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Old 10-28-2007, 09:33 PM
Roger Roger is online now
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Location: McMurray, PA
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Stihl trimmer - starter recoil spring replacement

I have a Stihl FS85 trimmer. The spring in the recoil starter broke a couple of weeks ago. I robbed a starter unit from a now-dead blower and continued to work. When getting some other parts, I bought a spring for the recoil unit.

After taking apart the starter, I took out the old one. The new one came tightly coiled, wrapped with a small wire keeping it in shape.

I knew the spring was subject to expansion when the wire was removed. I carefully put the spring in the case, and, using a plier, pulled off the restraining wire. I am not sure what happened, but, BOING!!!! The spring came out of the case. Now, what to do to get it back in the case?

I tried for more than an hour, perhaps more like two hours. But, to no avail. I had somebody help me, but even with four hands, the spring remains expanded, out of the case.

I even tried to wrap it tight enough to put the restraining wire around the coil. But, I was unable to get to that point either. The wire was undamaged when I removed it.

My simple question: How can I get this spring back into the case?

Below are a couple of pics. The first one is of the broken spring. The second pics is the new one, but in the expanded shape. The restraining wire is also in the pic (in the front of the image).

I attempted this repair yesterday morning, while waiting for turf and leaves to dry out after some rain overnight. But, in the afternoon, I was able to get out to work. On the second lawn, I attempted to start the trimmer (with the substitute starter), and the spring in this starter broke too! So, now I have two starters with broken springs. In all fairness, both starters have seen long and heavy service, so having the springs break is not out of ordinary.
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Old 10-28-2007, 11:38 PM
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dutch1 dutch1 is online now
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Since you have already opened the can of worms, wind the spring tight to a diameter less than the diameter of the reel then grip the spring near the hook on fhe outer circumference with a small pair of needle nose pliers and insert the spring in the reel matching the hook with the indention in the reel. With a couple of fingers from your free hand holding the spring down in the reel, release the pliers and let the spring expand.

When you have to do this again, hold the wound spring with the needle nose pliers and remove the retaining wire before installing in the case. Use the same procedure I described above.

I haven't done a Stihl in a while but from your picture it appears that the spring is installed in the reel. Some manufacturers have the spring installed in the case.

Hope this helps.

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Old 10-28-2007, 11:45 PM
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jbell113 jbell113 is offline
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I have done this many times and I can tell you it is not easy to do. To get this spring wound back up it is easier to keep it flat on a table and keep a pair of vice grips handy to clamp it together when your fingers get tired. Try getting it started by winding it up as small as you can flat on the table once you have wound it up some clamp the vice grips on it and take a break.Then try winding some more until its wound up. When you get wound up your going to have to squeeze very tightly and remove the vice grips to place in the starter assembly. Wear safety glasses cuz i have had these things shoot out at me.
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Old 10-29-2007, 01:30 AM
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Breezmeister Breezmeister is offline
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[QUOTE=Roger;2014137] but, BOING!!!! The spring came out of the case. Now, what to do to get it back in the case?

Roger, I havn't worked on a stihl in a long time, but looking at the pics, it looks like the spring goes in the reel, that white thing the rope is on. If this is the case,, then it's not as hard as it looks. Take the out side tang on the spring and place it in the reel where it hooks in, then just start working the spring around with your thumbs, just pushing it down and around at the same time until you get the whole spring in. The newer Tanakas have a set up like that and the first few times it took me more then one try. Now I've got it down to a science. Just don't try to put it in by turning it over, bring the case over top of it and fit the reel in that way until you have it seated, then you can turn it over and put the screw back in
Masters Degree in Thinking Out Side Of The Box,Graduate of the MacGyver Institute of Ingenuity

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Old 10-29-2007, 10:05 PM
Roger Roger is online now
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Thanks for the input. I think I have tried these suggestions. The board on the Workmate with the nail is the "flat table" effort -- the nail was used as the fixed center point (held the spring with ViceGrip against the nail). This effort seemed like the most promising, nearly getting the restraining wire around the outside. Getting the outside hook firm against the coil was just not possible. But, by that time I was a bit frustrated too.

Breezmister - you are right about the "white thing the rope is on," that is what I was calling the case. I realized later I should have shot a close-up of that part for posting. It would have made my explanation clearer.

I will make more attempts to execute these ideas and get the spring installed. I just cannot believe I let it slip out. It happened so fast that I cannot really tell what happened. Before I started, I knew I was in big trouble if it got loose. I thought I was being very careful to insure that did not happen. But, ... it happened.
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Old 10-31-2007, 04:36 PM
topsites topsites is offline
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Ohhh yes that's some fun stuff, good times, yes sir, uh hmmm.
Somehow I know I done been through this before, hahaha.

Try needle nose vise grips, it's not as tricky as pliers.
I can not remember for sure, but you might have to buy another spring heh.
But I believe I did it with needle nose vise grips and maybe a screw driver or some other poky tool.
A good night's rest helps as well.

I know you guys get tired of hearing it, but engines start easier when running premium unleaded = less broken springs.
Also keeping them under cover (tarp is good) helps keep dew out of there.

Last edited by topsites; 10-31-2007 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 10-31-2007, 04:47 PM
topsites topsites is offline
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If it helps, I recall grabbing the inside-most bit of the spring with the vise grips, the bit near center.
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