Start Generator Without A Pull Cord (The Right Way)

If the starter battery on your generator is dead and the flywheel pulley does not have a notched edge to allow using a pull cord, the only alternative to get the engine to turn over is by using the nut on the flywheel to grip onto and turn the engine.

To perform this generator start method, you will require a battery-powered drill and socket extension to connect to the flywheel nut.

  • Remove the flywheel cover.
  • Fit a socket that will fit the flywheel nut to your power drill
  • Set the drill direction clockwise
  • Open the fuel valve and choke
  • Engage the socket and apply power to the drill to spin the engine
  • When the engine fires up, pull the power drill off the wheel nut

You must take extreme care to hold the battery-powered drill firmly with both hands and pull the socket from the flywheel nut as soon as the engine fires up.

Failing to disengage the power drill may cause it to be violently ripped from your hands as the engine powers up. Let’s look at this technique more closely and how you can safeguard yourself from injury.

How To Start Your Generator With A Power Drill?

Applying a high torque rotational force on the flywheel axle utilizing a power drill connected to the flywheel nut by a socket and socket extension is a viable method for starting a generator if the starter battery is dead or the pull cord is broken.

Starting up a generator engine requires that the engine be rotated to enable the piston to draw in a mixture of air and fuel and then ignite this mixture with a spark induced by the magneto in the case of a gasoline engine or by the pressure in the combustion chamber in case of a diesel engine.

The risk with this method is that as soon as the engine fires up and starts to rotate, the flywheel axle nut connected to the power drill will be rotated with a lot of force and potentially ripping the drill from your hands. Getting the timing to disengage the socket from the flywheel nut just right is essential to avoid injury.

It is also possible to connect the socket to the flywheel via a bi-directional ratchet adaptor that will not allow the torque from the flywheel to turn the drill as the ratchet clutch will spin, allowing you to pull the socket from the nut safely.

What Are The Three Methods Of Starting A Generator?

The engine crankshaft rotation can be done via a battery-powered starter motor or a pull cord mechanism that will swing the engine into life. In the absence of a started motor or pull cord, a battery-powered impact wrench can be used to crank the engine to life.

To fire up a diesel or gasoline engine, torque must be applied to turn the motor allowing for the piston to move up and down the combustion cylinder drawing in a mixture of air and fuel until the first spontaneous ignition will cause the engine to run under power.

A battery-powered starter motor is the simplest method. It only requires the push of a button to send power from the starter battery to the starter motor that will engage with the crankshaft spindle and allow the engine to rotate until it fires up.

  • For this to function, the battery must be serviced and charged at all times.

In the absence of an electric start motor and battery, a pull cord system can be fitted in place of the electric motor. You will have to provide the kinetic energy to the pull cord transferred to rotational energy on the crankshaft.

  • The crankshaft will turn and force the piston to move up and down the combustion cylinder.

Once the engine fires up, the directional attachment on the pull chord mechanism will disengage from the crankshaft spindle and allow the engine to run.

The pull cord mechanism can be removed in case that the pull cord breaks, and a battery-powered impact wrench can supply the rotational force.

Ratchet Adapter

The impact wrench needs to be fitted with a bi-directional ratchet adaptor and a socket to fit the flywheel nut. The impact wrench must be set to rotate in a clockwise direction and for the ratchet adaptor to spin freely once the engine has fired up so that it does not twist the impact wrench from your hands.

To test out that all three or at least two of these generator startup methods will work with your generator, conduct trials during your monthly generator service checks. It is best to keep your generator ready to start up and working as fast as possible in the event of a power disruption.

Trying these methods out for the first time during a power outage is not recommended. Be prepared to have redundancy solutions ready for implementation in times of emergency.

How Do I Keep My Generator At Optimal Readiness?

  • Store the generator in a clean dry place
  • Maintain the generator monthly and test all systems
  • Keep the generator fuel tank full of fuel
  • Keep a spare pull cord in case the starter fails
  • Keep a charged power drill and the correct socket extensions and adaptors
  • Practice emergency situations

Power outages are often a result of natural disasters, and you need to be prepared for all the likely and unlikely scenarios that may result in power outages. Prepare different outside locations with sufficient shelter and fresh air to run the generator.

Ensure that you have sufficient length and appropriately sized extension cords to connect the generator to the electrical supply system of your house. Know which electrical system can be powered from the generator in advance.

Switch the other circuits off or have a separate connector box installed only for connection during power outages.

Keep a fully charged headlamp and torch ready to assist you in getting your generator deployed, connected, and started in the darkness. Prepare for alternative methods of starting the generator if the starter fails or the pull cord breaks.


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