Fixing Lawn Mower Pull Cord By Replacing The Recoil Pulley

Have you ever tried to pull start your lawn mower, and the cord failed to pull back in? That happened to me this weekend and while it is unfortunate, it is also easy to fix. Grab your floppy pull cord, toolbox and wounded pride and let’s get fixing. Welcome to The Hippie Geeks! If you enjoy this video, be sure to subscribe and leave a comment below!

The most likely cause of your pull cord not retracting is a broken recoil spring. To check that, you will need to remove the recoil assembly, which in my case is the entire top cover of the motor. Look around carefully and remove all of the various screws and bolts required to remove the cover. In my case, that meant three bolts around the cover, one screw on the top of the cover, and two screws that held the oil dip stick tube in place.

Once those are out, pull the cover off of the mower and flip it over. The cover, not the mower.  Remove the screw that holds the recoil assembly to the cover and set it aside. Pull out the recoil arms carefully, watching for the small springs that may be underneath them that love to jump out and get lost. Grab the end of the pull cord and either untie it or cut it off, then pull out the recoil pulley and look at the spring on the other side.

Right here at the end of the spring, there should be a little hook. As you can see mine is missing, which means it needs to be replaced. The first thing to do is track down the model number of your engine. It will typically be stamped into one of the metal panels, visible on the outside of the engine. Once you have that, search for your engine make, model number and recoil pulley. This will bring up the proper replacement you will need. If you are lucky, your local hardware store will carry it and you can get it the same day.

Once you have the new recoil pulley in your grubby little hands, it is time to get everything put back together. Place the new pulley back into place carefully, and turn it a bit to make sure that the spring is going to catch on its post properly. After that place the little springs back where they go, with the recoil arms on top of those. Put the little cover back on top and replace the screw that holds the recoil assembly to the cover. Hold the cover down firmly and turn the pulley the correct direction (counter-clockwise in my case) 10 or so revolutions and line up the pull cord hole in the cover with the one that is in the pulley.

Once they are lined up, spend the next five minutes guiding the pull cord into the two holes with one hand, while your other hand holds the pulley in place. Well, maybe it won’t take you five minutes, but it did take me a little while with one hand. Now that the cord is pulled thru, tie a knot in the end, pull it back into the pully so that the knot is out of the way and slowly let the pulley wind back up, bringing the pull cord in with it. At this point you should know if you tensioned the spring enough, too much or just right. You don’t want a ton of extra cord hanging out that will get in the way or so tight that the pulley is still under a lot of tension when the cord is pulled all the way back in. In my case I left a bit of extra cord out as it attached on the push bar a couple of feet away from the recoil cover.

Place the cover back on the mower and put all the bolts and screws back in place before you try to pull on the assembly. Once everything is back together, its time for the moment of truth and trying to start the motor. Aaaaaaand …. Success! Look at that puff of blue smoke, you can tell that it has been a while since this thing was started.

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