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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone routinely start their generator with a battery operated drill? It seems like a neat trick. I pulled my back out recently and I don't know if I would have been able to start the gen without aggravating it more. That made me regret not getting a battery operated model, and wondering if the drill trick is OK for such situations. A YouTube video warns of the risk of breaking a wrist using the drill trick. Another YouTuber acknowledged that risk and adapted a freewheel (?) from old car starter parts. But that takes more skill (welding) than I have. Anyone know where such a thing might be bought as a kit? Or have advice on how to minimize the wrist-breaking risk?
 

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I’ve seen it, it’s a neat trick but kind of silly. Any reason why the pull starter isn’t adequate?
 

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demerdp: read his post again, he has a bad back.
I have had to give up pull start machines due to the same reason.
 

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A YouTube video warns of the risk of breaking a wrist using the drill trick. Another YouTuber acknowledged that risk and adapted a freewheel (?) from old car starter parts. But that takes more skill (welding) than I have. Anyone know where such a thing might be bought as a kit? Or have advice on how to minimize the wrist-breaking risk?
What's the make/model of the generator and size/model of the engine if known?

Here's an example of a small drill adapter: Electric Engine Easy Starter Drill Bit Adapter for Trimmers & Other Handheld Kit | eBay
On larger engines, you just remove the recoil starter and use a shallow socket on the flywheel nut.

The best way to avoid wrist damage is to use a right angle impact driver, like the one below. You can also accomplish the task with a regular pistol impact driver or drill, but you hold the grip from the side with your thumb on the trigger to get as much leverage as possible.


If you want to get more serious, you use a two-hand racing starter like we used to use on racing motorcycles:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What's the make/model of the generator and size/model of the engine if known?

Here's an example of a small drill adapter: Electric Engine Easy Starter Drill Bit Adapter for Trimmers & Other Handheld Kit | eBay
On larger engines, you just remove the recoil starter and use a shallow socket on the flywheel nut.

The best way to avoid wrist damage is to use a right angle impact driver, like the one below. You can also accomplish the task with a regular pistol impact driver or drill, but you hold the grip from the side with your thumb on the trigger to get as much leverage as possible.


If you want to get more serious, you use a two-hand racing starter like we used to use on racing motorcycles:
Its a 301CC Champion (looks like a Honda clone) engine. Its pretty easy to start (except when I forget which way to turn the fuel valve :) but I am getting a little brittle in my old age.
Do you think an impact driver is better than a drill for this trick? The impact driver chucks are more convenient for sockets, but are there other advantages? I don't have a right angle impact driver but I do have the right angle drill. Maybe I'll give that a try. A mini version of that cycle starter would be just the thing!
 

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Impact drivers are not suited for this task. A
drill is better. But it’s really not a great idea. The risk of hurting your wrist is very possible, and very likely.

Best would be to sell the current generator and buy one with electric start. At the very least adjust your technique and use a slower longer pull as opposed to a hard quick yank. This can greatly reduce the strain of your back.
 

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This is a painful topic to me. I bought another a spare generator about five years ago, an open frame Generac 5500 at a big discount at Lowe's during an end of season sale (generators have seasons?). We've had minimal outages since, I think it has about 38 hours to date. My back has been sometimes tricky since I got out of the military in '70, now it's just bad. So, probably going to try to sell this one and replace it with essentially the same size only with battery start. I already have a spare, so having three sitting in the barn would be weird, even for me.
 

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you havve to remove the drill instantly when it starts. You wouldn't catch me doing it, as a engine is a lot stronger than bone and muscle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the good posts. I think I'll stick with the pull rope and try to improve my technique for now. I do have a plan B if my back gets really bad; finally allow other family members to operate the power equipment. :)
 

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SDG best to buy the electric start conversion kit.
at least for most standard honda gx engines they have oem kits to add electric start.
now with that said if it is a true CHonda you should be able to find those parts if you know the exact version of honda engine they are cloned from.

pm me if you need help on this

I feel your pain... we are all not getting any younger!

a permanent mounted gen set in a sun shed with electric start should be in your plan!
raise it up a bit so you can service it with ease..
drill start is just a bad idea...
too many bad things can happen...

yea it is cheaper to buy a electric start gen already setup.
the custom modify it to your setup.
that is what we do with the honda eu7000is gens.
and it is a good set to start a good back up system on.
lots of parts out there for a new version of a gx390 as well.
 

