Starting with starting Part 1 -- Gas-powered rental equipment

By JimRental

Here are a few thoughts on starting gas-powered rental equipment:

  • 1. Go through the starting instructions a second time – Ask the rental yard guy to repeat his instructions – makeup questions if you need to buy time --“Should I have the choke open and the throttle full at the same time?” Or “Will it start while in gear?” Or “What should I look for if it’s not starting?” Anything to extend the conversation, and let the directions sink in.

  • 2. Get a grip on Choke – The choke changes the mix of air and gas that goes into the engine, to pump in more gas at start-up than the engine needs when it’s up and running.

  • It’s called the choke because it chokes the air supply – hey that makes sense! For most equipment, start-up is the only time the choke is open. On a lot of engines,the choke is a lever with a range, from fully open to fully closed. Make sure you understand which is which at the rental yard! Generally, with most gas-powered machines, you start with the throttle on low, and an open choke. After it’s running for a short time, you close down the choke.

  • 3. Pump it up – A lot of hand-held equipment, like chain saws or trimmers, have a little plastic primer bulb you push to get gas into the engine before you start it. you push the primer button four to eight times before starting.

  • 4. Watch the smoke signals – If an overwhelming smell of gas or puffs of blue smoke seem to be the only apparent results of pulling on the starter rope, the combustion chamber of the engine is flooded with gas – basically, there’s so much gas there’s no room for air in there. Step away from the machine for a minute. Close down the choke, turn the throttle to low. After a couple of minutes, pull on the starter rope a few times to clear away the excess gas. Then follow your starting routine.

  • 5. Check the ON switch – This one gets me most often on power washers, but you’ll commonly find on/off switches on larger machines with electric ignitions. If a machine just doesn’t seem to be firing up, I can say from personal experience that it can help a great deal if you double-check to make sure that the switch is set to ON.

  • 6. Take a break and have a drink of water – If you’ve flooded the engine, time is on your side. Take a break, and come back to machine in a couple of minutes. If there's a strong smell of gasoline, wait a bit longer..

  • 7. Start over by closing down the choke and throttle, and clearing the gas away with a few pulls as noted above. Then, start over at three-fourths the levels you tried initially – open the throttle less. Close the choke down a little, and/or pump the bulb half as many times as before.

You can do it. We know you can. For a few thoughts on starting equipment that won’t restart after running, look for “Begin with Starting Part 2 – “It was running fine, and now I can’t start it”