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Author Topic:   Pull Cord?
flint99 posted 06-14-2002 10:53 AM ET (US)   Profile for flint99   Send Email to flint99  
Just wondering if anybody or everybody stows a pull cord in case the battery, starter etc. fails. I remember my dad always had one and remember him having to use it a few times to start the engine while we were out fishing. Is this still a common practice?
TightPenny posted 06-14-2002 10:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for TightPenny  Send Email to TightPenny     
It depends on the engine.

I have one in my 60hp Johnson on my son's Sport15, but the 90 on my Montauk does not have an exposed flywheel, making it impossible to attach a pull rope.

ewalsh posted 06-14-2002 11:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for ewalsh  Send Email to ewalsh     
My 88 Mercury 200 has a pull cord in a bag on the inside of the engine hood.

I had to use it last weekend when I realized my battery was dead _just_ after the boat floated off the trailer... I threw a rope to a lady on the launch dock then pulled the hood. I was very sure that this rope start method would only make me look like a bigger donkey than was already perceived, however, the engine roared to life on the first pull. And I didn't fall backwards in the process. And I didn't whip anyone standing behind me!

I say its a must for any tool kit.

Landlocked posted 06-14-2002 12:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Landlocked  Send Email to Landlocked     
my new merc 90 2 stroke came with a cord under the cowling as well.
NoviceWhaler posted 06-14-2002 12:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for NoviceWhaler  Send Email to NoviceWhaler     
Wow, I would hate to try to jerk start my '93 88 SPL. I think it does have a notch in the flywheel where you could put a pullcord, but I've never tried. Is this viable on an older motor?


where2 posted 06-14-2002 12:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
I shudder to think of trying to pullstart my 70Hp Johnson. It's got an exposed flywheel with a notch for a rope, but it doesn't have nearly the mechanical advantage that the little pull-starter that's on my 9.5 Evinrude has. I think I'd get out the oars and stick them in the oarlocks, move the thwart, and start rowing.
Chris J posted 06-14-2002 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
If a motor is delivered from the factory with a notched flywheel and a emergency pull cord, you can bet that it is possible to pull start it. Someone at the factory did it in the design stage at least.

I've found that human power can start almost any outboard if there is a way to apply it and the motor isn't broken. The problem is that when the motor won't start it is rarely just a bad starter or dead battery. If it is a hard-starter when the electric start is working it will be a real bear to start with a cord.

Landlocked posted 06-14-2002 01:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Landlocked  Send Email to Landlocked     
I once had to pull a 140 Johnson. Didn't get it started as it had an electrical short that had resulted in the motor dying in the first place. Ran the battery down trying to start it.

Although it was difficult, it was possible to turn the motor over. If everything had been in working order, I think the motor would have started.


Duncan posted 06-14-2002 01:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Duncan  Send Email to Duncan     
I have a 13 w/ a Merc 40. Yes, pull start has saved me in a pinch.

Most factory-provided emergency pull cords I've seen have a Knot at the end to engage the knotch in the flywheel;it's usually too small and lets go, leaving you to fall over backwards. If this is the case w/ yours, cut off the knot and tie a loop (overhand) and put that over the point of the flywheel knotch and wrap it around the flywheel as usual. Gives a much more positive hold.

Also carry a can of STARTING FLUID. In a real pinch I pull a spark plug and shoot it right in the cylinder. Getting at the carb throat is too time consuming.

seagull posted 06-14-2002 01:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for seagull  Send Email to seagull     
A must, and they are alot easier to pull than you would think. I pulled started a 1976 85hp Johnson with no problem once when the starter solenoid went out.
gunnelgrabber posted 06-14-2002 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
You can certainly rope start a v-4 90hp OMC.I'd recommend anyone that has one... do it!....just to prove it to yourself.
Sort of like launching ,retrieving and trailering ? substitute for first hand experience (applied research under actual field conditions)so you'll "know your limitations" as Harry said...lm
JWK posted 06-14-2002 02:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for JWK  Send Email to JWK     
Started my 115 Mariner last summer and almost fell over backward because it was so easy! Psyced myself out that it was going to be so hard and add to my embarassment. Actually looked like I new what I was doing for once. Very thankfull I had that back-up avaliable.


ewalsh posted 06-14-2002 03:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for ewalsh  Send Email to ewalsh     
I agree, it is much easier to pull start an outboard than it looks. After I got the motor started, some random guy came up to the boat and gave me a high-five!

BOB KEMMLER JR posted 06-14-2002 03:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for BOB KEMMLER JR    
The 1962 40HP evinrude on my dads 13 sport has the pull start assembly with recoil as well as a electric start on it.I never had to use it,but it probably would fire right up,that old 40 doesnt turn over 3 times before it starts right up.It also drinks fuel like its going out of style and does a good job keeping mosquitos at bay!!
Jimm posted 06-14-2002 03:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jimm    
NoviceWhaler - yes you can do it.
lhg posted 06-14-2002 04:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Every Mercury I have ever owned, beginning with a 1970 50HP model, comes with a pull cord, in a pouch, under the cowling, from the factory. This weell thought out detail has saved me several times, and once, may have saved our lives. No matter how big your outboard, you should have one, and have practiced using it. Because if you REALLY need it, it will not be under ideal conditions, and you need to know what to do, quickly and with confidence.

