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Q-talk 91 - 0-200 Starter Thoughts

Tom Moore Frisco, TX

For those of you running an 0-200 on the front of your Quickie or for those who are planning to use this engine, I would like to pass along some thoughts on engine starters. If you already have a starter that is working well, then you probably will stay with it until it breaks. Should that happen or if you need to purchase one for a new installation, I hope this info will help you make an informed decision on which starter to choose.

As far as I know, there are six different types of starters available for the 0-200. You have the original Continental pull starter, the original Continental key starter, the B&C key starter, the new Continental key starter, the Sky-Tec key starter and the starter used by Wilbur and Orville (and Sam Hoskins), the hand prop. There may be more, but these are the only ones I know of.

So, let's get to it. Which is the best one? My vote goes for the original Continental pull starter. I feel it is the best overall starter of the bunch. It excels in four key areas; cost, reliability, performance and repair.

Let's start with cost. It is definitely the least expensive to buy outright of the six, except the hand prop. I'm not sure what the new Continental starter goes for, and I'm almost afraid to ask. The B&C sells for $800+, the original Continental key starter is fairly pricey when you include the clutch, and the Sky-Tec is running about $475 (probably comes in second in cost behind the pull starter).

Reliability is close on four of the models; the original pull, the B&C, the new Continental, and the Sky-Tec. The original Continental key starter is notorious for eating up clutches and they are expensive to replace. Another downside to the original Continental key starter clutch is that its clutch gear is always in contact with the gear inside the accessory case. Only the clutch disengages after the engine starts, not the gear. If the clutch does not disengage after the engine starts, the engine will start to turn the starter. This will cause big and expensive problems. The hand prop comes in last in my book (Sorry Sam). My hangar mate has a Varieze with no starter. I've seen him almost pass out trying to prop start his warm engine on a hot day.

Performance is close on all models. They all can get you started. The hand prop might give out on you, if the engine should decide to get finicky.

The repair, or overhaul cost, makes the pull starter standout above the rest. The original pull starter and the original key starter are probably in a tie, if you just have to repair the motor side. I know you can find all of the replacement parts for the pull motor from automotive sources. I have a seen a complete

rebuild kit for a pull starter in Trade-A-Plane for $27. The pull starter runs away from the original key starter when you price the clutch. I don't know if you can buy replacement parts for the other models. I know you can't buy a replacement hand or arm. (Well, maybe in China). You may have to send them back for overhaul or repair. Do you know what a hospital visit would cost you to get a broken hand or arm repaired? That is, if you still have a hand. Hand propping is very dangerous.

The major problem with the original Continental key starter is its reliability. The clutch was poorly designed. It stays engaged with the engine gear all the time and this wears on the clutch and has been known to cause regular problems. The clutch is also expensive to replace.

A major problem with the B&C starter is you have to modify the Q200 upper right engine mount to get the starter to fit. You also have to remove a steel pin from the engine before the B&C starter can be attached There are two ways to do this. Split the cases and remove the pin or as others have done, just grind it down flush with the case.

I think the main drawback to the new Continental starter may be its cost. While I don't know the exact figures, I know it's expensive. I'm pretty sure it's more expensive than the B&C.

The new Sky-Tec starter is reasonably priced for a new starter that you have to buy outright with no core charge. Its performance should be comparable to the B&C. The starter gear does disengage from the engine after you release the starter button, like the B&C. Another nice thing about the Sky-Tec starter, it should just bolt onto Q200 without the mods required for the B&C starter.

The downside to the pull starter is its weight. It is equal to, or a little bit heavier than, the original key model. The other three all weigh about the same. The hand prop model comes out a big winner in this area. It has zero weight; one of Rutan's favorites. You might even to be able to get into negative numbers, if you think about the calories you burn while hand propping.

Another downside to the pull starter is the pull cable. The pull cable is not as easy to set up as running a wire for the key starter. If you look through the back issues of Q-TALK, you will find several articles on how to setup a pull starter cable. I do have to admit that I have the simplest cable setup that I know of. I have a T-handle on the lower part of the center instrument panel. From there the cable goes through the accessory box and directly to the starter handle (modified). It is very easy to pull and has worked flawlessly for over 300 hours. I have a starter button on the left side of the accessory box that I activate with my foot. I use my left hand to work the throttle and the right hand to pull the starter. You do have to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time to operate it, though.

If you do hand prop your motor, ask Sam Hoskins to show you his method. He has a unique technique that has served him well for hundreds of starts.

You can order a printed copy of Q-talk #91 by using the Q-talk Back Issue Order Page.