Pros:It helps when it's working
The Bottom Line: If you're handy, you can keep it working. If not, many happy returns! (to the store you bought it from)
If you enjoy wrenching on an appliance while mosquitoes are eating you alive, then you have found utopia!
But to be fair - This thing actually does work when its working, that is. This is my fourth year with this thing, and when its running, it really helps cull the voracious hoards. The problem stems from the fact that its rarely working, and when its not well, the old adage about alligators and draining the swamp comes to mind.
Were in Northern Minnesota. If we could somehow convince tourists (that dont have mosquitoes) that these little devils are an experience, wed all get rich working 3 months out of the year. Three months is all the warm weather we get each year, so you run four or five tanks through this machine a year and then store it in the shed until next June. The first year, it worked great. The second year, I set it up, hit the starter, and nothing. It was dead. I Called the factory, they sent a new engine for the machine with no hassles at all Im back in business. The next year, same thing no start, they sent a free new engine, no problem, if you discount waiting for the thing to arrive. That one lasted 2 tanks of propane, and died as well, so they sent another free engine.
Its great customer service, but still horribly un-handy wading through clouds of mosquitoes for two weeks while you watch for the FedEx truck like a dog on the porch. This year, I had no delusions of getting another free engine. When speaking with a customer service representative last year, he explained the real problem: It seems that the gas jet in this device has an orifice about the diameter of a human hair. It clogs so easy, its not funny. To that end he gave me these tips:
1. Get the cleanest propane you can.
2. Keep the unit running if possible. The unit clogs when gunk settles in the orifice and it cools.
3. When you get a fresh propane tank, put it on your gas grill and run the tank five minutes before you attach the tank to this unit. Most impurities get dislodged from the tank during the first five minutes, and the grill can pass them easily.
Since my unit was already dead - and when my carcass is in jeopardy, I can be pretty handy - I took the unit apart. It took no time to trace the gas line to the bottom of the combustion chamber, and by unscrewing a single set screw, and disconnecting the gas line, I was soon looking at the problem. I used grain alcohol to clean the brown goo off the flame-side of the jet, and discovered that the orifice was smaller than I could see without a magnifying glass. It was way smaller than the smallest jet-cleaning tools, so dont bother purchasing a set for the job.
I poured more grain alcohol (100 proof) into the cavity of the jet, and let it sit for about a half-hour. It still didnt open up, so I put a few more drops in the cavity, and pressed the rubber tip of the air compressors air gun into the open end, shooting 100 psi air into the jet. Youll need safety glasses if you do this, the alcohol sprays back with a fair amount of force. That got the job done, I put the machine back together and it took off like a chicken running from Colonel Sanders.
It amazes me that a $300 machine is so easily laid to waste by a $10 part that appears custom made, and isnt offered by the manufacturer. Of course, they dont want you playing with the business end of the gas line anyway, but a little better engineering could go a long way here. If I recall, gas burn rate is a function of pressure and orifice size. If you changed the regulator to offer a lower pressure, you could open up the gas jet wider. Or if you oriented the jet horizontally so the gunk doesnt form on the nozzle, you might just have something. Maybe somebody will see fit to create a retro-fit for this thing.
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