Elec Generator - Alternative Start vs Pull Cord?

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phil san

Member
Jul 15, 2008
140
South Shore, MA
Have a Porter Cable 5500w Electic Power Generator. My wife is unable to pull the starter cord anymore. ( guess we are getting older ). !!

Is there any alternative way to start this when I'm not home? Remember seeing something about using a drill for lawn mowers.

Looking for maybe an aftermarket 12VDC add on starter she could use with a battery.

Thanks
 

kenny chaos

Minister of Fire
Apr 10, 2008
1,995
Rochester,ny
phil san said:
Is there any alternative way to start this when I'm not home?
Thanks

Got any friends? Seriously.
You can't just add a starter unless the flywheel is set-up for it which it probably is not. And if it was, you'd need a battery and voltage regulator, solenoid switch, and more beer, etc..
Buy new?
 

smokinj

Minister of Fire
Aug 11, 2008
15,980
Anderson, Indiana
kenny chaos said:
phil san said:
Is there any alternative way to start this when I'm not home?
Thanks

Got any friends? Seriously.
You can't just add a starter unless the flywheel is set-up for it which it probably is not. And if it was, you'd need a battery and voltage regulator, solenoid switch, and more beer, etc..
Buy new?
good advice! sell your old one.and buy new one thats set up for it
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
16,392
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Very expensive to upgrade to electric start and even then only some engines are upgradable. You could start a much smaller engine with one of those old fashioned drill systems but the genset you mention has a 10-12 HP engine and will be very difficult to crank over which also explains the wife's difficulty.

New genset is cheaper and more dependable than a cobbled together starter.
 

phil san

Member
Jul 15, 2008
140
South Shore, MA
Yeah, I here ya! Was hoping for an easy alternative. Just hate the hassel of trying to sell it. Runs perfect, probably only 30 hrs run time on it. Ive, got the inverter and backup battery setup stuff for the pellet stove, battery for phone/internet, regular wood burning stove and wood, so we are pretty much totally self sufficient with the generator to run the well pump and central heat in an emergency.

Just want to keep the wife happy if she happens to be home, power goes out and I won't be in for a while.

You know " Oh my G the electricity is going to go out!!! My answer " who cares, we are covered!!

BUT, for peace of mind and getting a bit older, think I'll start googleing and see what out there.
 

smokinj

Minister of Fire
Aug 11, 2008
15,980
Anderson, Indiana
phil san said:
Yeah, I here ya! Was hoping for an easy alternative. Just hate the hassel of trying to sell it. Runs perfect, probably only 30 hrs run time on it. Ive, got the inverter and backup battery setup stuff for the pellet stove, battery for phone/internet, regular wood burning stove and wood, so we are pretty much totally self sufficient with the generator to run the well pump and central heat in an emergency.

Just want to keep the wife happy if she happens to be home, power goes out and I won't be in for a while.

You know " Oh my G the electricity is going to go out!!! My answer " who cares, we are covered!!

BUT, for peace of mind and getting a bit older, think I'll start googleing and see what out there.
should be an easy sell this time of year!
 

jdemaris

New Member
Oct 11, 2008
452
Central New York State
phil san said:
Looking for maybe an aftermarket 12VDC add on starter she could use with a battery.

Thanks
It all depends on the spec #s on your particular engine. Generator companies buy engines in lots - usually for whatever is the best deal at the time. Sometimes pull-start engines come with teeth on the flywheel, and sometimes not. You either have to look - or - get the spec. #s of the engine and look up the parts. If you have a Briggs Intek engine, they sell DC and AC starters for them. If it's a Vanguard, I think DC is the only option. New starters aftermarket cost less then $40. If it's a Tecumseh, AC starters are available.

Maybe AC would not be desired if you only use the generator during power outages? If so, and you install a DC starter - you don't need any charging system or battery. If all you want the starter for - is to start the generator once in awhile - you can just start it with jumper cables via a portable power pack, your car, etc.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
16,392
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
That's funny, a backup generator with an AC powered starter. That's like a solar powered flashlight or screen doors on submarines.
 

jdemaris

New Member
Oct 11, 2008
452
Central New York State
Highbeam said:
That's funny, a backup generator with an AC powered starter. That's like a solar powered flashlight or screen doors on submarines.
Well . . . it's not much worse than the many times I had to get my small 1500 watt portable gasoline generator going - so I could plug my 40 horse diesel tractor's block-heater into it - so I could get the damn tractor started at 10 below zero - just so the tractor would then power my 17 KW PTO generator and power my house. Very convoluted, but it worked - until I installed a solar-electric system.

This guy says he has an inverter and batteries. So, he could use the inverter to power and AC starter if necessary - assuming he has one of decent size. You can buy a pretty rugged 4000 watt inverter for $139 when they're on sale. Amazingly cheap.

Power is out here right now - and they're saying it might be out for 3-4 days. We had one heck of an ice storm. That's the longest outage we've had in 30 years. It's going to put my battery-bank to the test if the sun doesn't come out tomorrow. If the sun stays hidden for the next few days - I'll have to fire up a small generator to run my 48 volt DC battery charger - to get my 48 volt battery bank up to snuff.
 

phil san

Member
Jul 15, 2008
140
South Shore, MA
jdemaris said:
phil san said:
Looking for maybe an aftermarket 12VDC add on starter she could use with a battery.

Thanks
It all depends on the spec #s on your particular engine. Generator companies buy engines in lots - usually for whatever is the best deal at the time. Sometimes pull-start engines come with teeth on the flywheel, and sometimes not. You either have to look - or - get the spec. #s of the engine and look up the parts. If you have a Briggs Intek engine, they sell DC and AC starters for them. If it's a Vanguard, I think DC is the only option. New starters aftermarket cost less then $40. If it's a Tecumseh, AC starters are available.

