I proudly purchased one of those nasty little 2kW generators from Aldi's figuring it would get us by if we lose power after a storm. The only thing I didn't count on is that I'm the only one in the family that can pull start a small engine. When I conducted "Generator 101" at my house I found out that my petite wife and girls didn't have the practice or strength I had and that they couldn't get it started. This instructable details the solution to the problem that my daughter and I built. It is a pedal that one pushes down using the strong muscles in one's legs. It redirects the energy to pull the cord for the Generator.
=== UPDATE 2013-03-04 ===
When we had our last power outage my lovely wife humored me by making an honest AND SUCCESSFUL attempt at starting the generator with the Step'n'start. I was very pleased :)
=== UPDATE 2012-07-26 ===
Many thanks for all of the encouragement. It's really overwhelming with the >10,000 hits in 3 days! We found that the 1/4" bolts for the pulleys are not beefy enough, so please use 3/8 if you build one of these. We had to change them out. We have also found that the 4-to-1 ratio is a bit much and that 3-to-1 works better for our generator. My wife was not successful in trying it tonight, but her hip was bothering her and her electricity wasn't out. Please do let me know how yours turn out if you make one. As an aside, I'm also trying to encourage work ethic in my kids and I've received some PM's about selling them. I asked Emily if she was willing to make them for $30 each and she seemed tickled at the idea. So we are considering selling them via ebay if you lack the resources needed to make one. I think a cottage business where the reward (money) is proportional to the effort invested would be a great way to instill work ethic AND show how an idea and being industrious can pay off. I did check USPS and from Ohio to California it was < $27 shipping. If there is interest and we'll set it up. Again, many thanks for all of the feedback. She thought it was really cool to read it.
Thanks, yeltrow & helper :)
=== End update ===
2 ea. 2x4's 48" long
2 ea. 2x4's 18" long
1 ea. Hinge
1 ea. 3/8x9" (8 can work) bolt
1 ea. 3/8x3" bolt
1 ea. small piece of plywood or OSB 12" x 12" or so for the gussets.
22 ea. 1-5/8" Long Drywall screws
10 ea. 1/4x1.5" Lag Bolts to hold the hinge
10 ea. 3/8 cut washers.
10 ea. 1/4" cut washers
2 ea. 3/8" Lock nuts
4 Pulleys (or make your own from Corean countertop scraps or a cutting board or something else). 3/8" bore.
5ft 3/16" Diamond braided rope
3/8" PVC pipe
7/16" Socket Wrench
3/8" Drill Bit
1" Spade Drill Bit
2" Hole Saw if you make your own pulleys
Step 1: Determine the Length of Pull of Your Generator
We have to know how much cord is available so we don't rip the cord off the machine. I found I had about 50" of cord. I planned to use 4 wraps of the pulleys with about 12" of pedal travel. 4 wrap x 12 in travel = 48 total inches of travel.