Paracord is incredibly strong stuff and people use it for all kinds of things. In a pinch, it can be used to replace just about anything, and in my case it got my snowblower running again during a 2 day blizzard.
I got tired of fixing my old snowblower, so I had to junk it. A friend gave me a 2 stage Toro snowblower that hadn't run in a few years. This machine is very similar to the Snapper I had because they are both about the same age and have Tecumseh engines. I went through all the same steps I did in my previous Instructable, including replacing the pull cord. Unfortunately, the replacement pull-cord that I bought was very brittle and during the blizzard this weekend I snapped the cord several times. Each time I rewound and repaired the pull-cord, each time it got shorter, but it was a blizzard and I just had to make it work. Finally the cord broke and I was left with a comically small pull-cord remnant.
I tried to think of something I had laying around that would work, but most of the twine and rope I have doesn't lay flat enough, resist fraying and have a thin enough diameter to be used as a pull-cord. Then I remembered I had some paracord that I had been saving for a craft project with my daughters. (In a pinch you could even unbraid a survival bracelet and have enough cord to replace your pull cord.)
Step 1: Tools and Materials
I have already done this 4 or 5 times in the past few days, so here is my method that worked the best.
Tools and Materials:
A cutting thing
A clamping thing
A grabbing thing
A poking thing
Step 2: Replacing
After you remove the cord reel, the remains of the old cord will probably still be stuck inside. Use your grabby thing of choice to pull out the old cord and hopefully it didn't wind itself in a knot inside the reel, I used some extra long needle nose pliers.
Once the old cord is out, most people say to use it as a template and cut a new length of cord to match the length. The problem is that when the cord snaps, frays and unravels it is hard to tell what the original length is. If the cord ends up too short, you won't like it at all. What I did was grab the rope and pulled it through the other hand until my arm was roughly extended in a full pull and my other hand was roughly where the top of the motor would be. This should give you a reasonably sized cord, you can even pad it a little, if you really need to make it shorter later you can make a new knot on the handle side. You can heat treat the cut end if you want, it will make it easier to thread it through the holes.
These reels are spring loaded, so when the cord goes inside, the load is released on the spring. You need to wind it back up. I have read different things about the correct tension on the reel. Some people say 6 turns, others say turn it until it's hard to turn and back off one half turn. I used a small hand clamp to keep the reel from unwinding, but I have also seen people stick a screwdriver between the fan vents and the spokes of the pulley.
Line the holes up between the reel and the outer shroud and try to feed the cord through. Once the cord is through both holes, make a small knot on the inside end of the rope and pull it tight. Thread the pull handle onto the other end of the rope (you can employ the pokey thing here if necessary). I tied the end in a small overhand loop that will tuck away in the hollow of the handle.
Step 3: Finish
Putting the cord back on is as easy as you would expect. If you need to grab a rubber mallet, knock yourself out, but don't hit anything too hard.
I used this replacement cord for about a day and a half and it is still completely intact. The replacement I picked up at the store snapped 4 times while I only pulled on it around 30 times. This is a pretty routine maintenance job and I don't see myself buying the replacement cords anymore. I think next time I replace a cord I'll just use paracord instead. I especially like the custom flash that it adds to the snowblower. Maybe it needs some chrome trim pieces now...