launch at Valle de Bravo, Mexico powered paraglider launching from Evergreen Turf farms


paragliding training center

Starter – tips on how to help it last longer

by Had Robinson

1. Reducing the engine stop forces on the starter

Inherent in the design of the Top 80 starter is that the pawls will engage the starter reel when the engine speed is below a few hundred RPM.  This would not matter except that that the pawls and starter reel take a beating.  When the engine slows down almost to zero RPM, it will not have enough momentum to make it through top dead center.  Instead of continuing in the same direction, the engine reverses itself and grabs the starter reel at the same time, putting a terrific yank on it.  As the starter begins to turn backwards, it is stopped by the action of the cord.

This yank puts a tremendous amount of extra wear on the entire mechanism.  How is this fixed?

While we cannot stop the reverse yank at all times, we can cut it in half, more or less, by pulling the starter out a foot or two and THEN stopping the engine.  As the engine dies (and reverses), release the starter.  The result is no more violent yanks.

This is a small task but over the life of the engine (and starter) it will make a difference.

2. Starter lubrication

Every 50 hours or so, remove the starter, the center screw, and the starter reel.  Put a small amount of white lithium grease on the starter shaft.  These surfaces are plastic and will quickly wear if not lubricated periodically.  The cooling fan is a powerful vacuum cleaner and it sucks ambient air (along with dust) into the starter.  This is just another reason why it is best to launch from grass or clean concrete rather than from a dirt field or, worst of all, from a beach.  Dust causes everything to gum up quickly.  Consider maintenance of the starter a routine matter.  They wear out, get clogged with dirt, and parts break.  There is no getting around it.

Any binding of the starter spring must be addressed promptly.  Pilots who fly in dusty or sandy environments will quickly gum up the starter spring.  It must be removed, wiped down thoroughly with a rag soaked with mineral spirits, and then lubricated sparingly with light machine oil, NOT WITH ENGINE OIL!  Harbor Freight sells air-tool oil (#68094) and it should always be used to lubricate moving parts on a paramotor.

3. A better pulley

The OEM pulleys from Miniplane are of poor quality.  It works briefly – but that's it.  A superior pulley is the Harken which is available everywhere in the world.  Here are the details on better pulleys for your Miniplane (see section B4).  There is no comparison between the OEM Viadana and the Harken.