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I recently had trouble with the throttle on a two-stroke engine. It ran fine once I fixed that, but I didn't have time to till right then, so I turned the thing off.

It rained the other day, so I put a tarp over the tiller. It may have gotten a bit damp.

Then, after the rain, I tried to start it again. No luck. The engine turns over with the pull-cord and the spark plug sparks. It makes a slightly different sound when I close the choke. And I can definitely smell gas when I try it with the choke open, so it's getting fuel. The air filter is a little dirty but no worse than it was the other day when I started it successfully on the first or second pull.

Any ideas? It's definitely got the right kind of gas/oil mixture, though I do have to use 10% ethanol (only option).

  • Tried draining the gas and putting in fresh gas? Could be water in the gas. Is the air filter wet? – itsmatt May 29 '13 at 18:48
  • It's brand new gas -- I'd just fixed the engine, so it was empty before I added fuel. The air filter may be damp. Will check when I get home. But shouldn't that be impossible? It's soaked in oil, isn't it? – Juno Woods May 29 '13 at 18:57
  • You could think about migrating this to mechanics.stackexchange.com, where all engine questions are on topic. – Rory Alsop May 30 '13 at 13:18
  • Well, I originally posted a similar question on diy.stackexchange.com, and they migrated it here -- so I figured this was the right place. But thanks for pointing me to mechanics. – Juno Woods May 30 '13 at 19:03
  • @mohawkjohn there is also a small engine prosposal on Area 51 that you should consider supporting: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/55551/… – wax eagle May 31 '13 at 15:11
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It sounds like your carburetor might be gummed up. Try the following, it worked for me on my Murray riding mower that had a similar problem cranking up (engine turned over, had a new spark plug, but wouldn't catch).

  • Buy a can of Carburetor cleaner
  • Remove the air filter from the engine, being careful to vacuum or sweep away any bits of grass/dirt that might be around the assembly.
  • Spray a small amount of carb cleaner down the air intake
  • Start the engine
  • If it runs spray short bursts of carb cleaner into the air intake for a few moments.

Hopefully this gets you up and running, if not and you can isolate the issue to the carb, there are good instructions out there for removing, disassembling and cleaning carburetors, try to find one specific to your model engine.

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