It is relative easy to pull start both my in-line 6's and V-6 200's, so don't think you can't do it. When the engine is warm, it's simple, and will start with one quick, short pull unless you have mechanical engine problems. When cold, you have to know (learn how) to activate the manual choke if you have a carbed engine. This can take as many as 10 pulls, but don't give up.

Remember, we're only talking dead battery, or defective starter/circuit here. Mechanical engine trouble is a different matter. Be sure to put the key in "on" position!

One time two of us were 8 miles offshore of Lexington MI, on Lake Huron, fishing, and noticed heavy weather looming, stroems and high winds, even though the Lake was still calm. It was late in the day. The owner of the Montauk hits the poorly placed key switch with his leg, and accidentally turns the engine off. Turns the key again, and we hear a scraping sound, engine won't start. Completely dead starter, just a whirring sound. He panicked, having no idea what to do now. No boats within miles.
I took of the engine cowling, and there was the old reliable Mercury starting rope, never used. The starter had thrown it's flywheel engagment gear (or whatever it is called).
One pull and we were off! His only remark was, "Larry, I didn't know you could do that". By the time we got in, the waves were running 6 feet. Would not have wanted to spend a cold night out there in that weather without power to keep the boat into the waves. That's how Montauks get swamped and roll over.

I also remember getting some really funny looks in a marina when I had dead battery on one of the 200's. People were floored when it started on one pull.

This is another reason why outboards are so much more reliable than an inboard.

whaleryo posted 06-14-2002 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaleryo  Send Email to whaleryo     
My father's boat had a brand new 1969 Merc 125 on it, which I believe was the largest outboard you could buy at the time. There was a pull cord in a bag under the cover and we decided to give it a try. It was much easier than any of us expected! I had forgotten about that day until I saw this thread.

Thanks for the memory.



whaleryo posted 06-14-2002 05:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaleryo  Send Email to whaleryo     
I just noticed the double sign-off at the bottom of my previous reply. My father's name was also Bill. I wonder if he just added his name as acknowledgement of the event?!


Taylor posted 06-14-2002 05:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
What makes something reliable is the combination of the equipment, the tools, and the know how of the operator. I need to raise the reliability of my boat, and I'm not changing out the engine. I'll give the pull cord a test run this weekend.
tbirdsey posted 06-14-2002 08:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for tbirdsey  Send Email to tbirdsey     
Two summers ago I had a loose connection in my battery switch. Until I tracked the problem down, I found myself pull starting my 84 150 Merc on at least two occasions. The first time I tried, it was out of desperation and when that uncowled engine fired on the second pull, it scared the daylights out of me. You'd be surprised how easily they start. Can't believe every outboard doesn't come with one as standard equipment.
simonmeridew posted 06-14-2002 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
where2: absolutely positively you need to try and start your omc 70 with a rope. I pull started my '99 Johnson 70 last spring and I couldn't believe how easy it started. I couldn't remember what you had to do to disable the key choke so I had my daughter push in the key as I pulled the rope. It fires right up. I'm talking a 35 degree day, cold engine, right at the launch ramp; frost the night before etc. Now I know I can start it if I have to. Because I was working on installing the depth finder in the console the night before, one of the bullet connectors, the one that engages the starter, pulled out of the key switch so turning the key did nothing for the solenoid.So I had ignition but no electric start.
I guess I also need to say that I have pulled my non electric 6 hp Johnson to exhaustion at times and it still wouln't start. Come to think of it, I think I was with my Father who tried to start it, flooded it, and I pulled the cord about 50 times. It finalllllly coughed once or twice, and a few more pulls and it sprang to life. ....I was given the boat motor and trailer as a gift the next week. when you're doing this, you need to have all your ducks in a row, don't f@rt around and flood it then try to pull start it. It's like you have one or 2 good chances to start it then it's all over.
PMUCCIOLO posted 06-15-2002 12:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for PMUCCIOLO    
I have used the pull cord to start a number of engines from 40HP to 235HP. The back-up system works well for simple, carbureted outboards. I don't know how EFI, DFI or 4-stroke's are affected by using the pull cord. Perhaps others can comment on that.

Importantly, I'd suggest using the pull cord to get home. If that method of starting the engine is used to go out (without certain identification of the reason for the battery's being drained such as the key or the VHF being left on), one is flirting with disaster. In other words, if the boat doesn't start at the dock, I'd get the trailer.

All of my Yamaha's came with pull cords, including the 250HP Ox66 EFI and 50HP 4-stroke engines. Thankfully, I've never had to pull start any of them. I suggest carrying a laminated copy of the owner's manual "trouble shooting" section with the boat papers in a dry box.


Tom W Clark posted 06-15-2002 01:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Yes, you should have an emergency starting cord on board. Every electric start outboard I have ever owned had one tucked under the engine cowling. It's there for a reason.

