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  1. #1

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    Question Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Hi all, first post for me.
    I tried doing a search and nothing came up. Also checked the FAQ with no luck. So I apologize if this is posted somewhere and I missed it.

    I have a newer Craftsman walk behind (Self-Propelled and Key start) mower that just doesn't want to start up. Its been a while since we used it. But it started up just fine this afternoon (I did note the first start up had some white smoke for a few seconds then cleared up), ran for about 5 min, quit.. started it back up, ran for another few min then quit for the last time.

    Darn thing just wont start now.

    From what little research I've gathered from other websites is that the Carburetor might be clogged. The suggestion was to take it in for service. I'm wondering if there anything that can be done without taking it in? Money is a bit tight and we really don't have it to spend on service at the moment.

    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

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  3. #2
    poncho62's Avatar
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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Take the carb off, take it apart and clean it out...its not that hard to do

    If you are not comfortable doing that, spray some carb cleaner in it the best you can......put fresh gas in it....that may clear it out.

  4. #3

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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Did you start with fresh fuel...
    I agree with poncho62, you may have gummed up carb... If it was not fresh fuel in the tank, dump out the tank , put in fresh fuel... you can start and run on spray carb cleaner or WD40... If it is not too plugged up the spray along with the fresh fuel may clean it up... if not you may have to take it apart to clean it up.. not hard just watch close as you take it apart... take a picture or two of the linkage before you remove anything...
    At this link: Small Engine Equipment Troubleshooting, Repairs and Safety
    scroll down till you spot your carb... it will step you through the carb clean up...

    Try the spray run with fresh fuel first... may save you an hour of clean up time... KennyV

  5. #4

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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Sorry for the late reply!

    yes I did use fresh fuel.

    update: Seems the mower will start fine now, but dies seconds after. Sort of starts up strong, then instantly cuts off.

    could that still be related to the same issue? (carb?)


    thanks for the replies! I really appreciate it!

  6. #5

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    twall's Avatar
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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Quote Originally Posted by No_Smoking View Post
    Sorry for the late reply!

    yes I did use fresh fuel.

    update: Seems the mower will start fine now, but dies seconds after. Sort of starts up strong, then instantly cuts off.

    could that still be related to the same issue? (carb?)


    thanks for the replies! I really appreciate it!
    I'd agree with everyone here. But, I'd go at it a bit different. You might want to try some STP (or whatever you fancy) in-the-tank carb cleaner. Do the math.....I think you'd use like a quarter-cup (not from the kitchen, but a glass measuring cup) in 5 gallons of fuel (or do further math for 1 gallon, don't want to make it TOO strong), it might clean it out. But, if it's too bad, you'll have to take it apart........sounds like the fuel IS seeping in enough to give you a good start.

  7. #6

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    Cub Cadet i1042

    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Sure sounds like lack of fuel. Taking the carb apart may be necessary but, Check the gas tank cap to make sure the air vent is clear.

    Depending on how old it is, the carb may have a mixture adjustment screw (or screws) on it. If you find one, turn it counterclockwise about 1/8 of a turn and see if that helps. If not, turn it back to where it was.

  8. #7

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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbir View Post
    Sure sounds like lack of fuel. Taking the carb apart may be necessary but, Check the gas tank cap to make sure the air vent is clear.

    Depending on how old it is, the carb may have a mixture adjustment screw (or screws) on it. If you find one, turn it counterclockwise about 1/8 of a turn and see if that helps. If not, turn it back to where it was.
    I notice a small hole on the gas cap, which looks clear. I figured I would try and start it with the cap off.. surely it would get enough air that way? did the same thing.. fired up, then died.

    after a few starts now its seems to "try" and stay running.. like as it "spins down" just before it dies completely , it will sputter a few times.. THEN die.

    another odd thing.. maybe another symptom? I have to keep filling the tank. I do not notice any leaks however, nor smell gas when I approach the mower for the first time that day .
    I do randomly try and start it every other day in hopes that the fresh fuel will magically clear away the gunk
    Not sure if simply starting it repeatedly would cause it to use up so much gas?


    Im looking through the manual atm to see where the mixture adjustment screw is you mentioned.

    BTW the mower I have is 700 Series Briggs and Stratton Model # 917.374362

    update: after checking the manual, it mentions the carb isn't adjustable and makes no other note of a mixture adjustment screw. With the mention of not enough air or vents being clear, I did check the air filter. When I pulled it out, it was soaked in fuel. does that confirm or change any thing for you guys?
    Last edited by No_Smoking; 04-19-2011 at 04:45 PM. Reason: update

  9. #8

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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Now the air cleaner soaked in fuel sounds like too much fuel. When it runs, is there a lot of black smoke from the exhaust? I've seen some small engines with automatic chokes on them. Would be just inboard of the filter. I don't know if your machine has this but, if it doesn't open after starting, it'll flood the engine (black smoke).

  10. #9

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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbir View Post
    Now the air cleaner soaked in fuel sounds like too much fuel. When it runs, is there a lot of black smoke from the exhaust? I've seen some small engines with automatic chokes on them. Would be just inboard of the filter. I don't know if your machine has this but, if it doesn't open after starting, it'll flood the engine (black smoke).
    no black smoke that I notice , but for the first half second just as it starts there might be a small puff of white smoke.

    It does seem that's why i have to refill the gas tank when I come back the next day to try starting it though.. I just went outside to put the air filter back on (was letting it dry out) I noticed the fuel is slowly leaking out through the hole where I assume the engine pulls air from

  11. #10
    rer's Avatar
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    Re: Mower having trouble starting after winter

    Sounds like a fouled plug
    Most good mowers come from the pile of trash by the curb.

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