“Lost in the Mixture's Black Hole”
10 August 1999
Everything fades so quickly now and so I must try to capture the essence before it fades completely.
2 + 2 = 4. Actually, 2 apples + 2 apples = 4 apples. 2 apples + 2 oranges does not = 4 apples or 4 oranges.
High speed jet, needle value, idle speed jet, intake manifold.
Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to explore the world of carburetors. Again! Although I have had to work on carbs, as I call them, several times in the past and thought, perhaps I was done forever with them, apparently I did not learn all I could or should have out of my other carburetor experiences and so was given another chance. This time, I think I got it.
You do not see real carburetors much any more. Only on small engines. The particular carburetor I was presented with is time is on my 5 year old lawn tractor.
Several weeks ago, the lawn tractor engine began a surging action where it would run and then try to die out only to the speed up again and then try to die out again. I could stop this “surging” by choking the carb almost closed, which told me that I had to enrich the fuel, air mixture.
Mixture? 2 apples + 2 apples = 4 apples. But 1 gasoline + 10 air = burn, power and exhaust.
And so I began my effort to repair the carb by taking it completely off the tractor and inspecting and then cleaning the outside. Then I completely rebuilt the carb with new needle value, gaskets, high speed jet removal and cleaning and finally blowing cleaner through all those tiny homes in the carb body.
Assemble, mount on tractor, start and ......still surging.
Perhaps some small passage way is clogged and only needs a high speed clean? I increase the revolutions per minute (rpm) of the engine to well beyond its normal running speed and then back off to normal. No. No change. I then increase rpm again for several minutes and again back off to no change in surging behavior.
Off comes the carb again and again completely apart and adjust float setting on the needle value and again blow out all passage ways and again assemble and mount.
The engine starts fine again but after a minute or less, it begins surging again. This time, sitting on the tractor and leaning over the engine compartment, I again increase engine rpm by forcing the throttle linkage and I look down into the carb throat and watch gasoline being sprayed into the throat of the carb.
I am now watching and feeling and listening and trying to use some sense I cannot name to somehow, pinpoint the problem. Down into the throat of that carb black hole I stare and then, some earthquake shift, some planetary misalignment as I somehow get pulled down into the black hole of mixtures.
At first, it is mathematics. Apples and oranges and what numbers represent and do not represent and then I begin to see mixture everywhere. Trees: the burn, power and exhaust of soil, air, sun and water in a mixture of mathematics only chaos theory or fractals can describe. Then deeper, at a more atomic level with mixtures of various atoms making elements and dancing together as they flow down some black hole.
We are in a black hole where mixing is occurring. Flowing and mixing. All dances as it swirls around the throat of the beast.
Mixtures of emotions and thoughts and concepts. 2 + 2 and colors mixing and love and hate mixing in proportions I can only guess at and the precision or lack of it in the mixing amazes me and down deeper I go into the black hole of the carb. Visible gasoline and invisible air being pulled down and away and I can not stop myself from staring and being pulled in.
Surging. The surging is a mixture problem. Too many apples in the world and so I cut off the engine and go eat one. Does not help.
Connections and swirling mixtures in a dance through the black hole, which pulls apart and combines in combinations never before seen and which can only exist in this space and time.
I think of mixed drinks and genetic mixtures. I am the product, the sum, the mixture, of thousands of years of mixing and what equation, what mathematics, can define and predict the next element in the sequence?
As I said, it is all fading now, the trip and fall into the black hole of that carb mixing throat but after glows remain even now and I have leaned something at some deep atomic level, I cannot convey in this mixture of words.
And, yes, I finally, got the mower to stop surging. In the end, I had an air leak at one of the intake manifold mountings. Or so I want to believe because to believe that it was really surging because there were one too many apples in the universe or hairs on some dog in China scares me and yet, I know, that these were the real reasons the engine surged and called me to look and listen and think and feel and ponder.
We are in the influence of a black hole, moving and mixing our way deeper and deeper into the cylinder of the universe.
All we are is mix and then burn, power and exhaust.