3.5 Briggs and Stratton Engine on my Murray 20" mower

I ran out of gas on my mower the other day. I put what was left in the gas tank which allowed it to run another 3-5 minutes or so. It started sputtering when it was running out of gas but I kept the mower going by bouncing the mower up and down ... went for another minute or so. I went to get gas and accidently poured some gas down the mesh area (intake?) as I took the nozzle out of the tank. I went to start it up but it was sputtering like it was running out of gas.. Mower never died. So my question is, did I run the engine lean when I kept it running by bouncing the mower around or did the gas I accidently poured down the mesh/intake have anything to do with it? When I say intake it's the grill/mesh part at the top where the pull cord runs in. Don't know much about these lawn mower engines... When the engine is running, it sputters but won't die although sometimes it feels like it and I see a puff of black smoke every few secs. It no longer runs well. And I used up a tank in two mowing days when it used to last about 5 or 6 mowing days.
Help. Gary
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gas
Well, in addition to describing the texture, the area of where this not normally gassed area is would have helped. Is it the CENTER of the engine? If so, its the recoil / starter cord area. No harm done. Has nothing to do with how the engine run if you spilled gasoline there.
My guess for the reason for the engine running difficulties is there was muck/dirt on the bottom of the tank. Running it dry sucked it into the tiny orifices. Pulling the carb and flushing it with gasonline may work the nasty stuff out. Wouldn't hurt to flush the gas tank while you're at it. Otherwise, a rebuild of the carb is in order.
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if you have the type engine with the fuel tank mounted on the carb,then replace the rubber gasket between the tank and carb. it pumps fuel . a new spark plug and snug up head bolts is in order too. lucas
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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