How to Rebuild the Pull Start on an Evinrude 15HP

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When you rebuild the pull start on an Evinrude 15 HP outboard motor, you're embarking on an adventure. The starter is spring loaded and you are holding the starter assembly together with one hand during removal and installation. If you allow the spring to gain the upper hand at any time, the starter might fly--not fall--apart just before you begin rebuilding or re-installing. You might even suffer an injury from a flying part, thrown by a strong spring under tension.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Acetone

  • Air compressor

  • Clean cloth

  • Machine oil

  • Replacement spring

  • Replacement rope

  • File

  • White marine grease

  • Thread locker

  • Safety glasses

  • Sturdy leather gloves

Lift the idle -gear-arm, idler gear and the idler gear-arm spring out of the starter's housing. Lift the pulley slightly and work the spring free of the pulley with a screwdriver, without releasing the spring from the cup in the cup-and-stop assembly. Unwind the rope counterclockwise to remove it from the pulley.

Slide the two bushings off the idler gear arm. Slide the bushings from each side of the pulley. Set all of the metal parts into a metal basin and wash them in acetone. Use compressed air to blow-dry them.

Dampen a clean cloth with machine oil and wipe the surfaces metal parts with it. Replace the spring if it's damaged or weak. Replace the rope if it's frayed. To do this, use a file to remove the rough edges of the hole the rope passes through. Apply white marine grease to the spring and the inside of the cup that houses the rope and pulley.

Reinstall the small flat washer in the cup-and-stop assembly. Install the cup-and-stop assembly over the pulley, taking care to position the spring through the tabs of the assembly.

Fit the through-bolt through the center of cup-and-stop assembly and thread the nut onto the bolt. Press down on the pulley as you turn the pulley counterclockwise to wind the spring. Continue turning until the outside loop of the spring engages the face of the starter-assembly. Release the pulley slowly to let the spring tension ease gradually. Apply thread locker to the threads of the shoulder screws.

Hold the starter-assembly with one hand and remove the through-bolt with the other. Clip the idler gear arm spring to the gear arm and place the gear on the arm. Slide the shoulder screw through the mounting hole in the idler gear arm. Install the arm over the pulley, ensuring the arm stop is between the two tabs on the cup-and-stop assembly.

Hold the entire assembly together one hand and place it back on the motor. Continue to hold the assembly together and thread the mounting screws through the mounting tabs of the assembly until the assembly is secure on the motor. Tighten the screws with the screwdriver.


  • Wear safety glasses and sturdy leather gloves throughout the whole process to protect your self from injury.