Replace a broken starter rope on your lawnmower quickly and easily by following this simple step-by-step procedure.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:June 2010
Remove the screws that hold the rewind to the engine and lift it
off. Use a nut driver to remove hex head screws.
You tug one last time to get the lawn
mower started, and suddenly the rope
breaks and the end goes spinning into
the hole. Don't blow a gasket. If you
have even a tinge of mechanical aptitude,
replacing a starter rope is pretty
easy. If the spring breaks—a rare event,
according to our repair expert—the fix
is a lot harder, and we recommend you
take the mower to a repair center.
The first step is to remove the
rewind assembly from the lawn mower,
and how you do this varies. It's usually
held on by three or more screws.
Remove the screws and lift off the
rewind (Photo 1). Some mowers have a
shroud covering the top of the mower.
On these you'll have to search for and
remove the screws that hold the shroud
in place. If your rewind unit is held on
by rivets instead of screws, see “No
After you remove the rewind unit, flip
it over and look inside to find the knotted
end of the broken rope. Grab it with
a needle-nose pliers and pull it out.
You'll thread the new rope through this
hole. You'll find replacement starter
ropes at home centers, hardware stores
and small-engine repair centers.
First, remove the broken piece of rope by unwinding it, grabbing
the knot and pulling it out. Then rewind the spring and hold it in
place with a screwdriver.
Tie a knot in the end of the rope. Let the pulley wind the rope back
into the rewind. Reinstall the rewind unit and any other parts
Before you install the new rope, you have to rewind the
spring by twisting the rope pulley in the same direction it
goes when you pull on the rope. You'll know when you're
turning the pulley in the right direction because it will get
harder to turn. Keep turning the pulley until you feel resistance
and it won't turn easily. Then let it unwind about one-half
to one revolution until the hole in the pulley lines up
with the hole in the rewind housing. Wedge a screwdriver
against the pulley to keep the spring from unwinding while
you thread the rope through the holes (Photo 2). Tip: With
leather gloves on, melt the end of the rope with a match.
While the plastic is hot, give it a quick twist to create a
pointed end so it's easier to thread in.
Push the end of the rope through both holes and tie a knot
(Photo 3). Heat the knot a little bit with a match and pull it
tight to keep it from coming undone. Remove the screwdriver
while you keep pressure on the pulley with your finger,
and gradually let the rope wind onto the wheel. You may
have extra rope to cut off after everything's back together.
Mount the rewind unit and reinstall any shrouding or other
parts you had to remove. Put the handle on the rope and tie
a knot. Position the knot so that there's a little tension on the
rope when you release the handle. If the rope on your lawn
mower extends up the handle, make sure to place the rope
handle in its final position before tensioning the rope slightly
and tying the knot.
Rivets hold this rewind unit to the metal shroud. To access
the rewind unit, remove the bolts that hold the shroud to
the engine. If the rivets are loose, drill them out and replace
them with bolts and locknuts.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
You'll also need leather gloves.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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