such as excessive oil burning, engine tuning, and even an opportunity to show what kind of gradual (or a cascade of catastrophic) engine failure can happen to an engine either through bad design or poor maintenance.
That said, here is the video posted below that is informative enough to make it an easy decision whether to spend $150 or $600 for something that does the same job and could give a young mind an appreciation for car maintenance that can pay off much more down the road with their first (or your) car.
$150 Honda Clone vs $600 Honda? Let’s settle this! Fuel Efficiency, Horsepower, Durability, Starting
For a related article about Harbor Freight engines, here is a must-watch one that you will be sure to enjoy: Harbor Freight Turbo Predator 670cc Dragster Blows Up on Racetrack
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
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