Small Engine Rewind Starter Pull Cord and Handle Replacement




Introduction: Small Engine Rewind Starter Pull Cord and Handle Replacement

I recently came into the possession of an extremely used snowblower (thanks Scott). It came with an electric start, but without a pull-cord. It must have been pulled out, or snapped but I didn't mind much, that is until the electric start no longer engaged whilst attempting to dig us out during our latest batch of Canadian snowstorms.

After shoveling our driveway, I decided that a redundant starting mechanism on the decrepit snowblower was definitely my ticket out of further back pain. (Electric starter repair/replacement might be my next instructable.) I also had to fabricate a handle since I wasn't about to fork over any money for a plastic handle.

As it turns out, the only disassembly was to remove the rewind starter housing from the snowblower (4 bolts).

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Step 1: Tools/Materials Required

I used the following tools to complete my task:

1. Hot Glue Gun (optional, I just like to glue stuff)
2. Sharp Knife
3. Lighter (please be careful with fire, do not use this near the snowblower or any other source of gasoline)
4. Locking Pliers and Drill Bit (I have yet to aquire a free drill, so I improvised)

Materials needed for Repair:

1. Dowel for replacement handle.
2. Latex Cork
3. The new pull cord. (I found some snowmobile pull cord at my favorite hardware store)

Step 2: Remove Old Pull Cord.

I used my needle nose pliers to remove the old length of rope that must have snapped off.

You can discover how the rewind starter operates by turning the pulley both clockwise and counter clockwise. The "dogs" or teeth engage when the pulley is turned counter clockwise.

When attached to the engine they function to grab the interior of the flywheel and turn the engine over, then they retract as the pulley turns clockwise. The "dogs" are angled in a way to minimize the damage caused if they were to fail to retract, or if the cord is pulled again while the engine is operating.

Step 3: Install Replacement Cord

I started by aligning the hole in the housing with the hole in the pulley, and then threaded the cord through both the housing and the pulley using my pliers.

I then tied a knot on the end of the cord I just pulled through.
NOTE: I do believe you are supposed to use a left hand knot on the cord, as my images show...I definitely did not. I intend to fix this when I have time.

I then pulled the cord back out of the assembly and pushed the knot into a recessed area in the pulley with my pliers.

Step 4: Winding the Cord

I then wound the cord into the assembly by turning the pulley clockwise. I could feel the spring click after a few revolutions and continued for about 2-3 more clicks.

I didn't want the cord rubbing the inside of the housing when it was operated and I didn't want to have a pull length that was too short either. (You know the ones that rip the handle from your hand mid pull...haha)

So I found a happy medium at about 3 or 4 turns. I am sure this varies depending on your engine make and model.

Step 5: Making the Handle

I then needed to make a handle large enough to grab with my big mitts on. A loop in the rope may have worked, but I was making this myself and I still need all my fingers for my regular job should my this mechanical endeavor malfunction.

I drilled a hole in the middle in my length of dowel. I eyeballed the location of the could measure if you like.

I had to find a drill bit that was larger than the cord but not too large to allow the knot to pass through. I could have done a prettier job, such as recess the hole halfway though with a larger bit to hide the knot, but I just needed functionality folks...and I only had the one drill bit.

My solution to the fat knot problem was to cut a v-groove from one side of the dowel to reduce the prominence of the knot. It's not like I am going to feel it though the gloves anyway.

Step 6: Prepare the Cork

As you can see in the first image, the housing has a cup like thingy where the cord enters the housing. I assume this is to prevent debris from entering the housing and messing up the innards of the starter.
I decided to make use of an old latex cork to fit into the thingy for that very purpose.

I cut about a half inch off the cork since it needn't be that long. I then drilled a hole through the cork so that I could thread it along my rope before the handle.

Step 7: Thread the Cork and Handle Onto the Cord and Tie the Knot

I then threaded the cork and the handle respectively onto the cord.

Now I wanted to put enough tension on the cord so that the handle wouldn't dangle out of the housing but not enough that the "dogs" were engaged.

When I found the sweet spot, I tied a knot against the handle and test operated the whole assembly.

After I was satisfied with the testing, I then cut and melted the cord with the lighter to prevent fraying.

Then I glued the cork to the dowel to prevent premature separation. I am not sure how well it will last, but it is some due diligence on my part.

If they do separate it may prevent the cord from fully retracting. Keep an eye on it.

Step 8: The Completed Rewind Starter

I now simply have to go back outside and put the starter back on the snowblower and clear some snow from the driveway.

Thanks for reading.

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    6 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    The cord in my lawnmower somehow got its outer fabric cover cut somewhere in the middle of the length, and now the outer fabric bunched up inside just before the hole. Anyone know how I can handle this?


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    yes take the top gard off and get a new pull rope or an old bood lace and replace it.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Good idea on the Instructable. I fix these things all the time and it just becomes second nature that you just never think about passing on the information. Here are a few extra points and tricks of the trade. The knot that most manufacturers use on their new recoils are either the over hand knot, figure of eight, or a slip knot. Depending on how big the hole is and how much room I have will depict what knot I will use. If you cannot find any recoil rope, head to your local small engine repair shop. They will be able to match the rope size (there is about 8 different sizes) and give you the correct length. It's usually 4 feet for a lawn mower and 3 feet for a chainsaw. Also when you are tensioning the rope be sure not to over tension or you will straighten the hooked end on the spring. A simple way to make sure it is not over tensioned is that once you think you have is right and the handle sucks all the way in, continue to turn the rope pulley 1 full turn, if you can do this, it is not over tensioned. and please people only use a light lubricant on it if you must, don't use grease cause it just gums everything up.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the extra details s612, that really helps.