How do I re-wind a lawnmower pull cord?

I’ve got an older model of this craftsman lawnmower. And right now it is living up to it’s crapsman nickname.

I was mowing the lawn the other day and when I went to pull the draw cord to start it again after a refuel it snapped. So, I went down to the hardware store and bought the new cord, took off the top plastic plate, undid the remaining cord, refitted the new cord, and wound it counter-clockwise to make it tight again. I replaced the plastic top, and gave it a pull. It turned over briefly but it did not rewind itself back up. the cord stayed “pulled out”. What gives?

Has anyone done this before with more success?

You have a broken coil spring.

Good Luck, these are not real easy but not too bad once you get past the spring.

There is a flat coil of spring steel inside the cord head (usually on the back of the spool) and when the pull cord snaps this spring steel comes unwound as well. The only way to return it to normal is to rewind the spring steel before replacing the cord.

First, remove the cord head (the same as when you originally replaced the cord) and remove the new cord.

Then rotate the cord spool counter clockwise and see if there is any tension on it. If there is then leave some tension on it and rewind the string (keeping the tension on the spool).

On the ones I have done there are little metal tabs holding the spool in place, simply bend these up and you will be able to hold some tension on the spool while winding the cord around it.

If there is no tension on the spool or if you hear a rattling sound then your spring may have come off or broken. Just remove the spool and replace the spring (available from most lawn & garden stores, but probably not WalMart). Then wind up the spring until there is some slight tension on it and wind the cord as mentioned above.

It is also possible to leave the retaining clips holding the spool in place, wind the spool up as tight as you can against the spring, insert the cord and let the spring tension wind the cord around the spool as it normally would. Any time I have tried this I have not gotten the spring tight enough so the cord does not fully retract onto the spool, I have always had to pull the spool, tighten the spring, then wind the cord manually, YMMV.

If, after the whole thing is back together, the cord still does not retract far enough, remove the cord head again, unbend the retaining clips and tighten up the spring some more.

Be carefull, a flat piece of spring steel under tension with sharp edges can be dangerous to work with.

I tried to get you a exploded view from the Sears parts direct site, but the model number doesn’t work. You’ll have to look for it yourself, if you want it.

Site link.

I didn’t phrase the first answer in the way it was intended. The spring may be broken, but I really meant it was not properly installed when you put in the new pull cord.

I’ll go get the assembly off the mower and look at the spring and see if I can get it reset. I’f I post back from the hospital you’ll know what happened :slight_smile:

Usually, IME, the spring breaks right at the end. I’ve had success several times (different mowers) annealing the end, and bending a new hook. To anneal the end, use a propane torch, heat it to a cherry red (viewed in the shade) and back the torch away slowly. DO NOT quinch it in water or oil, but let it cool as slowly as possible.

Clean the spring, and give it a light coating of oil. They are made of high carbon steel, which is very prone to rusting.

Sears has been awful in recent years about refusing to supply replacement parts to DIYs. The engine is most likely either a Briggs & Stratton, Tecumseh, or Honda. There are plenty of small engine shops that stock or can get parts for these, and if need be, repair it for you.

DAG NABBIT!!! I broke the little spring that keeps the steel latch catch things turning the fly wheel! Sorry IANA Technical person.

I had it too! I reset the spring, had it nice and tight, wound the rope around then replaced the cap…two pulls and I got a puff, puff, cough, cough rev then sputter and die. The next put snapped back with force and I heard the knocking around of some part…pulled it off again and nada. I can see the broken small spring…I’ll gave to go to a small engine repair shop like Kev suggested…

When the key on the fly wheel breaks partially the timing shifts. One thing that happens when the timing shifts is the pull rope gets broken at start up with the kickback. I suggest you hit something and the timing is off. The solution will be to have a new pin installed between the flywheel and shaft. Next they can fix the spring and rope pull. The person repairing the mower can look at it for you.