One of the most common engines found on push lawn mowers is the Briggs and Stratton. The most common repairs are either replacing a starter rope or replacing the recoil spring. The recoil spring draws the rope back around the pulley each time you pull on the rope. When the recoil spring breaks, the rope will just hang loose when you pull. Changing a recoil starter spring on the small Briggs engine requires removing the rope from the pulley. Replacement recoil springs are available at home improvement centers and Briggs and Stratton dealers.
Unplug the spark plug wire from the spark plug. Locate and, with a nut driver, remove the three screws that secure the starter rope housing to the top of the Briggs and Stratton engine.
Lift the starter rope cover off the top of the engine. Locate the tabs that secure the rope pulley into the inside top of the cover. Bend the tabs up with a pair of needle nose pliers.
Lift the pulley out of the cover as much as the starter rope will allow. There may be a piece of the metal coil spring on the backside of the pulley. Remove the broken recoil spring from the inside of the starter rope cover.
Untie the end of the starter rope from the pulley, and pull the starter rope off the pulley. Place the new recoil spring inside the starter rope cover with the inside end against the center metal tab.
Place the starter rope pulley over the recoil spring, lining up the tab on the backside of the pulley with the outside end of the spring. You may have to jiggle the pulley slightly back and forth until the end of the spring engages the tab on the pulley.
Press the pulley holding tabs back over the pulley with the needle nose pliers. Rotate the pulley counterclockwise to wind the recoil spring. Continue rotating until the pulley will not rotate. Clamp the pulley securely to the starter cover with a pair of vise grips to prevent the spring from unwinding while you install the starter rope.
Insert the end of the starter rope through the hole on the outside of the cover and into the hole through the pulley. Grasp the end of the rope inside the hole of the starter pulley with a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the end through.
Tie the end of the rope, and pull the rope to press the tied end against the pulley. Hold the rope from the outside of the cover with one hand, and release the vise grips. Slowly release your grip on the rope, allowing the recoil spring to wind the rope around the pulley.
Place the starter housing over the top of the engine and secure with the retaining screws. Push the end of the spark plug wire over the spark plug.