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...


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!).
The instructions for starting an engine are in a way particular to each engine style. I'll go through some of the basic starting instructions for a few of the engines I own - you can pick the one that seems to suit your circumstances and go for it. In each of the starting instructions I'll assume that you've already make sure things such as the fuel tank tap are open :)

Read more: Starting an Engine

Submitted by Curt Holland This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  1. Fill fuel tank.
  2. EVERY time remove the ignitor and clean carbon off of the floating rod!
  3. Connect battery and turn on switch.
  4. Open petcock on ignitor and confirm spark. (Don't view too close in case it fires!) Close petcock.
  5. Turn on fuel and prime the mixer by holding in button on bottom of mixer until fuel begin to dribble out around button.
  6. Turn the flywheels slowly backwards until against compression.
  7. Find a friend to turn the other flywheel.
  8. Turn the flywheels as fast as possible the correct direction, through the intake stroke (gaining momentum) and muscle it through the compression stroke.
  9. Continue to muscle it through until it fires (usually 1st or second time around)

Read more: Stickney hit and miss with ignitor

Submitted by Ron HaskellThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  1. 1. Turn all grease cups, oil lubrication points.
  2. Hold intake valve open and rotate engine just past top dead center on the compression stroke.
  3. Turn on fuel and ignition switch.
  4. Slide roller for exhaust valve to the rear for compression release mode.
  5. Place right hand on the flywheel spoke in the 3 o'clock position, palm down.
  6. Rotate flywheel two complete revolutions and engine should be running, if not pull exhaust roller back to the release position and complete the cycle again.
  7. If it is still not running ( usually only when the engine is cold), turn off the fuel and rotate a couple more times while in the compression release mode. When it fires, let it fire twice then turn on the fuel and adjust speed.
  8. Step back and smile widely, enjoy.

Read more: Witte side shaft (9hp)

Submitted by Joe Betz This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From dead cold :
  1. Retard the spark at the magneto by flipping the lever forward.
  2. Open the fuel needle screw 5 nut facets (almost 1 turn)
  3. Open the primer cup on the cylinder just slightly to allow compression release.
  4. Pull the flywheels through compression 5 times (this gets kerosene to the mixer)
  5. At the start of the intake stroke - put a small squirt of gasoline on the primer cup.
  6. Suck in the gasoline - and - on the compression stroke, pull it through compression.  It will fire.
  7. Once it fires - Advance timing - close primer cup. Being that it's burning Kerosene - I have to keep mind and choke the mixer by covering it with my hand just enough to keep it running. I do this for a few minutes until it warms up a little.…

Read more: Witte 2HP run on Kerosene