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Stihl trimmer - starter recoil spring replacement

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by Roger, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,920

    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.


  2. dutch1

    dutch1 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Jayhawk
    Posts: 2,231


    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.

  3. jbell113

    jbell113 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 654

    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.
  4. Breezmeister

    Breezmeister LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from South Jersey
    Posts: 1,546

    ericg likes this.
  5. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,920

    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.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    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.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    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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