Step-n-Start - A Motor Pull-Starting Assist for Those that Need a Little Help

Picture of Step-n-Start - A Motor Pull-Starting Assist for Those that Need a Little Help
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 ===

Materials Required:
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

Tools Required:
7/16" Socket Wrench
3/8" Drill Bit
1" Spade Drill Bit
2" Hole Saw if you make your own pulleys
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
piper12342 months ago

just when using power tools is a good idea to tight hair and cover it, so any turning or swinging bit or saw catches it o_O

primosanch5 months ago
This is absolutely ingenious! Thanks for sharing.
brankif1 year ago
Great Job. I had a problem starting some of my small engine equipment after surgery. I hope you like my solution also,
Help. You mentioned they might be for sale on ebay. Can you tell me whether this is the case? If so, under what name (of product or seller)? Very interested in purchasing one for me!
phreddy2 years ago
What a life saver!!!
At the end of the summer I couldn't start my lawnmower nor my Rotivator. Didn't have the strength. Now I will have to look to modify your brilliant idea to suit my needs.
Gooru2 years ago
"As an aside, I'm also trying to encourage work ethic in my kids and I've been asked about selling them."

For a while there, I thought you were talking about selling your kids! The next few sentences were positively hysterical.

The "Step-n-start" is a wonder concept. Nice job.
I was almost too scared to read the rest of that paragraph!
Chucknsc2 years ago
Boss consider yourself very lucky to have such a neat daughter as you have. Count your blessings as I have two sons, neither of which took up my trade as a machinist/fabricater . I have a paid for shop with plenty of equment that I guess when I pass will all be auction off for pennies on the dollar. My two are okay and all, one is a computer tech and the other is a public school teacher. Oh well, again count your blessings .
i take your equipment, no need to auction it. :)
ak47freak2 years ago
I am going to try and make one that is adjustable for my grandparents so they can start the lawnmower, generator, and rototiller all with one ?? "E-Z-Starter?", "Stomp Starter?", "Step Starter?", "Wooden-Standy-Rope-Pully-thingy?"

In typing this i had a thought!!! i know amazing right...

What about relocating the lower set of pulleys to the uprights that hold the upper pulley set, and adding measured holes for the lower set to be relocated to when using it on different equipment such as a lawnmower with a shorter cord pull? like so?
l l \
l l \Rope
l l \
l l-------------------------------------l
Bottom l l O O O O O l TOP
l l-------------------------------------l
................l l.......................................\
................l l.........................................\Rope
................l l...........................................\
................l l-----------------------------------l
Bottom...l l.......O...O.....O....O............O.l Top
................l l-----------------------------------l
p.ingenhoff2 years ago
SUPER Idee. Ob das auch bei einer Motorsäge funktioniert?
Bill WW2 years ago
Love your instructable! My wife had a problem starting our lawnmower, had to buy her another, now we have his/hers lawnmowers. I like inexpensive fixes like yours better.

Can you or somebody tell me how to add the rectangles with pop up text to the photos?
You SHOULD be able to add the rectangles just by dragging a box on the picture. Then a box pops up where you can type in your comment. This does not work perfectly for all systems though. On my Linux tablet, results are iffy.
Thanks for your help with the text rectangles, Miles and Yeltrow.
yeltrow (author)  Bill WW2 years ago
After uploading the images, just click on it and start to drag. It will pop up a box for you to type the mouseover text into. Instructables has a great interface for this type of work -- I wish my company had such a friendly interface to modify our procedure documents....
crispy9122 years ago
This is a great idea and an answer to my situation. I would be very happy to buy one, as I don't have the tools and/or ability to build my own. Your daughter is a gem and you two make a great team!
mainah2 years ago
I wish my "cutie" helper was around to help me but alas, she's way down in Florida.
a2e2 years ago
I think its a great idea that you teach your girl to properly use tools; I bet she is creative, intelligent and you can only expect her to go beyond. Besides, it is a cool way to document the project and to show others that "anyone can do it".
GiveALilBit2 years ago
This is really really smart. Last winter I was stranded in a horrible snow storm, trapped in a house in the woods for 5 days with no power, no food, and no running water. When I found a generator in the garage I was relieved, until after about an hour trying to start the thing, reality set in that I was just not strong enough to start the thing. It was devastating having the thing sit right there, and not be able to use it. Anyone who owns a generator should read your instructable.
chuckyd2 years ago
Who cares if it works? You spent time teaching your child, and that's the real lesson here.
Spokehedz2 years ago
It makes me glad to see parents working through problems with the kids as well... Practical knowledge, given in a practical way.

