Albert Piccioni's StartIt System

An Add-On Starter for the Continental A65

August 2020

I get asked a lot of questions.  One of the most common is, "Is there a way to add a starter to an A65 Continental?"  The A-65, with the exception of the very rare A65--6 and -9 variants (which have been hunted to extinction, at this point), all have to be hand-propped to start.

The A65 is the perfect engine for most of the small, traditional homebuilts.  Continental made thousands of them over a ~20 year period.  They went into the most common airplanes of the post-WWII period...the Cubs, the Champs, the Taylorcrafts, the Luscombes.

Most of these airplane were trainers, hence students back then had to learn to hand-prop.  And if you went to your local FBO, the line boy would be quite happy to spin your prop for you after you bought your eight gallons of 80 octane.

Things are wildly different, now.  People have trained on starter-equipped airplanes ever since the 60s.  NO ONE really wants to hand-prop these days.

Yet all those A65 engines are out there.  Perfect powerplants for Fly Babies, Baby Aces, Pietenpols, Pober Pixies, Boredom Fighters, etc... a TON of great small airplanes that use the A65.  But owners have to hand prop.  Tail Hooks help, but when all is said and done, someone has to stand in front of that airplane and twirl the prop.

I flew Fly Baby N500F for seven years.  It didn't have a starter, I did my own propping almost every time.  I gloried in was fun, and it really attracted attention.  The tail hook, as far as I was concerned, made it quite safe.

But....but... I've been flying "Moonraker" now, for about twenty-five years.  'Raker has a starter.  I've gotten used to it, and, being twenty-five years older, my body isn't quite as supple as it was back then.  I would not be real happy if I had to transition back to a hand-propped airplane.

A lot of folks won't even consider it, which excludes them from a ton of great little homebuilt aircraft, which can be bought for $10,000 or less.

Enter Albert Piccioni

So when I got an email from Mr. Albert Piccioni of Summerland, British Columbia, I was intrigued.  Mr. Piccioni had developed an add-on starter system for A65 engines, and was offering it for sale.

You can see the system mounted atop this engine.  A small electric motor bolts to the front of engine's mounting flange, a ring gear is added to the propeller flange, and a shaft with two universal joints and a Bendix gear connects the two.  It doesn't need a generator... Mr. Piccioni reports getting over 20 starts from a small battery previously installed on a mobility scooter (it's visible below the engine).  Install the battery where convenient, and slap a charger on it occasionally.

He reports that the system, without battery, weighs 14 pounds, which is about what a conventional starter weighs.


You can contact Mr. Piccioni at

He's offering the kit in two variations, as a bolt-on kit or as a material kit.  Both kits come with all the items shown in the figure below.  However, the material kit is rather raw; it will require machining, lathe work, drilling, and some welding to complete.  All this is complete with the bolt-on kit.   The photo below illustrates the differences.  On the bolt-on kit, the pinion bearing assembly is completed, including support structure, the motor has been modified, and the drive shaft is complete.

Price of Bolt-on kit is $1435.00 Canadian, about $1100 US at this writing.  The bare bones kit is $925.00 Canadian, works out to about $700 US.  For either kit, you'll need to supply your own battery, switch, and wiring.  Small motorcycle-type batteries would be adequate.  The starter motor is included with both kits... for the Bolt-On kit, the minor modifications needed to it are already performed.

A Few Notes

Ron Wanttaja