Author Topic: Auxiliary Engine Starting  (Read 7700 times)

Mental Avenger

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Auxiliary Engine Starting
« on: April 24, 2010, 10:28:15 AM »
Yesterday I saw an “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” episode where some hunters were stranded because the battery in their truck was dead and they couldn’t get it started.  That got me to thinking about how to solve that problem.

I remember seeing old war movies where they started aircraft engines with a hand crank.  It appeared to be a mechanism with a flywheel.  The hand crank would slowly get the flywheel up to speed, and then they could engage a clutch that allowed the flywheel to turn the engine.  It allowed a single person to start a very large engine with a huge prop attached.  I wonder if something similar could be rigged to start vehicle engines in emergencies.

An alternate device might use a hand crank to wind up a very strong spring which could be used to turn the engine rapidly.

A third option would be to have a device installed that allowed the engine compression to be vented until the engine got up to speed with whatever starting device was used.  An engine is a lot easier to turn without compression.  Once up to speed, the momentum of the engine components could start the engine once compression was engaged.

Offline Diablo

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2010, 12:13:56 PM »
Air Starter: http://www.cvisairstarters.com/airstarters/ingersollrand/

Saw a post on another forum and the guy was installing one of them on his truck.

I would  just add a Dual Battery Control System, that way you should always have a good battery.

Mental Avenger

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2010, 05:17:10 PM »
An air starter merely trades one form of stored energy for another.  Where would you get the 150-450 psi air to drive the air starter?

Offline RacinRob

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2010, 06:03:46 PM »
Stick to manual trannies and start pushing.

Offline Diablo

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2010, 08:16:24 AM »
An air starter merely trades one form of stored energy for another.  Where would you get the 150-450 psi air to drive the air starter?

I'm not sure.

I saw a post on another forum and the guy said that by using it, he wouldn't have to worry about needing power to start his truck. I guess he has a plan or he wouldn't be installing it. But the idea doesn't sound very economical to me.

I think a dual battery set up is the simplest solution, so you don't have to worry about having power when you need it.

Mental Avenger

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2010, 09:29:35 AM »
I'm not sure.

I saw a post on another forum and the guy said that by using it, he wouldn't have to worry about needing power to start his truck. I guess he has a plan or he wouldn't be installing it. But the idea doesn't sound very economical to me.
Air starters are common on trucks, especially diesel trucks, because they usually already have an air tank for the air brakes.  The compressed air stored in the tank can be used to start the engine.  If the air leaks out, the engine won’t start.

Offline chromesoldier

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2010, 10:52:38 AM »
The easiest way is just insta a battery box with an isolater and spare battery. If you are worried about dead batteries or no battery the are lots of tricks to start a vehicle with or with out auto trans. Installing something to start the engine outside the battery just leaves room for aot of trouble. And tryingto secure it so o thers wont sart your vehicle with it. Its as easy as keeping a solar battery tender on the dash. In the days of no battery you woud have too right now it is not much of an option.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2010, 11:54:48 AM »
An air starter can be driven in a variety of ways. I've seen scuba tanks used on aircraft, since the air motor plus scuba tank was lighter than a battery and motor. They were used extensively on WWII era radial engines.

Another option, if you have some machining skills, is to put together a CO2 driven air tool to spin your crank, or to modify an air motor with a cutout or selector valve and a quick connector so you can toss a CO2 tank into the circuit in a pinch. They're small, and I'd say they have enough pressure and volume to run a couple of starts if you spring a leak in the tank connections. Not much good if the leak is downstream near or at the air motor.

There are also some very reliable systems in race cars for using air or CO2 for actuating an electronically controlled manual transmission. I think a medium sized CO2 tank (for paintball) was going to run something like 10,000 shifts. I didn't like it since it only gained us a teensy few milliseconds in shift times, and introduced alot of complexity.