The project was good too, but honestly I am more happy with the teaching of children.
13blue2 years ago
Boy am I glad you thought of this! and then shared it! Awesome.
i like :)
Awesome! You are the kind of people we need when the zombies come! :)
Quester552 years ago
Great idea, we would try it, but both of us have very limited use of our legs and I have none. But your idea is well thought out , Not to mention the Quality time you spent with your daughter, Believe me, She'll never forget it.
Chadifornia2 years ago
Great job, wish I came up with it. Haha I will be passing this on to all my family. Thanks and keep up the great work.
This idea is awesome and very well documented. I'll be making one for my grandmother who gets a generator from my uncle but doesn't have anyone there to crank the generator all the time.
axiesdad2 years ago
Great Instructable! Thanks for the idea. I"m going to start planning something similar that I can adapt to several different gas powered tools. Yesterday I was fighting with a reluctant chainsaw; a while back it was a balky snowblower. Something like this would make it a lot easier to keep pulling the starter over and over.
f5mando2 years ago
Very smart design and device. I also applaud your involvement of your female sprog. Great stuff! Thanks for sharing and explaining so well, too.
Gordyh2 years ago
I'll have to build some thing like this for my dad, who at 72 has a hard time starting his weed trimmer.

The only thing I might add is some light duty cross bars, to just clear the pulley's. In an attempt to keep the rope on the pulley's while moving it around from storage to where needed. Just an idea for those who may have trouble bending over to restring the rope to the pulley's.

I also applaud your success at keeping the little one actively involved and thinking ;-)
digitjim2 years ago
Really smart, I like your thinking.
hammer98762 years ago
Great job empowering your ladies. May I suggest, though, that a hat is not just a fashion accessory? It also keeps hair away from power tools.
Does the rope get int he way of your leg?
I wonder if you could turn it to face the pull starter on the tall side...
Im not understanding the need for a ratio when using ones leg to start.
Dig it though.
Good idea.
Id rather rip a string than get more slap scars from pullstarter backfires.

Ive kind of wanted to bring back a winder & spring start back.
I believe it's "gear up" pulley so that it pulls the rope a greater distance than your leg moves.
This is great, now my wife has no way of getting out of mowing the lawn.
Mike732 years ago
We usually don't have such heavy storms and power outages here, but if we would still be in the US, I would most likely have such a thingy, too. And I bet I would make a rig like yours, as my wife and my little one couldn't get it started either.
Great solution.
Mimikry2 years ago
Simply brilliant!
l8nite2 years ago
love the fact that you're teaching your daughter how to use power and hand tools. My grown daughters can change a tire or the oil in their car, rebuild their back deck, lay a tile floor or most recently totally remodel a store space by tearing down and rebuilding walls and hanging shelving and the project you shared is really cool !
heathbar642 years ago
this is the kind of genius I appreciate. using your intelligence to solve everyday problems.
rondust2 years ago
Really smart, I like your thinking.
Its good to see you are teaching your little girl how to use tools and how to construct, kids are way too sheltered these days.

Got to build me one as well.
AND I thought it could be utilised for the old lawn mower with some slight mods. No more shoulder strains.
pghjim2 years ago
Brilliant and simple. One of those, "Why did I think of that?" projects!
rimar20002 years ago
WOW, I have exactly the same problem, with a cheap 2.2 KW Shimura generator. Your solution could be my solution. Thanks for sharing it.
I love these photos. That's a great assistant you have!
richelton2 years ago
You made your own pulleys. Wow, I am impressed. Good job.
galadriel2 years ago
How immensely clever, well done.