How to start a generator when the pull rope breaks

Earlier this year, our generator pull start rope broke as well as the spring with the starter recoil assembly. We were left in a terrible position, but had enough power to ration until the new part arrived.  The new part broke in the 1st pull.  If not for the advice of a few subscribers, we would have to not been able to start the generator when we needed it again.  This is the day we needed power for our home and homestead business, and if I could not get the power on we were going to have to drop over a $1,000.00 to get the right size generator for our home.  This was my  first attempt at pull starting the generator with a regular 1/4″ rope on the outside of the bell housing leading to the crank shaft.

A big thank you to those who follow this blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for the advice and how to do this safely.


What led to this is the inability to find a new starter recoil assembly that will fit the generator I have.  It appears every part on the market advertised to fit the RIDGID 6800G does not actually fit the machine.  There is not enough clearance for the pull start spindle and the bell housing on the crank shaft.  It will install, but the motion of the bell housing once started will wreck the spring, which prevents the rope from ever retracting again. Whoever designed the replacement part did not consider this, and it is a failed attempt at a one size fits all part.  Unfortunately, anyone owning the generator RIDGID 6800G will one day have to face this problem.  Our machine lasted 6 years before this occurred.

There are options though before considering throwing your perfectly viable machine away because of this $30 part mix-up.  A person may be able to find a different bell housing and attach it to the crankshaft.  The bell housing and starter recoil assembly of a more reliable brand may work on the RIDGID, but this may take a little engineering.  I have not tried this yet, and I am honestly waiting to put money into our barn build this summer.  We have plenty of solar energy now keeping us going.

If there is no such hope for our generator and I have to purchase another back up electrical system.  I am debating two courses of action and both involve my new tractor.  I either plan to build or purchase a manufactured generator that will work on our tractor’s PTO.  I could generate a lot more power using the diesel engine than I did with the gasoline stand alone generator.  The fuel being diesel will will not need fuel additives to keep from going bad.  I could also use the farm grade dyed diesel which isn’t taxed as heavily as diesel used for driving.  I knew when we purchased the tractor, it would become a major part of our homestead, and it may become our main back up source of electricity as well.  Perhaps, I could convert to electric chainsaws and use the tractor’s generator to fetch our firewood.  The potential is endless.

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