By Paul Stevens
Be safe this fall season add an emergency kill switch to your outdoor power equipment
If you are like me with grown kids, you probably end up working out alone in the woods, garden, or other remote areas always using some type of small gas engine operated power equipment. It’s not the smartest or ideal situation not having someone close by, but that is just sometimes reality.
Regardless if you have the newest and greatest equipment, old, or even home built power equipment a kill switch next to the operating controls or where you hold onto the handles could save fingers, arms, and your life. Despite all the safety requirements most of the outdoor power equipment except for mowers require you to reach down or walk around to the front of the machine in order to shut it off. This could be rather difficult if your glove or hand has been drug into the machine while using a log splitter, chipper, buzz saw or other similar machine.
Only the newer push lawn mowers have a kill switch if you let go of the handle, riding mowers have one built into the seat and they are both a pain, they shut off the mower every time you stop and let go of the handle or change position in the mower seat.
When I built my own log splitter I made sure I had a kill switch right next to the hydraulic lever, even with my rear tine garden tiller I have a kill switch in case the machine catches some solid material and takes off on me. Yes it has the typical factory control to start, ideal and stop the machine, but it is still located down too far from the handles to reach down and shut off the machine in an emergency.
These small gas engines shut off by simply grounding out the ignition system, understanding this makes adding a kill switch a snap. Any single contact switch will work, toggle or push button. I prefer to use the large dash mount automobile horn button used for trucks when the steering wheel horn stops working. A recycled switch from electronic equipment or other surplus source will work just as well. If your equipment would become unsafe if you should fall or be pulled away from you such as a garden tiller, consider a switch that can be tethered with a breakaway strap to your wrist or waist. Toggle switches with large plastic handles can be drilled to accept the tethered strap, or switches made for this purpose can be purchased or recycled from a junked Jet Ski or snow mobile.
Simple to install, one side of the switch is grounded to the equipment frame; the other side receives a single wire running down to the factory shut off control. This control will have one single wire running out of the engine to a slide control close to the carburetor. This slide control usually incorporates the choke, and idle selections. As the handle slides it operates the choke, then the idle. When it is slid to the end it grounds out the ignition system and shuts off the engine. The factory wire is usually bolted to the control, if this is the case simply unscrew the nut and wrap the wire to the kill switch and re-tighten, if not tap splice into the wire by using an automotive snap on wire splice.
Oh and if your engine doesn’t start, check the position of the kill switch. I actually use mine to stop the engine anyway but forget to turn it back when I go you use the machine again.