Starter – how to lubricate and help it last longer

by Had Robinson
updated July 29. 2019

1. Reducing the engine stop forces on the Top 80 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 kick-back introduces extra wear on the entire mechanism and, possibly, can break the pawls or starter reel.  How is this fixed?

While we cannot stop the kick-back, we can eliminate the potential to damage the starter by pulling the cord out a foot or two and THEN stop the engine.  As the engine dies (and reverses), release the starter.  This is a small task but over the life of the engine (and starter) it will make a difference.

2. Starter lubrication for the Top 80 & others

Every 50 hours (or as needed) perform this maintenance on the starter.  If you have a Polini starter, see the Flash starter page.  Be extremely careful working with starter springs.  Wear nitrile gloves and eye protection.

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 internals.

3. A better pulley

Viadana pulley

The OEM Viadana pulleys from Miniplane are of poor quality.  A superior pulley is the Harken which is available everywhere in the world.  Here are the details on better pulleys for your Miniplane.  There is no comparison between the Viadana and the Harken.