Well, it had to happen at some point I guess, but having it happen so early since the creation of my little mowing business has thumped me.
Over the weekend I started the ute, to find it out of the blue running extremely rough. Then I noticed oil smoke and my heart sank. Sure enough it has emptied the engine oil out of the rocker cover, after what appears to be a slack timing chain went rogue and smashed a hole through it. The cause? Massively thick sludge in the engine preventing the chain tensioners to work properly. It looks as though the previous owner may have dumped some thickening agent in there at some point. It was so thick that it had even accumulated just inside the oil filler cap, out of sight. The mechanic and I were scraping out heaps of the stuff.
Unfortunately the costs of either repairing or replacing the engine have me looking at whether I can keep going with this mowing caper, only a year since I started. Business has been growing well, but not well enough yet to throw thousands of $$ towards this sort of repair so soon.
Anyway, that's my vent for now. Still weighing up the options, and will know which direction I am facing once I get some repair quotes. If the costs end up too high then I might be selling the gear and looking at getting back into my old trade, making and repairing jewellery (something I haven't done for a while, but really enjoy).
It's a shame, as I have been really enjoying mowing for fun and profit.