How to Replace the Pull Cord on a Stihl KM 56 RC Trimmer

Updated on December 5, 2017
eddiecarrara profile image

Eddie spent 33 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and has bruised knuckles to prove it.

Replacing a Broken Trimmer Rope

It never fails: Just as you are about to tackle some yard work on a Saturday morning, the pull cord on your Stihl trimmer breaks. Now you're stuck replacing a pull cord rope adding another hour to your yard work and losing an hour of your day off. How are you supposed to relax on the weekend if you're constantly fixing your tools? It's my hope that these easy to follow instructions will get your Stihl trimmer up and running quickly, so you can get busy relaxing.

If you're working on a Stilh KM 56 RC trimmer, you're in luck because that is the machine I will be working on in this article. One tool you will need, above all others, is a plug socket tool with a torx bit on the other end. This tool should have come with your Stilh KM 56 RC trimmer when you bought it. If you don't have one, buy one. It's worth its weight in gold. You will also need a new pull cord. I've listed links to both the torx bit and the pull cord below.

Tools You Need to Replace a Stihl Trimmer Pull Cord

Magnet, snap ring pliers, large and small needle-nose pliers, and a Stihl torx/plug socket.
Magnet, snap ring pliers, large and small needle-nose pliers, and a Stihl torx/plug socket. | Source

Overview

Here is an outline of the steps you will need to follow in order to replace your pull cord. Pictures and more detailed steps can be found below.

  1. Remove the end cover.
  2. Remove the snap ring.
  3. Disassemble the unit into two pieces.
  4. Remove the coil from the shaft.
  5. Hold the spring in place after removing coil.
  6. Remove the broken piece of rope.
  7. Clean out debris on the cover.
  8. Measure out a new piece of rope.
  9. Thread the new rope into the coil assembly.
  10. Tie a small knot at the end of the rope and pull it into the coil pocket.
  11. Wind the pull cord rope around the coil.
  12. Reinstall the coil into the housing.
  13. Turn the coil two revolutions clockwise to add tension.
  14. Thread the rope through the hole in the end cover.
  15. Install the handle.
  16. Reinstall the end cover.

1. Remove the end cover. This will house the complete pull cord rope assembly.

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2. Remove the snap ring that holds the pull cord rope assembly on the shaft.

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3. Notice how the unit splits in two pieces. Also, notice how and where the spring is located.

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4. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the coil unit from the shaft. Pull upwards to easily remove it from the shaft.

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5. Once removed, hold the spring in place with your thumb to prevent it from falling out.

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6. Remove the broken piece of rope from the coil unit.

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7. Clean out debris on the cover.

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8. Measure out a new piece of rope using the broken piece, adding a few inches in case of error. Melt the end with a lighter to make threading easier.

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9. Thread the new piece of rope into the coil assembly.

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10. Tie a small knot at the end of the rope and pull it into the coil pocket.

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11. Wind the pull cord rope around the coil, using a piece of scotch tape to hold the rope in the groove.

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12. Reinstall the coil into the housing, spinning it slowly until it drops into place. Do not force the coil, or you may damage the spring.

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13. Turn the coil two revolutions counterclockwise to add tension to the return spring.

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14. Hold the coil in place while you thread the rope through the hole in the end cover. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers.

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15. Install the handle while holding onto the rope.

15. Install the handle while holding onto the rope.
15. Install the handle while holding onto the rope. | Source

16. Reinstall the cover on the trimmer unit. You are finished!

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Put Your Stihl Trimmer Back to Work

Now get to work and trim your heart out! If you have any questions about the installation, let me know by leaving a question or comment in the box below.

Questions & Answers

  • How do I wind the bottom spring of my trimmer?

    See Step 13 from my article. Turn the coil two revolutions counterclockwise to add tension to the return spring.

  • My string got hot and melted after the second replacement. How long should the string be? Do you know if I should use the 3 or 4mm Stihl string? The 4mm string gets lodged under the housing for the recoil spring.

