Recoil Starter Lube

This being leaf season, I just discovered that the recoil starter on the hulking 8 HP tangential leaf blower retracts very, very slowly. Having already started the engine, I did one pass around the yard with the pull cord dangling over the handlebar, but that’s not to be tolerated.

The starter mounts on the back of the motor with five screws, so removing it posed no problem at all. Removing the central screw released the friction clutch that helps extend the pawls, exposing the central boss that’s the combination hold-it-all-together point and gritty bearing for the rope spool:

Leaf blower recoil starter
Leaf blower recoil starter

Pulling the rope turns the spool and extends the pawls that engage the crankshaft. After the motor starts, the pawls retract and none of that stuff moves, so there are no high-speed bearings and not much need for strength.

I brushed off some of the larger chunks, worked machine oil around the central post, wiped off & lubed the pawls, took the friction clutch apart & lightly lubed it, put everything back together, and the starter now works fine again; there may be too little friction in the clutch, but that’s in the nature of fine tuning.

The leaf blower Came With The House™ and dates back to the era when Kohler made cast-iron engine blocks. It runs lean on the oxygenated fuel that’s mandated for Dutchess County these days, so it now runs lightly choked.

Tip: before you yank the rope on a small engine, pull it slowly until the crankshaft stops turning freely, then let the rope retract. That positions the piston at the start of the compression stroke with the valves closed, so your next full-strength yank will do the most good.