Starting an engine
What is probably the most common item of information we need when we're starting out with an engine for the first time, whether it be our first engine, or a type we've never seen before? How do I start it! While we all like to pretend that when we receive a "new" engine we carefully check it over by taking it apart and verifying it is in a condition to be started, the real story for most of us (me included) is that within minutes of getting it home (or in my case with my first engine I did it where it sat after buying it) we try and make it go. We want to see the satisfying sight of the engine bursting into life to justify the cash and effort we just poured into its acquisition!
This article is the result of a question I posted to the Stationary Engine Mailing list calling for submissions on how people start their various engines. I received a pretty good response, and for my part have contributed starting procedures for each of the engine types I've got running in my possession. Generally speaking, all engines start in approximately the same way - you spin them over until they fire :)... ok so it is not quite that simple with most of them...
LubricationNote all of these starting directions skip one key point - if your engine has external oiling through drop oiler(s) turn them on immediately the engine starts to fire so it does not seize up!. For my oilers I use a drop or two per minute per horsepower. For example for a 3HP engine, I use between 3 and 6 drops per minute. If you are getting a lot of oil thrown around during running you're probably using too much and should cut it back a bit. I test the drops per minute with the engine stopped because often you cannot see the drips when the engine is running because the air pressure in the tube splats the drip all over the inside of the sight glass when it falls. If you have this problem you might try putting a check valve under the oiler, or drilling a hole in the sight feed tube to relieve pressure. Remember to close the oiler when you stop the engine or you'll get covered in it next time you start.
If your engine has grease cups, before starting open each cup and top it off, screw it down until grease appears around whatever part it lubricates, open and top off again. Every hour or so I screw mine in a quarter turn.
Before starting I also go over the engine and oil all the stated oiling points. In addition I put a small amount of oil into each exposed gear and other moving bits (like valve stems, the pivot point on a governor etc.). You don't need much oil, just a very thin film. If your engine is throwing oil around while it is running it is probably getting too much from you!
Enough fuelNearly all the petrol and kerosene directions talk about closing the needle valve after starting until the engine runs clean. You start with a very rich mixture (lots of fuel) which would quickly carbon up an engine and kill it (not permanently!) if left that way and use way too much fuel. After the engine starts firing, slowly close the needle valve a little after each fire until there is no more black smoke coming out of the exhaust while the engine is running. Stop AS SOON AS THERE IS NO SMOKE - DO NOT LEAN IT OF FURTHER! If you make the mixture too lean the engine will run too hot and die (potentially permanently!).
Ok - I have an engine very much like Tilley - it is a 1/2 breed
Review emergency shutdown proceedures in my head.
Open main fuel valve.
Push in on the movable igniter contact several times..This "scrubs" the
Open mixer needle valve one quarter turn, close choke (This is for the old
mixer w/air shutter).
Open cc oiler, adjust drip rate. I've got mine dripping once every ten
seconds. New rings.
Postion spark advance on Webster bracket to the right hand position.(START)
Pull thru several times until mixer is flooded, close mixer needle valve.
Pull thru until engine hits once, quickly open air shutter (just a little)
and needle valve 1/4 turn.
If it hits the second time, you will find yourself smiling.
Move spark advance to the left (run) position.
Adjust air/fuel mixture until exhaust is clear and running nicely..lot's of
After I'm happy that it's running nice..I then add water to the hopper.
Preheating the mixer/head and using hot water in the hopper is permitted if
you weigh in excess of 250 lbs. or you're "Packin'." This really helps to
vaporize the fuel.
To Stop..shut off fuel. Now I don't drain the hopper until water temp. cools
down to approx. ambient. Just a personal thing as I fear hot spots might
develop in head, cyl. piston....open to discusssion.
Go out next day and wipe up the oily mess...forgot to turn that damn oiler
Damn, this is FUN!!
My Commando is VERY hard to start... one of these days I'll be bothered to figure out why...