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I have seen an expert commercial pilot pumping the throttle during start for a Cessna 152 and ever since I thought that was ok to do so, but recently studying for ATPL I read about that these technique can produce a risk of engine fire during start. What are the consequences of such a start on short or long term on the engine?

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  • $\begingroup$ I have read many times about the correct technique on the POH of the airplane but since I seen a much expert pilot I thought that could be an alternative way during cold operation. $\endgroup$ – Andrea Ghilardi Nov 20 '17 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ I’ve been told that it is more dangerous to do in a Piper than a Cessna due to (I think) the position of the accelerator pump. I hope someone can give a good informed answer. $\endgroup$ – Ben Nov 20 '17 at 7:45
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Pumping the carb during a cold start, in an updraft engine such as the 152 has, is the #1 cause of engine fires, and can be eliminated by the proper and factory recommended starting procedure.

The correct procedure is to prime, then open the throtte about 1/4" and then crank the engine. All planes vary, especially if the primers are varnished up to one degree or another, but here is some guidance for a 152 and 172:

10C - 1 full pump of primer

0C - 2 pumps of primer

-10C - 3 pumps of primer

-20C - 4 pumps of primer, however the engine should be preheated prior to starting at this and colder temperatures.

Using the primer, puts a charge in either one or all cylinders, which is adequate to compensate for carb fuel/air mix being condensed on the cylinder walls at the ambient temperature.

Using the throttle pump to enrichen the mixture sprays a little squirt of fuel into the carburetor. If the engine is not running, much of that fuel drips downward out of the "bottom" or inlet side of the carburetor. Too much (easy to do) will drip out, and load the inlet box, and can also drip to the ground. If the engine has even a small backfire, it may ignite the additional fuel there, which will rapidly heat up the carb which has an ample supply of more fuel.

If you can't start with the primer, it is likely that the primers are varnished up and need to be cleaned by a mechanic. They come out, similar to spark plugs.

Also in the 152, you may have a primer on #1 or on all four cylinders. It largly depends on where the plane was initially delivered. If a colder climate, the plane would likely have come with four primers.

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  • $\begingroup$ I noticed the fuel dripping out of the carb when I moved the throttle back and forth to lubricate the throttle cable. There was a surprising amount of fuel on the floor for just a few pulls on the throttle. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Nov 20 '17 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, and you were lubricating, rather than pumping to start an engine. There was one instructor who refused to use primer and insisted that he pump the throttle. Over almost two decades, he toasted two planes. A couple of pumps (4) can give you 1.5 to 2 oz of gasoline...in the wrong spot. The manufacturer installed a primer for a reason. $\endgroup$ – mongo Nov 20 '17 at 23:57

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