Maybe AC would not be desired if you only use the generator during power outages? If so, and you install a DC starter - you don't need any charging system or battery. If all you want the starter for - is to start the generator once in awhile - you can just start it with jumper cables via a portable power pack, your car, etc.
I'll look up the engine tomorrow. A 12vdc that could be started via a power pack ( got those for the cars already) would be great. Saw a bunch of starters @ jackssmallengines.com, now just have to see if its doable.
 

carbon neutral

Feeling the Heat
Oct 1, 2007
304
S.E. Connecticut
I am not sure if it is called a casing but the sheet metal cover that goes around the flywheel. It needs to have an opening where the pinion of the starter will go through and the engine block needs to have been drilled and tapped for mounting bolts for the starter motor. I went through the same thing with my generator, concerned my wife wouldn't be able to start the generator. In the end I found it easier to replace my wife and get a younger one. LOL I bet you could sell that generator in the Albany area pretty quickly right now.
 

beau5278

Member
Dec 8, 2008
92
western NY/northeast PA
Do you know what engine is on your generator?There is a possibility that an electric starter could be retrofit,are there models similar to yours that have electric start?If worse comes to worse there are small self contained starters used on racing go karts,similar to the ones used on Indy race cars,that should work,you would need to remove your rewind,then use a socket on your flywheel nut to spin the engine.There is also the possibility that you could rig up something similar with a good,high torque electric drill but be careful with that if you try it,I've had my wrist twisted pretty bad when a drill that I was useing bit and then the drill will twist your wrist,I've heard of people getting there wrist broken.Here's a link with the go kart starter that I was talking about.http://www.jcspecialty.net/The starter is on page 204 of the online catalog.
 

phil san

Member
Jul 15, 2008
140
South Shore, MA
Thanks. Like I said, I'll look up the exact engine later today. Want to keep it at <$100. For the few times we ( or she would use it ).

I'd trade the generator before my wife. Been together 33 years and believe me I wouldn't change it. !!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

beau5278

Member
Dec 8, 2008
92
western NY/northeast PA
If your wanting to keep it under $100.00,you'll probably be better off trading up to an electric start generator,I don't think there's an engine made that you could retrofit parts for that price,even if you can find them used.
 

kenny chaos

Minister of Fire
Apr 10, 2008
1,995
Rochester,ny
phil san said:
Thanks. Like I said, I'll look up the exact engine later today. Want to keep it at <$100. For the few times we ( or she would use it ).

I'd trade the generator before my wife. Been together 33 years and believe me I wouldn't change it. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

What did ya find?
 

phil san

Member
Jul 15, 2008
140
South Shore, MA
Nothing yet. Football Sunday! BUT --- Boy do I like the Honda Superquiet Electric start. Generators have come a long way. Only $2,000. Now I would love my gen to fail so I can
put the Honda on a credit card and help the economy!!
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,427
Midwest
I don't suppose there is any way to work on the ergonomics? Maybe replace the small "T" starter handle with a big one that she could get both hands on. Also, an engine that big there should be a compression release for starting...many times it's built into the exhaust valve and works automatically, but if this happens to have a separate or manual one, make sure it's working and she knows how to use it.
 

jdemaris

New Member
Oct 11, 2008
452
Central New York State
cozy heat said:
I don't suppose there is any way to work on the ergonomics? Maybe replace the small "T" starter handle with a big one that she could get both hands on.
One thing that works with some pull starters is to add a longer rope. By adding rope, the OD of rope pulley, when full, becomes larger - and thus - pulling the starter becomes easier. Most, when new, are already as full as possible - but not all. Also, sometimes the end of a rope breaks, the handle gets retied onto a shorter rope, and pulling becomes much harder.
 

phil san

Member
Jul 15, 2008
140
South Shore, MA
Found some 12vdc starters that may work, just have to really research it. But really not cost effective. Cheaper to by a small electric start starter for the very few times we may need it.

I think long term, since retirement age is creeping up that an electric start, quiet model similar to the Honda I mentioned. But not this year with the economy as it is.

Definately going to try the larger handle this weekend.
 

seige101

Minister of Fire
Mar 25, 2008
622
Western MA
Well i can't help you with the generator breaking, but i will offer to buy it for a fair price. Got a friend in blandford area who needs a bigger unit to run the house. No power expected till wednesday. This would let you get the spiffy ultra quite honda you are eyeing :)
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,727
Northern NH
If the generator is stored in a cold area, a slight improvement can be made by running synthetic oil instead of regular oil. It has a lower viscosity at cold temps.

Too bad you cant find one of the wind up starters that used to be used on lawnmowers years ago. I havent seen one for years but they did seem to work.
 

colebrookman

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2008
776
Middlefield, Ma
phil san said:
Yeah, I here ya! Was hoping for an easy alternative. Just hate the hassel of trying to sell it. Runs perfect, probably only 30 hrs run time on it. Ive, got the inverter and backup battery setup stuff for the pellet stove, battery for phone/internet, regular wood burning stove and wood, so we are pretty much totally self sufficient with the generator to run the well pump and central heat in an emergency.

Just want to keep the wife happy if she happens to be home, power goes out and I won't be in for a while.

You know " Oh my G the electricity is going to go out!!! My answer " who cares, we are covered!!

BUT, for peace of mind and getting a bit older, think I'll start googleing and see what out there.
Put it on Craigs list and it will be gone by the end of the day. They are at a premium and scarce.
Ed
 
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