Pull cord on outboard doesn't catch

I have an old Johnson 10hp outboard engine with a pull cord, and the problem I’m having with it is that the pull cord doesn’t always crank the engine, but for the first 3-4 (or if I’m unlucky 20-30) pulls simply spins free without catching anything, until you finally hear a rewarding click and the engine finally turns over.

I’ve opened the thing up to try to figure out the reason for this, but without much luck. Does any outboard guru out there have advice?

Sounds like a bad starter clutch. Lawn mowers & most outboard motors have one that screws onto the crankshaft and sits on top of the flywheel. Inside are ball bearings that drop in place when the rope is pulled. I bet the cam/gear inside is worn out. Starter clutches aren’t very expensive.
Here’s a Brigs Stratton Starter Clutch

Need a starter clutch wrench like this to remove it. The other tool holds the flywheel so it doesn’t spin around as you break the clutch loose.

Too follow up…

To repair, I’d pull the motor housing and remove the starter clutch. You’ll need to pick up a starter clutch wrench at a lawnmower place. Use the motor model and serial numbers to get a replacement clutch. Save a trip and buy the wrench and clutch at the same time. :wink: Screw it back on snugly tight with the wrench. Don’t get carried away and strip the crankshaft threads. :wink: replace the housing and try it.

Prior to solid state ignition - I replaced over a hundred points & condensers on lawn mowers in my dads shop. That required removing the starter clutch and flywheel. Not a big deal at all. That was very, very routine servicing prior to solid state.

Outboards are very similar. Except they are a major PITA to work on because you need a water tank. you’ll burn up an outboard starting it without water. Dad serviced those too and taught night classes at the Vo Tech school. Small Engines was one class and Outboard motors was the other one he taught.

Sorry about your old Johnson.

I have never seen a device on a outboard that resembles a lawn mower manual starter.
My question to you is,

  1. is your starter rope coming out of the center of the flywheel?
  2. is the starter separate (beside) from the flywheel with a small gear exposed that needs to engage the flywheel?
    If its #2, there is a tension spring that could be faulty, but most problems deal with poor lubrication.
    If its an older model the rewind mechanize will have to be removed and the engaging pawl will require replacement or again lubricated.
    With the #2 type starter, a quick pull is needed when things start to wear and 10-12 years ago my grandsons wanted to take the 14 ft. fishing boat for a ride. They were 6,6 &7 and were fighting over who would operate the outboard.
    They were all wearing life jackets and were roping away tying to start it. i was sitting on shore with a good book pretending to be reading but enjoying the boys pursuit to start the engine, then to my surprise they got the motor started!
    The excitement this brought to them was short lived as they revved and revved the motor going nowhere. :slight_smile: They had no idea about shifting it into gear. :smiley:
    One of those times the video camera should have been with. :frowning:

My lord, I stand in awe at the collective outboard knowhow. This place never ceases to surprise me =)

To answer your questions, I’ll have to pick the engine apart this weekend. From what I remember, the whole mechanism with the pull cord is a self contained unit which screws on top of the engine proper, though I’ve never quite figured out how it engages the engine (this may be part of my problem). I’ll return with pictures if I can’t figure the rest out on my own.

When you pull the cord, centrifugal force causes several “dogs” to catch and turn the engine over…perhaps the ‘dogs’ are stuck and not swinging out?

I just had my old Johnson 6hp apart the other day. The starter mechanism on that doesn’t have a clutch. It is a rod with a groove spiraled around it. The rope is wound around the rod in this groove, and when you pull, the rod spins and raises until the gears on top mesh with the gear ring on the engine.

If your starter mech is like mine, you should rewind the cord. It might have stretched or slipped off a wind or 2.

It is a pain in the ass, my suggestion is to spin the rod all the way up before reattaching the pull cord. Then you can let the rod go and let it wind the cord up.

An old Johnson that doesn’t do anything when you pull on it, no less.:frowning:

Well, problem turned out to be easier than I thought. The dogs weren’t catching on the flywheel, but I noticed a very obvious looking screw on top of the pull cord unit, and screwing on it raises or lowers the dogs. I’m not entirely sure why this is something one would want to adjust, possibly the plastic dogs get worn over time and can be lowered further to increase life.

Anyway, problem solved =)

We are still talking about outboards, aren’t we?
Or should I mention Viagra? :D:D:D:D

Don’t need an outboard to motorboat, amiright?

Let’s not continue this line of thought. :smiley: