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!).
Submitted by Paul Pavlinovich
  1. Open the main fuel valve at the base of the tank (if you have one, not all of them do - I think they were added post factory?)
  2. Open the compression release lever on each cylinder
  3. Turn the fuel pump control to the Start position (to do this, you have to pull it out and turn it anti-clockwise over the "stop" then let it go back in)
  4. Open the throttle about 1/4 way
  5. Oil the crank shaft and inside of the crank handle
  6. Crank at about 10 rpm until you hear the injectors start to "spurt" (they make a creaking noise)
  7. Speed up your cranking and pull off the crank
  8. Quickly flip any one of the compressor levers over to compression before the engine slows down, if the engine starts to fire, flip the other levers (if you have more than one cylinder!) over to compression - do NOT continue to run the engine with any of the levers open or you might loose a valve and piston!
  9. After the engine warms up, turn the fuel pump lever to run…

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Submitted by Paul Pavlinovich
  1. Open the needle valve 1/3 turn.
  2. Kick the starter a couple of times
  3. The engine starts (or putts and dies - see later)
  4. After the engine warms up
  5. Slowly close the needle valve until it runs clean (hey, don't laugh - if you get the two-stroke mix right they run pretty clean - a little blue smoke is expected and ok)…

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Submitted by Paul Pavlinovich

To run on petrol

  1. Open the main needle valve 2 turns
  2. Oil the shaft where the hand crank fits on and inside of the crank handle
  3. Fit the crank handle
  4. Hold the crank handle with your thumb folded in (so it does not get ripped off if the engine fires backwards)
  5. Slowly crank the engine while holding your hand over the air intake until fuel runs out of the intake
  6. Crank the engine several times quickly and she should start firing, immediately it fires pull off the crank
  7. Slowly close the needle valve until the engine fires evenly and there is no more black smoke from the exhaust…

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Submitted by Paul Pavlinovich
My procedure is slightly abnormal because my trip mechanism is badly warn and not yet replaced. You can skip step one if your mechanism is in good condition.
  1. Insert a shim between the nut and the main spring on the magneto trip mechanism to retard the spark
  2. Set the run lever to STOP (uppermost position) - this stops the magneto firing
  3. Set the throttle lever to fully open (almost touching the flywheel)
  4. Open the needle valve a full turn
  5. Pull the engine up until the compression point (near TDC) but not through compression pull it back
  6. With your hand blocking the air intake pull the engine up until compression, remove your hand and pull it back
  7. Repeat until a strong jet of fuel blasts (as a mist not as a trickle) out of the bottom of the mixer
  8. Set the run lever to "START" (first position below "STOP")
  9. Pull the engine up to compression, and then strongly pull it through - it will probably fire
  10. Pull the shim out of the trip mechanism and set the run lever to "RUN" (mine does not seem to care if it is in position 3 or 4)
  11. After the engine warms up a bit, push the throttle lever all the way into the engine casing - be really careful, this lever is between the spinning flywheel and the engine!…

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Submitted by Paul Pavlinovich

To run on petrol

  1. Open the main needle valve 2 turns
  2. Oil the shaft where the hand crank fits on and inside of the crank handle
  3. Fit the crank handle
  4. Using the hand lever, manually pump the combined fuel/oil pump until the starting bowl in the carburettor fills with petrol
  5. Hold the crank handle with your thumb folded in (so it does not get ripped off if the engine fires backwards)
  6. Close the choke lever completely
  7. Slowly crank the engine until it fires (you have to crank slowly because it has an impulse trip on the magneto, and if you crank too fast it will not trip, but also will not be fast enough to fire the magneto normally)
  8. Immediately it fires pull off the crank (if it did not already throw it off - mine usually does)
  9. Slowly close the needle valve until the engine fires evenly and there is no more black smoke from the exhaust
  10. After the engine warms up open up the choke slightly to give it a little more air - you may need to readjust the needle valve to get clean exhaust again…

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