August 23, 2011
Lawn Mower Wire Cable Repair
Recently the cable which connected my lawn mower's handle to the device's self propel drive snapped right off. The lawn mower in question is a Toro GTS 20043 SR-21S. With a little searching, it seems that this is a rather common occurrence for Toro lawn mowers, or maybe mowers in general. I'm sure the local small engine shop would have been glad to order a replacement cable kit for me that would cost $30+, but here is a simple procedure which should fix the problem for much cheaper.
The self propel cable normally has some small amount of slack when the mower is idle, but when the mower handle is pushed forward, the part connected to the cable is pulled back. A small amount of movement by the handle tightens the wire. Additional push on the handle results in pulling the wire, tightening it further, which engages the self propel.
In the picture you'll see what happened. There is a small plastic loop on the push handle for the mower, which is supposed to be connected to the wire cable. Whatever was attached to the end of the cable as snapped off, leaving the cable unconnected.
To repair this, we'll need a pair of ferrules, which is a fastener which can be used to join two cables. The ferrule we need has two openings, one for each end of wire. It's made of a soft metal, such as aluminum, which can be crimped tight on the cables. You'll need the correct size for the wire, which in my case turned out to be 1/16''. We'll also need a small length of wire cable, of about the same gauge as the existing lawn mower cable.
Both of these can be purchased at your local hardware store. The ferrule and stop set pictured cost $1.25 at a Home Depot, and the store can cut you a length of wire cable, which will probably run at about 25 cents a foot (if they don't just give it to you). They'll both likely be located where they store keeps spindles of wire, chain, rope, etc.
Use the new length of cable to create a "noose" through the plastic handle bar loop where the cable used to be connected. Then use the first of the ferrules to secure the cable as shown in the photo below, so that the "noose" is tight. You'll need to crimp the ferrule tightly, such that the cable can no longer slide through it (more on that below).
Now we have two cable ends that need to be joined, which is where the second ferrule comes in. You'll need to cut off anything left attached to the end of the existing cable, so you are left with a clean end of the wire. Thread the existing wire through one of the ferrule openings, and thread your new length of wire through the other, joining the two. You'll need to crimp the ferrule tightly, while holding the wires so that they are taut in the self propelled handle bar's rest position. This can be a tricky job, and might require two people. Don't worry if you can't get the wires completely taut, a little bit of slack is okay.
Regarding the crimping, there is a special tool that does this. However it's somewhat costly, and you'll likely not need it again. If you can borrow it from a friend, great, otherwise a hammer, a regular screwdriver and a brick or block of wood will do just fine. With the cables in place inside the ferrule, hold it against the brick, and give it a few good poundings with the hammer. Then take the screwdriver, position the flat head on the ferrule between the two wires, and give it some solid taps to further crimp the wires in place.
Here is the finished result. The wire cable is once again connected, and the self propel on the lawn mower works great. And all for about $1.50 in parts.