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I have an old Simpson's-Sears Craftsman Rototiller. It has been running fine, but suddenly stopped. I noticed there was no spark. I removed the rewind starter assembly and noticed that the flywheel keyway and the motor shaft keyway were out of line by about 15 degrees. I thought this might be enough difference between the magneto and the breaker points to cause the problem. The flywheel was able to move on the shaft because it appeared the key had shattered. When I removed the flywheel, I saw a warning that a steel key should not be used. The pieces of the old broken key were of a non-magnetic material which appeared to be aluminum. Am I on the right track as far as my suspicion about the timing being out because of the movement of the flywheel on the shaft? Is the key I'm looking for an aluminum key and is it a normal Briggs and Stratton part? Why won't a steel key do the job? Thanks Don

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You are on the right track. They use aluminum so that any sudden stop to the crankshaft allows for that little bit of give after the sudden stop to allow engine parts time to slow down. A complete sudden stop could mess up the rods, valves, and possibly the crank itself because of inertia. A steel key wouldn't shear or "break" as easily and would allow for a complete sudden stop. All the engine parts (due to inertia or stored energy) do not easily immediately stop. The aluminum key shears and has a braking effect on the inertia driven engine allowing it to slow down further. Install a new aluminum one (very cheap) and your timing issue there is solved. The replacement key is a very normal, standard Briggs part. They usually shear on a lawnmower when the blade hits an immovable object. I don't know if your machine hit anything. but now you know.

Posted on Mar 31, 2011

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