Starting

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...

Lubrication

Note 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 fuel

Nearly 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!).

Just for a smile...

Quite a few people sent through funny examples - I include them to give you a bit of a laugh, I'm sure if you've ever tried to start a recalcitrant engine, you'll be able to relate and get a bit of a laugh....

Rope start lawn mower - smile version

Submitted by Rob Skinner This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Go to the gas station to get gas.
Put some fresh gas in the tank.
Turn on the choke.
Pull the rope.
Pull the rope.
Break the rope.
Remove starter housing.
Cut finger on coil spring.
Mend laceration with electrical tape.
Go get a beer.
Finish replacement of the rope.
Pull the rope.
Pull the rope.
Pull the rope.
Take out the plug.
Slowly crank over engine.
Replace plug.
Pull the rope.
Pull the rope.
Remember to hook up the plug wire.
Pull the rope some more.
VROOOM VROOOM!
Start mowing the perimeter.
Sneeze continuously from dust and grass pollen.
Blow nose.
Wipe tears from eyes.
Keep mowing 'cuz it's almost done.
Break sprinkler head.
Quit.
Get another beer.
Call gardener.

Maytag - smile version

Submitted by Elden DuRand This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  1. - Fill tank with proper gasoline/smoke-making mixture.
  2. - Set choke.
  3. - Assume the starting position with foot over stomper.
  4. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  5. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  6. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  7. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  8. - Remove spark plug and check for oil fouling.
  9. - Replace spark plug and check for -OUCH!!"- spark.
  10. - Assume the starting position with foot over stomper.
  11. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,POP,duh,duh.
  12. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  13. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  14. - Stomp!...duh,POP,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  15. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,POP,POP,duh,duh.
  16. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  17. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  18. - Stomp!...duh,POP,duh,duh,POP,duh,duh, POP,POP,duh,duh POP, duh,duh,duh,duh,duh....
  19. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  20. - Hurl choice expletives at the recalcitrant motor.
  21. - Adjust mixture.
  22. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,POP,duh,duh.
  23. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  24. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  25. - Expletive deleted.
  26. - Stomp!...duh,POP,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  27. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,POP,POP,duh,duh.
  28. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  29. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  30. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  31. - Jump up and down to try to get kink out of knee.
  32. - Hurl salty oath at infernal machine.
  33. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  34. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  35. - Stomp!...duh,duh,duh,duh,duh.
  36. - Go looking for your axe........…

Read more: Just for a smile...

Submitted by Peter Scales This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1.  Remove Crankcase Door and fill the connecting rod troughs with lubricating oil of the correct quality.
2.  Using engine oil in oil can, well oil connecting rod big end through the holes provided.
3.  Open Oil Filler Cover.
4.  Fill sump with oil to within one inch of the top.
5.  Turn Engine over by hand until oil is delivered through the three oil pipes inside the crankcase on to the main bearings.
6.  Replace Crankcase Door.

"To Start Engine"  (all models)
  1. See that the valve lifter stud is underneath the exhaust valve tappet.
  2. Turn Governor Lever Handle downwards.
  3. Lift Overload Pawl to allow governor lever to move to maximum position.  This Pawl will return to Normal as soon as engine starts.
  4. Screw the compression ratio changeover Valve(s) inwards tight on to seat.
  5. Place the starting handle on the engine crankshaft, and turn smartly. When a good speed has been obtained on the flywheel, pull valve lifter stud from under exhaust valve tappet when the engine should immediately fire. On multi-cylinder engines the other stud should be pulled out immediately after.
  6. As son as the engine has attained its normal speed, open the compression ratio changeover valve by screwing the hand wheel(s) outwards until it (they) come(s) to a stop.
  7. NOTE.  When Changeover Valve is screwed in [it beds] against seating at A Fig. 3; when screwed out, against seating at B.  These seatings should be kept free from carbon.  This can be done by turning valve hand wheel backwards and forwards once or twice before leaving in final position, tight up.…