Another starting method used on aircraft was the cartdridge starter. A shotgun shell or small rocket motor or similar was inserted into a breech on or near the engine block, and the pressure was used to drive either a piston + rack/pinion gear or a small gas turbine to spin up the engine. This was used on the J4-jenny, IIRC. sort of a *pop* *sputter sputter* *roar*.  Only problem is if it doesn't start the first time, you have to get out, replace the cartridge, and try again, and the whole system takes up part of your space and weight budget, though it adds little to complexity since it's only a few parts that move very little if at all after the engine is running.


For what it's worth, I'd stick to a small spare battery with a quality disconnect that you can switch into the circuit, that'll hold a start or two worth of juice.

Mental Avenger

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2010, 12:44:56 PM »
A battery is stored energy, and is useless if the energy is not stored in the battery when you need it.  Compressed CO2 is stored energy, and would be difficult to find after TSHTF.  I was looking for something that did not use stored energy, something that could spin an engine even if you did not have access to electricity, compressed air, CO2 etc.  Once an engine is running, it produces its own electricity.

Yes, I realize that gasoline is also stored energy.  However, if you don’t have any gasoline, there is no reason to try to start the engine.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2010, 02:53:40 PM »
There's no way to start an engine without stored energy of some kind. The only way that's reasonable that doesn't require stored energy outside your body (you're still using stored energy in the glycogen and ATP  in your muscles, and in turn blood glucose and stored fat and protien reserves...) is to use something like a small alternator on a weed eater or small briggs engine, forming an APU,  and perhaps a small battery or ultracapacitor, preferably the latter, since they have shelf lives in the vicinity of several human lifetimes, so that you can charge said cap up with the APU, then use it as your starter battery. The cap has the advantage of being able to store up charge at a rapid rate, and release it even faster, and since you only need to get through one or two revolutions for the motor to start, generally, you don't need a whole charged battery to do it, just something capable of dumping enough amps to run the starter motor for a second or two. The advantage here is that you're pull starting the briggs or zenoah (they make most of your two stroke weed eater motors in the U.S.) and it's also a handy little APU for other things like charging battery banks at your BOL and the like.

The only other option is the cartridge start method, whereby you stock up on 12 ga blanks and git-er-dun that way. Still stored energy, but if you can't unload buckshot and just use the powder charge post SHTF, then you've got other things to worry about than not being able to start the car - you need to find yourself some buckshot, and a knife, for a variety of other purposes.


The CO2 thing is a viable solution since you'd have one or two of the tanks under your seat,and they'd only be used as a backup until you got your battery fixed,  but the disadvantage of anything other than the APU setup is that it will only work on your vehicle, which you have modified for the backup solution in advance. The APU doesn't have to be permanently mounted anywhere, and if you use something like a motorcycle alternator and the weed eater engine, then you should be able to put it into a box about the size of a loaf of bread - and I'm willing to bet it'd weigh less than 15 pounds if you use a stock polyethylene gas tank for the weed eater. Just be sure you store a bottle of 2 cycle oil with it, or go with a 4 stroke weed eater.




Offline bartsdad

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2010, 12:02:00 AM »
Air starters are common on trucks, especially diesel trucks, because they usually already have an air tank for the air brakes.  The compressed air stored in the tank can be used to start the engine.  If the air leaks out, the engine won’t start.


Actually air starters are quiet rare now a days on diesel trucks (at least anything run on the roads).

OB is correct. You need stored energy to start an engine. Even gravity(rolling a vehicle down a hill and popping the clutch) is stored energy.

Proper vehicle maintenance should reduce the risk.We are PREPPERS after all.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2010, 07:03:06 AM »
A crank start for a modern car / truck is not very feasible. Something like a model T had manual choke, manual spark advance and only made about 20hp. Even so, if you were not careful a kick back could kill you. Now, attach the same crank to a 200+hp truck - no thanks.

Get yourself something like a 450cc single cylinder dirt bike and spend the afternoon kicking that over. Might make you abandon this train of thought.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2010, 08:49:17 AM »
To save you the effort of a google search, here's a chicken stick, and one of the reasons I switched to electric R/C aircraft...

