How Does a Pull Start Engine Work?

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Pull start engines work via a pull rope and crankshaft.
Pull start engines work via a pull rope and crankshaft. (Image: lawnmower image by sumos from Fotolia.com)

Internal combustion engines in many modern vehicles activate via a complex electrical system. Other types of engines start manually, or via an operator’s handling of a mechanical device. A pull start engine activates via a relatively simple pull system.

Design

A pull start consists of a starter element. The starter typically is comprised of a rope with a grip or handle at one end. The body of the rope wraps around the crankshaft’s end. A crankshaft refers to an engine part that converts linear piston motion into rotation.

Operation

The operator pulls the rope’s handle or grip. This causes the rope to unwind around the crankshaft and spin it. The spinning motion of the crankshaft cranks the engine. The crankshaft’s motion engages the flywheel, enabling the engine to start.

Applications

Pull start engines are often used in such small machines as chainsaws, lawn mowers and engine generator devices. Some types of small vehicles, such as mini bikes and go-carts, also carry pull start engines.

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