Your trusty Poulan weed trimmer has been there for you season after season, helping to tame the grass and weeds in your yard. All you had to do was set the choke, push the primer bulb and pull the starter rope, and you were off. When the starter rope snaps from all the seasons of starting, replacing it on a model such as the Poulan Pro P033 is quick and painless.
Understanding Starter Ropes
It helps to understand what the starter rope does and how it works before taking things apart. Beyond the starter handle attached to the end of the rope, there is a lot going on. The rope extends from the recoil starter assembly where it is wound onto a pulley. Each time you pull the rope, the pulley turns, allowing the rope to extend out from the machine and turn the crankshaft to start the trimmer. When you release the cord, it winds back onto the pulley. A rewind spring behind the pulley provides the tension to rewind the rope and is at the heart of the recoil starter system on a Poulan trimmer.
Accessing the Pulley
When its time to dive in and get your hands dirty, the first thing to do is make the Poulan trimmer safe to work on. To do this, find the spark plug wire and pull the black rubber boot on the end of the wire off the tip of the spark plug to prevent the trimmer from accidentally starting. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the recoil starter assembly in place on the back of the trimmer. Pull the assembly straight off the back of the trimmer and lay it down on a work surface, like a workbench or table, with the inside of the assembly facing up.
Replacing the Starter Rope
If the cord is not broken, but still needs to be replaced, pull the rope out several inches from the assembly. Untie the knot holding the starter handle in place, then remove the handle. Slowly guide the rope as the pulley winds it back under tension. If the rope is broken, the pulley tension will already be released. Simply pull any old rope off the pulley and pull the handle off the rope. You next need to remove the screw from the center of the starter assembly. Pull off the black starter hub and the starter hub spring underneath. At this point, put on a pair of safety glasses to protect your eyes from the rewind spring because it has sharp edges. Lift the pulley carefully out of the assembly. If the rope was not broken, this is the point where you will remove it from the pulley. Get a replacement starter rope from a hardware store or engine repair shop. Tie a simple overhand knot in one end and insert the other end through the hole in the center of the pulley. Pull all of the rope through until the knot sits against the pulley. Wrap the new rope around the pulley channel then set the pulley back into the assembly and hold it against the pulley. You will need to move the pulley back and forth to engage the rewind spring.
Putting Everything Back Together
Take a deep breath because you are almost there. Place the starter hub spring back on the pulley and the starter hub over the spring. Secure the assembly together with the screw that you took out earlier. At this point, it is time to add tension back to the pulley. While still holding the rope against the pulley, turn the pulley counterclockwise four turns and insert the rope through the hole in the cover. To attach the starter handle on the rope, pull out the starter cord and wrap it around your handle a couple of turns to prevent it from winding back into the assembly. Insert the end of the rope through the hole in the handle, tie an overhand knot and pull the knot down against the top of the handle. Slowly guide the rope back into the assembly. Place the assembly back on the trimmer and secure it in place with the screws you took out. Connect the spark plug wire back to the spark plug and you are ready to start trimming.