    The string length should be about 2' 6''. I recommend using the 3mm string and do not overfill the spool.

Comments

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    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Lee,

      No, I don't know the size, but if you call a small engine repair shop I'm sure they'll have it in their books.

    • profile image

      lee kulberda 

      4 months ago

      Hi Eddie

      I've lost the bolts to the back cover on my KM 56 RC. Do you happen to know the sizes for them?

      lk

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Karen,

      I'm so glad you found my my information useful, and I really appreciate you taking the time to write a comment, you made my day :)

    • profile image

      Karen 

      5 months ago

      After hours of watching videos trying to fix my pull cord I found your video, its excellent good pictures and explanations so easy to follow for an old dear like me, thank you.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Thanks for the feedback Virgil :)

    • profile image

      Virgil Smith 

      8 months ago

      Replaced rope on pole pruner. It has the exact same recoil mechanism. Had to use tweezers rather than needle nose. A very small needle nose would probably work. Have your wife thread the cord through the handle at the end. It's hard to keep the tension on the spring and thread the cord at the same time! Thanks, good pictures and explanation!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kenneth,

      Not really, I just needed to fix my machine so I took pictures along the way and created a step by step tutorial :) Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it.

    • KenDeanAgudo profile image

      Kenneth C Agudo 

      11 months ago from Tiwi, Philippines

      Wow. Very clear and easy to follow. Surely, you are expert with this one. Thanks

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      24 months ago from New Hampshire

      I Agree 100% Jack, about the politicians lol.

    • profile image

      Jack 

      24 months ago

      Very nice article! If only our politicians were this clear and efficient. Thanks for the help.....

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hey Scott,

      We all lean by trial and error, I struggled with mine and then wrote the article and took pictures just to help others with the same issue. Your feed back is very important, so thanks for taking the time to comment :)

    • profile image

      Scott 

      2 years ago

      Thanks eddiecarrara, very good article, I wish I would have read it first. Like Chris D and Rolf, my bottom spring popped off. I should have been more careful removing the spool. After rewinding and installing, the inner coil wasn't tight enough to engage in the inner recess where it needs to hook for recoil, so I probably need to buy a new rotor with rewind spring as described above. Thanks guys for the part number!

    • profile image

      Rolf von Andrian 

      2 years ago

      http://www.lsengineers.co.uk/rope-rotor-with-rewin...

      I had the same trouble as ChrisD with the underside spring popped out. The trick is to put the spring back in to the casing the other way around as it is bend when is lays tensionless on the table. If you check the link above you can see how it should look like at then end.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 years ago from New Hampshire

      Good info Chris, and thanks for taking the time to share it. It's people like you who keep this page going because there are so many problems you can run into when changing the pull cord, I only could share what I experienced when changing out my pull cord, I'm sure the info you shared will help many :)

    • profile image

      Chris D 

      2 years ago

      Thanks very much Eddie. This is very useful information. I had the same problem as Tom N and LittleMCCBW where the underside spring popped out. The ring clip was missing on my unit (assume it broke off at some stage) so the rotor assembly flew out when I performed Step 1 above. The underside spring also had the strange set where two thirds of it wrapped 1 way, the other third wrapped the other way. It possibly develops this way when used since it doesn't start it's life out like this. When new it is wrapped tight up to the last 3 turns which then slowly angle in towards the center. But there seems to be no way that I could find to make it sit like this once it has been used. So if this bottom spring pops the best option is to buy a new module (it's called a "rope rotor with rewind spring" (Stihl Part Number: 4144-190-1111). I have a picture of the way the underside spring looks when it is new (no way to post this pic that I can see). I battled trying to reinstall the underside spring for a couple of hours so hopefully this addendum saves someone some time!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jared,

      Sorry, not a clue, bring it to a hardware store and match it up, if it's missing, bring the part with you and find something that fits.

