How to replace a yard machine's tiller pull cord

Updated February 21, 2017

Yard Machine makes a variety of lawn and garden equipment, including lawnmowers and rototillers. Some Yard Machine tillers have the tines for digging dirt in front of the wheels, while other models are rear-tine tillers. In either case, the tiller is powered by a small gasoline engine started by pulling on a pull cord wrapped around a spring-loaded pulley. Should that cord break, you can easily replace it in a few minutes with some basic hand tools.

Pull on the black rubber boot covering the tip of the sparkplug to disconnect the sparkplug wire from the sparkplug.

Loosen and remove the bolts that secure the starter shroud onto the engine, using a socket set or wrenches. Lift the starter shroud off the engine and place it upside down on a work table.

Hold the starter shroud securely with one hand and rotate the pulley in the centre of the shroud counterclockwise until it stops turning. Clamp the pulley in place with wide-jaw vice grip pliers.

Pull on the knot in the knot hole near the centre of the pulley with needle-nose pliers and remove the broken section of cord.

Insert the end of the new pull cord (with the handle attached to the other end) into the hole in the starter shroud. Guide the cord into the pulley and toward the knot hole. When the cord appears in the knot hole, grab onto the cord and pull out about a foot of slack.

Tie a knot in the end of the pull cord, then singe the remaining end of the cord with a match to prevent fraying.

Pull on the cord from outside of the starter shroud to seat the knot in the knot hole.

Release the wide-jaw vice grip pliers and allow the cord to recoil around the pulley.

Replace the starter shroud onto the engine, and secure it in place by tightening the bolts you removed in step 2.

Reconnect the sparkplug wire to the sparkplug.


For longer life, always use a pull cord designed specifically to be used in small engine starters.


To prevent the engine from accidentally firing, always disconnect the sparkplug wire from the sparkplug before beginning work on the engine.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket set or wrenches
  • Wide-jaw vice grip pliers
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Matches
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About the Author

Chris Baylor has been writing about various topics, focusing primarily on woodworking, since 2006. You can see his work in publications such as "Consumer's Digest," where he wrote the 2009 Best Buys for Power Tools and the 2013 Best Buys for Pressure Washers.