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Cold starting 0-360 (does manual propeller rotation do anything?)

I’m prepared to be shot down here, not that this happens on EuroGA but…

A maintenance organisation has suggested that to increase engine life an O-360 should be “pulled through” 3-4 times before starting (mags off) in cold weather. I have never heard of or seen of anyone doing this. Apart from the obvious risk of the mags not actually being off and the outcome this might produce, is anyone else doing this? Can anyone see why to or not to do this?

EGBP, United Kingdom

Have they offered any explanation as to why that would help? Sounds like a Rotax startup procedure.

EPKP - Kraków, Poland

Never heard of that, especially with that engine! What would it be hoping to achieve? I don’t think it would have real affect of oil circulation? More risk of people pulling through wrong way and potentially damaging accessories as well perhaps.

Posts are personal views only.
Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

They haven’t and it is second hand news to me as it is a group aircraft. My thoughts so far are fairly consistent with those above.

Unless there is any positive feedback this one will be banished to the rubbish bin.

EGBP, United Kingdom

Its not exactly unusual to pull through a Lycoming, typically to check compression on all four cylinders. Some people like to do it before startup and I guess in cold weather it might wipe off any pooled, thick oil that’s on the cylinder walls. No big deal either way.

Prior to starting on cold mornings, it is advisable to pull the propeller through several times by hand to “break loose” or “limber” the oil, thus conserving battery energy.

Quoted verbatim from a Cessna 182S POH. Piper doesn’t have this recommendation. Interesting that Cessna includes it in new generation Cessnas, given the other risks of hand propping.

Oxford (EGTK)

I bought plugs & jump start battery, it should start in cold winter without me touching the propeller of on Lyco360 whatever the problem in hand fiddling with propellers seems to belong to J3/PA18 with C65/C95, at least they have notging attached to their engines !

I do it on Rotax to be able to check oil level…

Last Edited by Ibra at 09 Oct 21:13
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

I’ve not heard of this.

I must admit I tend to pull through a few blades on mine before first start. I guess just incase I feel anything untoward. I’m not convinced it does any good, but I also don’t think it does any harm.

This is the sort of suggestion that normally has me reaching for the expletive but as we are asked to run a polite and civil ship here on euroga I shall just say I can think of no reason that this should help engine life even in the coldest temperatures found in the UK.

However if you want to prolong the life of your battery and starter motor you would do well to invest in a slickstart.

Unfortunately, there is some history with this. And, yes, as a better than nothing choice, I have done it. However, if you think that you need to pull through a prop because the engine is cold, you need to properly preheat the engine for a length of time before you attempt to start it. If you have pulled through the engine to “unstick the oil”, your attempt to electric start it is verging on abusive to to the starter and the engine. Prior to having electricity in my hangar, I used to pull through my O-200 as the first element of my cold (and abusive) start procedure. Then, I would prime it, and pull through the prime. Then, I would hand prop start it, so I would not be abusing the starter too. The next season, I installed electricity, and engine preheaters, and I use an engine blanket. Occasionally, I’d be responding to a late night emergency search call, so would not have anticipated that by preheating, then I would apply the cold start procedure I described, and always got decent starts with no starter nor battery abuse.

I will hand start my O-200, as only I fly it, and I do live mag checks every preflight check. I am confident I have a well behaving ignition system. I would be very reluctant to turn over an unknown plane by hand. I will not hand prop my O-360, is it’s a reversing MT prop (so I don’t want to abuse the prop blades), and I can’t reach the prop anyway. So, preheat with an engine blanket.

If the airworthiness of the ignition system is known to you, and you have absolutely no choice than a totally cold start, and you feel comfortable pulling the engine through by hand, doing so will reduce the starter loads. Some starters work close to their limits of torque, (old style “key start” in a C 150) so abusing them drastically reduces their life. Anything you can do to reduce starting loads helps starter life. But cold starts, no matter how done, reduce engine life, so best to preheat.

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada
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