Starting Nitro Plane Engine after few months

Offline chromesoldier

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2010, 09:05:20 AM »
In Iraq i watched locals take a rope and wrap it around the crankshaft flywheel and pull start it that way. Seen them do it daily. Makes everything else seem to complicated when doing that.

Offline Diablo

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2010, 09:54:23 PM »
A battery is stored energy, and is useless if the energy is not stored in the battery when you need it.  Compressed CO2 is stored energy, and would be difficult to find after TSHTF.  I was looking for something that did not use stored energy, something that could spin an engine even if you did not have access to electricity, compressed air, CO2 etc.  Once an engine is running, it produces its own electricity.

Yes, I realize that gasoline is also stored energy.  However, if you don’t have any gasoline, there is no reason to try to start the engine.


Based on your requirement, I think RacinRob suggestion is the only one that comes close...Stick to manual trans and start pushing.

Mental Avenger

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2010, 12:06:55 AM »
There's no way to start an engine without stored energy of some kind.
I was referring to starting an engine without pre-packaged pre-stored energy, which is what batteries, compressed gasses, gasoline generators etc. are.  As I pointed out in the OP, I was thinking along the lines of a device in which you could temporarily store energy manually as needed.  A hand crank could be used to spin up a flywheel, or wind up a spring.  Both can potentially store a great deal of energy.  The idea is to mechanically store energy over a longer period of time, then release it in a short burst.




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Mental Avenger

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2010, 12:16:31 AM »
A crank start for a modern car / truck is not very feasible. Something like a model T had manual choke, manual spark advance and only made about 20hp. Even so, if you were not careful a kick back could kill you. Now, attach the same crank to a 200+hp truck - no thanks.
As pointed out, the procedure would be to use a hand crank to mechanically store mechanical energy.  I understand that a hand crank on a modern V8 engine would not be practical.

Get yourself something like a 450cc single cylinder dirt bike and spend the afternoon kicking that over. Might make you abandon this train of thought.
When I was young, we had a Ford tractor with a four cylinder engine.  It had a hand crank to start it if the battery was dead.  It wasn’t easy, but it did work.

And BTW, I have had 18 different motorcycles, all the way from a Whizzer Motorbike to a Gold Wing.  Several of them were kick start, including one Harley Davidson and a 1000cc Ariel Square Four.  I know about kick starting.

Mental Avenger

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2010, 12:21:01 AM »
In Iraq i watched locals take a rope and wrap it around the crankshaft flywheel and pull start it that way. Seen them do it daily. Makes everything else seem to complicated when doing that.
Our twin cylinder irrigation pump had a rope start.  Just put the knot into the slot and wrap the rope around the pulley about 5 times.  Brace your foot and pull very hard.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2010, 09:19:46 AM »
Air start plus manual pump, then.

At some point a spring loaded dohickey would get too hard to crank for a large engine, and the rope-pull would suck arse on anything other than a couple of cylinders.

Either that, or the briggs+alternator, since if you don't have gas to run the briggs, why are you worried about the other engine anyway? ;-)

Also, as far as a crank start, didn't the handles have some sort of ratchet mechanism in them? Or would that make too much sense...?

Offline bartsdad

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Re: Auxiliary Engine Starting
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2010, 09:40:33 AM »
Air start plus manual pump, then.

At some point a spring loaded dohickey would get too hard to crank for a large engine, and the rope-pull would suck arse on anything other than a couple of cylinders.

Either that, or the briggs+alternator, since if you don't have gas to run the briggs, why are you worried about the other engine anyway? ;-)

Also, as far as a crank start, didn't the handles have some sort of ratchet mechanism in them? Or would that make too much sense...?

It wasn't so much a ratchet, as is was a safety so when it started, it didn't come around and break your arm. Not that that was ever the safest method, but ....