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I am able to use this drill starting setup with no problems on my Generac 5500 with the Honda GX390 clone engine:

  • 20v Black & Decker drill
  • Proto 5447 1/2" breaker bar ratchet adapter (got it off of ebay)
  • 6 inch socket extension with 1/4" x 1/2" (1/4" end fits into drill & 1/2" end fits into Proto 5447 1/2" breaker bar ratchet adapter)
  • Craftsman 23mm 1/2" socket that fits the flywheel nut perfectly on my engine

Always make sure the ratchet adapter is set to spin in the right direction and it is not a problem. The ratchet adapter allows the socket to spin freely when engine fires so it prevents a kickback and is easy to pull away from spinning flywheel. Firm grip with gloves on is how I use it.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"breaker bar ratchet adapter " - That's the secret sauce! The one you bought on ebay looks like a used high quality version. I suppose the adapter doesn't completely eliminate the wrist-breaking risk but does reduce it. I don't think ratchets are designed designed to turn at high RPM, but a good one shouldn't seize up in the few extra seconds it might take a slowpoke like me to pull the socket off the nut. I may get one as a plan C.
 

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I totally agree that the risk is not at all eliminated, and thanks for mentioning that. In fact I should emphasize that I always hold the whole rig very straight aimed at the flywheel without wobbling the drill and I have plenty of room around me to be in proper body position for the logistics. I don't think I've ever had to hold the drill in place for more than a few seconds, but YMMV depending on how fast your engine fires.

I'm a senior citizen with a fair amount of tool use in my background so this method can be helpful to me, but I do not recommend this method without cautionary awareness for sure. I would not even consider trying it without the breaker bar ratchet adapter "secret sauce". (y) :)
 

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Here's an example of a small drill adapter: Electric Engine Easy Starter Drill Bit Adapter for Trimmers & Other Handheld Kit | eBay
On larger engines, you just remove the recoil starter and use a shallow socket on the flywheel nut.
you havve to remove the drill instantly when it starts.
"breaker bar ratchet adapter " - That's the secret sauce!
That's what the Easy Starter Adapter in my first response does... Troy-Bilt sells them under their label for small engines:
 
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Breaker bar ratchet adapter = game changer.

Does that Troy-bilt jumpstart piece have a one way clutch?
 

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Breaker bar ratchet adapter = game changer.

Does that Troy-bilt jumpstart piece have a one way clutch?
Yes... I was just using that as an example.
8488

This is the inexpensive adapter I have. It was about $12 delivered. That Proto 5447 is the REAL deal, but it's about $55 new or $20 used.
 

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They are all neat tricks but there is some to watch. Any combustion engine that requires a hand crank/prop is extreamly dangerous if you use a hand crank, do not wrap your thumb around it, if backfires, you either break your thumb or your wrist or both. Using a drill seems a nice trick as some sort of last resort method but shall not be used as a primary method. Still, is safer to use the rope and pully than using a power tool. God forbid that you are in SHTF/Boondock scenario and get injured, I rather have a shortage of Toilet Paper instead of a broken limb.
 

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Any combustion engine that requires a hand crank/prop is extreamly dangerous if you use a hand crank, do not wrap your thumb around it, if backfires, you either break your thumb or your wrist or both.
The "rule of thumb" for hand cranking an engine is definitely an important thing, but not necessarily when using a right angle or 2-handed drill (ALWAYS use two hands) with a ratchet or preferably a one-way bearing to start a small engine. I have LOTS of experience doing both; 1922 Model T 4 cylinder hand crank and racing cart/motorcycle engines.

 

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I am seriously thinking about carrying a small generator with me, at least in winter months when snow or ice is possible, rare in our part of E Texas. My wife and I got caught in NE Louisiana when my mother was in the hospital one Jan. Central heat requires electric. Dad had installed a gas wall heater but that only heats part of house, That and gas stove I could heat the house better if I had an electric fan to move some air around.
 

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I know people who still do it, but it's not for my back and age. I can barely use an impact driver, let alone put so much physical effort. Even the impact driver that I had to buy was based on specific parameters that I could identify here Best Impact Driver 2021 | Power Drill Guru . They did a good job describing what a lightweight drill sounds like, and I went on with their suggestion. I don't know how useful it would be to buy a random drill that could easily be too heavy and strain my back even more.
 
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