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Flash Starter.....I Need Secrets Revealed

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Please bare with me as I really need someone out there to explain the secrets of the Flash Starter to me in terms I can understand and use.

For the life of me I cannot seem to find any consistency in starting my engine (Polini 130 with clutch.....10 hours old).

I have the priming down pat, as I was chastised many times for squeezing the bulb too hard.....

So, my understanding is that as you pull on the cord, you wind up a spring to it's maximum tension, which then releases its potential energy to turn the crank and in turn start the engine. But this only happens for me about 5-10% of the time. I am sure that even slowly, I pull on the cord, I am making the piston move up and down....I didn't think this was meant to happen. Consequently it will not start. The times I managed to get it started, I only did a small pull and it happened really easy (which I am sure how it is meant to happen)....but I don't know exactly what I did. This applies mainly cold.....when the engine is warm, it is a long gentle pull (like on an old lawn mower) and it kicks into life.

What I am trying to get at is....why when I pull on the cord to its full length, nothing happens except that I am making the piston move up and down, yet other times it is the short pull that gets things happening....and it is totally unexpected and I need to know how I can do this secret short pull every time. What is really happening????

Do I need to do a series of short pulls until I feel a certain pressure, then release and pull again, or what.....? I try to recall what was different when it works right, but it is like a lottery for me. I need help so that I don't continue to do the wrong thing and damage something.

When I was training...all too easy, had someone else do it for me. Now on my Pat Malone....it is even worse trying to self start when on my back (that is another topic)...so I need to start it on the ground before I get it on and then during connecting to my wing it dies.....unhook...you get the picture, I'm sure everyone else has been there.

So please if anyone can help me out, I will be so grateful.


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17 hours ago, allrightscud said:

Thanks for that.....seems almost like doing brain surgery. Seriously....does anyone actually do what is mentioned in this article....blowing in the ventilation pipe, tilting the machine etc....?

So that mainly concentrates on having the carb correctly primed if I am understanding that correctly.....and nothing to do with technique of pulling the rope apart from "smooth and gently".


Edited by rsquared
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3 hours ago, Xcitor 1 said:

I would say that you have a problem with the clutch not the flash starter. It seems to me that now and then the clutch is engaging hence why the piston is moving up and down whilst pulling the flash starter. Have a similar problem with my polini 200. Jon.

Ok....you have a similar problem Jon, have you had any advice to help solve the problem? It is a brand new motor......what am I missing?

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Hello all I can say is more often or not the clutch does not disengage on my polini 200 which means pulling the flash starter immediately turns the engine over. Whilst it's not really flying season I should really get on with investigating the cause instead of being lazy. Pat from Torquay had a similar problem with his 190 light that I believe is belt driven. Pat did find a broken spring in the gearbox which apparently is very common on that engine. J.

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The description above does not fit with a clutch issue. The clutch will not engage until about 2500-3000 rpm, but you can't even start the motor.


You are pulling the starter cord, and it is turning over the engine (as expected).

First makes sure it's adequately primed, push down the carb diaphragm tang and squeeze the priming bulb. Squeeze it all the way to the carb, then I do one extra reasonable squeeze which usually means enough fuel is in to start.

Your style of pulling with the flash starter should be pull short sharp (but gentle pull) until the starter engages and you get significant resistance (at this point the starter pawls/fingers have poked out sideways). Don't pull against this resistance, back up about 1cm (a tiny bit) and then pull firmly and constantly to turn the motor over, and it should start the motor within about 3 attempts. Remember with each attempt you are drawing more fuel in, so resist the urge to reprime as you may flood the engine - just do it right the first time.

If you cannot turn the engine over and the starter does not meet resistance at any point, you have a flash starter issue. It doesn't sound like this is the problem.

You describe the motor turning over. I would suggest doing easy things first - check and change the spark plug (BR10EIX is probably best for you). Check the plug sparks - you'll need a friend to help you do this. Make sure you are priming correctly. The spark plug shouldn't really have a little washer under it (the one it comes with) if you are using a brass CHT gauge, but it probably doens't make much difference if it does to be honest. Also the carb's choke should be off, it doesn't do anything for the thor 130, but you can try with it both on and off if you like.


Try all these things first... then I would look at other things like carb screws, pressure tubing (from cylinder to underside of carb) and anything else some one sensible suggests on this forum. It really doesn't sound like a clutch issue to me though.

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I am really lucky to have discovered the sweet spot for priming my engine and i think this is what you need to do. If there is the right amount of fuel and air and a spark nothing is going to stop it starting. Two or three pulls with no start means one of those three our out of balance. 

For me, the procedure is to lean the engine over to the side to prevent flooding the carb. Pump the bulb to get the fuel up to the carb and one extra push to squirt some fuel into the carb (you can hear it go in). Put it ON MY BACK give the cord a gentle pull forward to get it to a comfortable position and ideally move the piston over top dead centre and then a swift smooth pull out to arms length. Usually goes first time even after two weeks of no flying.

  • Practice that priming and yes, leaning the machine has certainly helped me, I used to flood the engine,
  • Please dont start the engine on the floor. I know it's easier but only if you are doing it wrong - I confess after I had flooded it I used to put it on the floor, Fully open the throttle to let lots of air in and pull away at the starter until it sparked up. Thankfully I still have two arms!

When you find the sweet spot for your machine it is like a zen experience so keep working at it.




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  • 1 month later...

The Pull starter is connected direct to the crank so will turn the engine over.. Not sure how the clutch is engaging or why you would think that it has anything to do with the clutch??? The Flash does not need to be "pulled" A simple series of 3 small tugs will engage the flash. Try looking at it while slowly tugging on the Pull chord and you will see it wind up then release and turn the crank over.. Try just pulling with one finger (this is enough) to engage the flash....   Most causes for non starting or issues with starting are due to Wrong Mixture settings or flooding...   

I have a 250 so not the same as the 100-130 etc as mine has a PWK carb.. If you think your flooding it, Prime as normal, Open the throttle fully then pull over slowly  3-4 times (you may get a little Kick) then one hard firm pull... If this sorts it out your over priming, "prime less" 

If not check mixture,  We have a few 130's locally and all are easy to start..  


Hope that helps


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My very limited experience of flash starters tends to confirm Morgy,s comments on the pull/ tug method, the priming or clutch engagement have nothing to do with the flash starter, its all in the wrist action :D, although I have to say I would love to meet the person that designed the corsair flash starter and have a quiet talk with them, so far both fail to rewind frequently,solved by rewinding the return spring, that worked for a bit,then the retaining shoulder bolt unwound despite the loctite, a left hand thread on it removes that problem of a shattered drive dog . my current solution has been to make a L/H threaded shoulder bolt and helicoil into the housing and replace the nylon and acetal spring housing and dog disc with aluminium ones, but the good news, I did re use the bit of string again.......

bottom line I think is you need to learn the difference between a full out pull and the pull needed to compress the spring.



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