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Engineering Students to Hold Lawnmower Maintenance Clinic

by on April 03, 2014 8:20 PM

Following a long winter that brought ice, snow, and bitter temperatures to Happy Valley, lawn care might be the furthest thing from anyone's mind.

However, with the calendar flipping to spring and the thermometer slowly beginning to rise, it's time to get your lawn mower ready for the growing season.

Luckily, a group of Penn State students is here to help. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) will be holding a Lawnmower Clinic Friday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Agricultural Engineering Building on Penn State's campus, and will continue on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.

For $35, engineering students will power wash the deck of the mower, clear debris from the engine, sharpen the blades, check the spark plugs, remove and clean the air filter, and change the oil. For an additional fee of $15, the club will even pick up and return lawnmowers, exclusively to owners in the State College area.

"People are very appreciative of the service mainly due to the convenience it provides as compared to doing it themselves or having to take the mower to a shop," says Chris Robotham, the event coordinator. "This is especially true for mowers purchased at a place like Lowes or Home Depot who do not provide service for the mowers after selling them."

For the past 12 years, the lawnmower clinic has served as ASABE's biggest fundraiser. According to club president Carson Geib, the number of jobs has increased over time, with approximately 60 walk-ins serviced last year. As of Wednesday evening, 70 people have already pre-registered online.

A team of 15 to 20 students will volunteer on Friday and Saturday, and if the assembly line is moving well, Geib says each job takes roughly 20 minutes to complete. While the mowers show up in all kinds of condition -- from fresh off the assembly line to absolutely terrible (one time, a customer brought in a mower that was held together by pieces of duct tape) -- there is a limit to how much the club will be able to fix.

"Sometimes customers expect us to work magic and fix a mower that is not running," says Geib. "We can sometimes fix those types of issues, but we are not certified mechanics, and simply intend to perform maintenance."

Even if a faulty mower is brought in, Robotham says the team will do its best to get it running before it leaves the shop.

"I would consider it a bonding time for our club members as we work throughout the day, grill and eat meals together," says Geib. "Even though we are working, getting dirty, and waking up at 7 a.m. on Saturday to make sure the job gets done, we usually have a lot of fun."

If you are interested in signing up or learning more about the Lawnmower Clinic, click HERE.

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C.J. Doon is a frequent contributor to Onward State and is a former intern. A Long Island native, Doon is studying print journalism at Penn State.
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