I am still amazed at how skeptical people are of being able to rope start a big outboard. It’s really very simple. I routinely rope stared my Johnson 150 hp V-6. A three cylinder 70 hp is only half as big and twice as easy to start.

Do not be afraid to try it. In fact, I recommend that if you haven't tried it you should do so the very next time you go boating so when he time comes that you really do need to you will be acquainted with the procedure.

Read your owner’s manual for instructions and give it a whirl. You’ll be surprised.

rwest posted 06-15-2002 07:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for rwest  Send Email to rwest     
My Merc 50 has the pull cord and had to pull start my Merc 115 several years ago with a different boat while off shore a few miles. Started on first pull. I also carry a battery kit with the built in jumper cable. Have used it twice on others cars and it works great so I carry it on the boat as a backup. Made a vinal cover to protect it from the water.
triblet posted 06-15-2002 07:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Hey gunnelgrabber, my '96ish Evinrude 90 HP
V4 has the flywheel under a cover. No place
to hook up a pull rope. Maybe older ones
could be pull started, but not mine.


whalernut posted 06-15-2002 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
Seagull, I have a 1975 85h.p. Johnson and the rope was dry rotted and I don`t have one now, would you please tell me the length, type and thickness of the rope you use as your backup starter rope??? Thank you-Jack.
Tom W Clark posted 06-15-2002 11:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Just get a piece of 1/4" braided nylon cord about three or four feet long. Tie a loop in one end and a figure eight knot in the other, or you can tie a wooden handle on the end in lieu of the loop.

Do not try to wrap the cord around the flywheel more than 3/4 of a turn. Half a turn is usually plenty. All you're trying to do is get one cylinder to turn over the "hump" or compression stroke and away you go. Try it, you'll like it.

gunnelgrabber posted 06-16-2002 12:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
appreciate you telling me..and all of us "v blockers" that tidbit. i certainly assumed all of them had the same flywheel notch deal. obviously not the case.
when (what year) did they change the setup?
that'd be good to know....lm
PMUCCIOLO posted 06-16-2002 03:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for PMUCCIOLO    
I believe that the later model V4 OMC engines (60 degree "V") with the cover on the flywheel to which triblet refers can be pull-started. The cover needs to be removed to expose the flywheel which has notches in it.


triblet posted 06-16-2002 06:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I looked in the service manual, and I don't
see a notch in the flywheel. And getting the
cover off is non-trivial, especially hanging
over the back of the boat.


NoviceWhaler posted 06-17-2002 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for NoviceWhaler  Send Email to NoviceWhaler     
You've convinced me to give this a try somtime. There have been times when an alternative to electric start would have been helpful. Any recommendations on where to get an appropriate pull start cord/handle assembly that will take the tension of starting an 88SPL? I'm hesitant to go to the dealer and pay $55 for an identical unit to what my lawn mower has for $3.



Tom W Clark posted 06-17-2002 09:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

See my post to whalernut above. The same applies to you. Nothing more than a few feet of 1/4" cord no matter what motor you have.

Tom W Clark posted 06-17-2002 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

What is the purpose of the shroud on the OMC 60° V-4's as compared to the non-shrouded 90° V-4's? Why is it non-trivial?

I had to rope start a 1999 Mercury 75 hp last summer and it had a shroud over the flywheel too but it was held in place with three wing nuts so it could be easily removed for rope starting, which it was.

An outboard without a provision for emergency starting would seem to be a real disadvantage.

triblet posted 06-17-2002 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I have no idea why OMC put the shroud on. Maybe
safety reasons. It looks like several small
bolts and maybe some other stuff to get it off,
not the sort of stuff I want to do hanging over
the transom. I'm not inclined to pull it off to
see if there's a notch in the flywheel because
the service manual pictures don't show a notch.
And I carry jumper cables in the boat. They've
more than paid for themselves starting buddies
boats, started me once, and started several
rented houseboats


Donald Altman posted 04-10-2006 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Donald Altman  Send Email to Donald Altman     
Welp.. I am just being cautious, and trying to lean something Tom.

It is fishing time and I am setting up MY first boat.
I have been on the the water and around boats my whole life but never 100% mine and fully under my control.
I will be fishing alot more without family in the bays
and plan to have friends that aren't as experienced as my normal fishing buddies no the boat with me at times .I just really want to be prepared.

I am trying to learn as much as I can before something happens.

I am going to take the boat in the lake this weekend and just try to start the motor with the pull start to make sure I understand and can do it incase there is ever a time when I will need to do it at sea.

As much as I have been on the lakes and river my whole life I have never heard of pullstarting an electric start motor.. we always just used an auxilary battery used for trolling to start the boat if one failed.

I want to build a safe boat and have as much safety gear I can have onboard when I go out.

Not to far back we had a group of friend that went out to sea un prepared and they were never found. The boat was found 50 miles out capsized.... We knew some of the 6 people all where young 20's and it really made me want to make sure I have done everything I could do to prevent an accident.

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