How to wind a recoil starter spring

Written by steven douglas
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A recoil starter is a simple mechanical device that has an internal spring that must be kept under tension at all times in order for it to rewind properly. After each "pull" or starting attempt the starter rewinds to the "taut" condition. When the recoil spring separates from the housing or spool, it loses it's tension or "recoil ability" and must be rewound with the correct amount of preset tension. Rewinding a recoil spring starter is an easy task, but requires some eye-to-hand dexterity to get the task accomplished in a minimum amount of time.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Phillps screwdriver set
  • Small slotted screwdriver set
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Eye protection
  • Clean rag

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  1. 1

    Put on eye protection. Unscrew the housing of the recoil starter assembly carefully. Most recoil springs contain at least three mounting screws around the perimeter of the base. Apply slight downward pressure on the starter as you remove the last screw to prevent the spring from snaking out under tension. Place the screws aside where you can find them easily once you have completed the repair.

  2. 2

    Pull the starter assembly free from the device to which it's attached. Remove the tension from the spring completely before attempting to remove it from its housing so that you reduce the chance of an accident. Place your thumb over the spring coils, and gently pry the end-tab of the spring free from the housing detente which secures it. A small slotted-screwdriver works well for this manoeuvre. Remove the spring from its housing.

  3. 3

    Rewind the recoil spring around its hub on the spool until you have tightened it sufficiently. The tighter you wind the spring the smaller it becomes. Depending on the design, you might need to wind it fairly tightly so that it will fit back inside the housing. Wind until the size and tension are adequate to allow for insertion into the housing.

  4. 4

    Keep a very firm grip on the wound up spring and then place it back in its housing very carefully. You might need a pair of needle-nosed pliers to help you replace the spring in the housing before it unravels. This has to be done in a firm yet delicate manner to prevent the spring from unravelling.

  5. 5

    Use a small tool such as a hex wrench or a small Phillips screwdriver to assist you in holding the wound recoil spring in place, while you try to fix it in its housing. The spool around which you have wound the spring usually has holes that permit you to align it with the housing.

  6. 6

    Verify that the outer end of the spring is located within its detente on the inside of the housing, which will maintain the wound spring tension. Replace the housing carefully onto the device, making sure that you have aligned it correctly. Secure the housing in place with the mounting screws, and tighten them firmly.

Tips and warnings

  • Some applications allow for an alternative to Steps 3 and 4: Coil the spring directly inside its housing. Once you have coiled it fully, place the spool over it. Make sure that you align them correctly.
  • Use caution when you rewind a recoil starter spring. Serious injury may occur if the taut spring jumps free and strikes you during installation. Use proper technique when winding and reloading a recoil starter spring. The wrong technique may cause it to break while you are attempting to repair it.

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