|NotTaR of small Gasoline Engines and Rotary Lawn Mowers : Recoil (pull) starter repair
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- Broken starter ropes or failure to retract are both repairs that are
fairly easy. However, the spring can be nasty as it is under tension
(or should be when reassembled). This can be risky if you are not
familiar with the internal construction as you disassemble the unit.
The cause of a broken cord is obvious. The cause for a failure to retract
could be a broken spring, tangled or frayed rope, or some other mechanical
failure. A broken spring will require total disassembly of the starter
mechanism - fortunately there really isn't that much involved.
With some designs, it is possible to replace the cord without fully
disassembling the starter mechanism - by threading the cord in and
tying a not in the end - but after rotating it several turns to put
the proper tension on the spring. This is relatively safe but may
be frustrating as 3 hands are sometimes needed.
Where safe disassembly is not obvious, I would recommend that you refer
to a book on lawn mower or small engine repair from the library or the
service manual for the mower, if possible. You may be able to find specific
step-by-step instructions which will minimize your risk of injury from
an encounter with an uncontrolled spring.
- When the rope pulls out and retracts normally - but doesn't do anything
else - the most likely cause is a problem with the one-way clutch. This may
be part of the spring-rope assembly - usually removable as a unit - or
attached to the flywheel. The most common problems are gummed up
lubrication or a broken spring or other damaged or worn parts. For common
- On Briggs & Stratton starters, the clutch is often part of the flywheel
nut assembly. The entire unit can be easily removed and replaced if it
fails to engage reliably.
- On Tecumseh starters, pawls in the starter assembly engage a serrated cup
held in place by the flywheel nut. Check for damaged parts or gummed up
WARNING: Take extreme care should you need to disassemble the portion of the
starter that includes the mainspring - that can be nasty.
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