    • profile image

      Jared 

      3 years ago

      Long story short, I have to replace the snap ring. Do you know what size it is?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 years ago from New Hampshire

      Cool, thanks for the update Tom, I really appreciate it :)

    • profile image

      Tom N 

      3 years ago

      Thanks. Turns out the lower spring took a strange set. Even the Stihl service tech couldn't get it back in. Got a new pulley for a few bucks, am now back in business.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tom,

      Take a close look at pic #10 and #12, that should help, study the way the spring sit's in the holder and just repeat :) Let me know how you make out Tom, thanks.

    • profile image

      Tom N 

      3 years ago

      Eddie, if you're still out there... fumbled the pulley and dropped it. Bottom spring fell out. The spring first wraps one way, then the other. Can't figure out how to wrap it back in. Can you help? Thanks

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jon,

      Thank you for the comment, it's very much appreciated. I do this kinda of stuff for people like you, someone who is just looking for answers to a problem they're having, so you are very welcome.

    • profile image

      JonSEAZ 

      4 years ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I broke my pull cord (through, I think, not fully understanding how to use properly the Easy2 Start system) and located your instructions on the Internet at http://hubpages.com/hub/Stihl-KM-56-RC-Trimmer-Pul... Great photos and instructions. Simple, complete written instructions accompanied by clear photographs. Better than most factory manuals. Thanks a bunch. You are doing a great service here.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hey Poop, just #2 Philip head screws

    • profile image

      Poop 

      4 years ago

      What kind of screw on front plate?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi MA,

      Wind it on the spool until it's just under the top of the spool sides, I believe it's just about 2 feet of cord. Let me know if this helps, thanks.

    • profile image

      MA 

      4 years ago

      Any ideas on he length of the cord? The whole thing broke on ours and we are trying to replace now, but need to know the length. Help!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi LittleMCCBW,

      I have never had that spring out before so I'm not sure of a trick to re-install it. Sorry I don't have an answer, but you must have to wind it tight enough to slip it into place?

    • profile image

      LittleMCCBW 

      4 years ago

      Hi Eddie thank you for the instructions, unfortunately, I stupidly tried to do after reading only once. I had to leave to borrow a snap ring pliers and should have waited. I didn't tape rope into groove and when I went to turn counter clockwise to put tension on return spring, somehow the rope got tangled up and when I pulled the coil assembly out a second time to fix it, the smaller spring underneath that you don't show in your pictures just POPPED RIGHT OUT!! Scared me to death, but now I haven't been able to get the spring wound tight enough to put back together. My hands get sore and tired and start cramping up fast. That spring is a bear. Help, is there a trick I can use??

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hey Mr Crab, to add tension to the rope, check out step 12, 13, and 14. Let me know if this helps, thanks.

    • profile image

      mr crab 

      4 years ago

      I have a stihl fs 56rc trimmer. I am installing a new pull rope and I can't get any tension on my spring to hold while I tie off the other end.

      How do you put tension on this string while your pulling the rope forward? Am I missing something???

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tomcat,

      I haven't taken this apart in a while, but I'm pretty sure you're talking about step 13 in the pictures. Turn the coil counterclockwise two revolutions to add some tension to the return spring, but before you do this step, make sure you do step 12, spin the coil in the housing until it drops down into place. Let me know if this helps Tomcat, thanks.

    • profile image

      Tomcat 

      5 years ago

      Hi Eddie, this is very helpful, but I need to rewind the underside coil that isn't shown in your pictures. Any advise would be helpful since I cannot find any tutorials or manuals online instructing how to do so.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Thanks Eugbug,

      This trimmer is pretty easy to disassemble, and the spring is pretty tame, not much recoil :) I appreciate the vote and the time you took to have a read :)

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 

      5 years ago from Ireland

      If only they made all trimmers this way! I practically had to take my bargain basement trimmer apart to get at the pulley and cord!

      Also when replacing the cord, there's no harm wearing safety glasses in case the spring jumps out.

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

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