Read more: Lister 10-2 Diesel Engine (and probably 12-2 as well)

Submitted by Clarke L. McGee This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I guess from the stories I have been sharing here all of you must think that
I must be about 100 years old, but I am only a little over half of that! But
talking about starting big engines... Back in the mid '60's I worked for
Texsun Corp, a juice/canning plant. This plant even converted the citrus
pulp to cow feed! in this process the excess water, citrus oil and left over
juice was concentrated into "molasses" by boiling it at a low temperature.
The equipment used was a very large air compressor/engine that operated from
one crankshaft with the power cylinder at one end and the compressor at the
other end. This unit had 2 flywheels on it that were 6 to 7 ft in dia.
Starting sequence was very interesting, and consisted of the following
steps. 1. The engine was turned over by hand until the engine piston was
just past TDC. 2. Then the operator manipulated some small hand valves
introducing air into the cylinder in order to mane the engine start to turn
over, similar to a steam engine. 3. When the engine was rotating at a fir
rate (>20 rpm) the operator switched other valves on the engine to conduct
in natural gas and started the ignition system. This would start the engine
firing and bring it up to speed, which seemed to be about 100 to 200 rpm.
After this plant closed I guess those units were scrapped. What A Waste!

Read more: Large compressor / engine with shared crank shaft

Submitted by Peter Scales This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Points 1 to 7 apply to the singles, 3-1, 5-1 (6-1), 8 to 15 to all models.
  1. Remove Crankcase Door and pour in Lubricating oil of the correct quality till it overflows into the sump.
  2. Using engine oil in oil can, well oil connecting rod big end through the holes provided.
  3. Open oil Filler Cover.
  4. Fill sump with oil to within one inch of the top.
  5. Work pump hand lever up and down and see that oil is delivered through the oil pipes inside the crankcase on to the main bearings.
  6. Replace crankcase door.
  7. Close oil Filler cover and screw wing nut tight.  (Note - do not open while engine is running as oil will be forced out.)
  8. Fill recess in cylinder head round the valves with lubricating oil.
  9. Fill tops of push-rods and tops of Tappets. [with oil]
  10. Fill small greaser on valve rocker shaft and screw down a turn.
  11. Place oil in small cup labelled "oil", near valve tappets.
  12. Fill water cooling system with water, avoiding "hard" water wherever possible.  In case of tank cooling, open 3-way tap in bottom water tank connection so that the water can flow freely from tank into cylinder jacket. (Keep water above top connection in tank.)
  13. Fill fuel tank using fine gauze strainer.
  14. Turn on fuel tap on fuel tank.
  15. Prime fuel system.

    "To Start Engine"  (all models)
    1. See that the valve lifter stud is underneath the exhaust valve tappet.
    2. Turn Governor Lever Handle downwards.
    3. Lift Overload Pawl to allow governor lever to move to maximum position.  This Pawl will return to Normal as soon as engine starts.
    4. Screw the compression ratio changeover Valve(s) inwards tight on to seat.
    5. Place the starting handle on the engine crankshaft, and turn smartly. When a good speed has been obtained on the flywheel, pull valve lifter stud from under exhaust valve tappet when the engine should immediately fire. On multi-cylinder engines the other stud should be pulled out immediately after.
    6. As son as the engine has attained its normal speed, open the compression ratio changeover valve by screwing the hand wheel(s) outwards until it (they) come(s) to a stop.
    7. NOTE.  When Changeover Valve is screwed in [it beds] against seating at A Fig. 3; when screwed out, against seating at B.  These seatings should be kept free from carbon.  This can be done by turning valve hand wheel backwards and forwards once or twice before leaving in final position, tight up.…

Read more: Lister Diesel Engine Marks 3-1, 5-1, 10-2 (and probably for 6-1 and 12-2 as well) - the Lister 'CS' series.