How to Troubleshoot Roto Start Nitro Engines

Written by michelle course
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How to Troubleshoot Roto Start Nitro Engines
Nitro vehicles use combustion engines to propel them forward. (Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Nitro radio-controlled (RC) vehicles are considered more difficult to maintain than their electric counterparts. The complexity of the nitro engine is sometimes tricky for novice users to understand because of the extent to which it requires adjustments and tuning. Though rotary start engines are generally easier to start than other nitro engine setups, there are difficulties you may face when trying to start it up for the first time. Learning how to troubleshoot your nitro rotary engine will ensure that you're never stuck with a cold engine at the next race.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Nitro engine
  • Rotary starter box
  • Glow plug
  • Screwdriver
  • Battery charger
  • 7.2v battery

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  1. 1

    Replace the glow plug, since this is often the reason behind an engine that fails to start. Unscrew the glow plug from inside the cooling head, then pull it out of the engine. Insert a replacement glow plug, and tighten it inside the cooling head. The cooling head is the slatted metal portion located at the top of the engine, it is responsible for dissipating the heat generated by the engine.

  2. 2

    Recharge the battery inside the rotary start box. In many cases, the battery is not powerful enough to turn over the engine and ignite the glow plug; a fully-charged battery is essential for a functional rotary box. Clip the battery onto the charger, then reinstall it into the rotary box once it is fully charged.

  3. 3

    Clear the engine of excess fuel by removing the glow plug, and flipping the entire vehicle upside down. Spin the flywheel to rotate the piston inside, ejecting any fuel caught inside the combustion chamber. Replace the glow plug, then try to start the engine as normal.

  4. 4

    Release the engine from Top Dead Center (TDC). Sometimes the engine piston gets caught at the 12 o'clock position, which is referred to as TDC. To release the piston, insert a screwdriver into the flywheel, then use it to turn the flywheel until it releases the engine from TDC.

  5. 5

    Check that all the necessary wires are connected for the rotary start box to function. Check that both red and black wires are connected to the motor, then check that the blue glow-plug ignitor is also connected. Connect a fully-charged battery to the box, then check to see if the status LED light illuminates green.

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