Help! - Snow Blower Won't Start!


I've got a 15 year old Craftsman 5 HP snow blower that until recently was in great shape. Last season I didn't drain the gas for the summer, I just added gas stabilizer. Now that Denver is in the midst of a big snow storm, I can't start the engine. Spark plug was replaced last year. Any suggestions? An online reference with engine diagrams might be helpful for me because I am handy, but unfamiliar with these engines. I think if I can at least get it running somehow, if there are any gas issues they will clear themselves up.
Thanks!
Boatman
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The quick and dirty method to diagnose a small engine no start is to give it some fuel down the air intake of the carb. If it then starts but dies after the added fuel burns up, it is a carburetor problem. I like to use an unlit propane torch stuck in the air intake for this test, less messy. Due care should always be used with all combustibles (disclaimer). If it does run with added fuel, assuming it is a float type carb, the likely culprit is a clogged pin hole in the bottom of the carb inside the float bowl that feeds the main jet. If you just clean it out (I like torch tip cleaners, but a wire from a bag twist tie will do) all should be good. Diaphragm carbs have screens on the pick-up tubes that get clogged.
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Boatman wrote:

If you can obtain some Techron or STP fuel cleaner, try that in the gas tank. See if your primer is pulling gas into the piston chamber. By attempting to start the engine a few times, you will see if the gas is getting to the spark plug (the tip will be wet). If not, then you either have a rusted shutoff valve, or you might have to dismantle a portion of the carb, checking your float bowl and some needles. If you have a Briggs and Stratton engine, search online for a carb repair kit manual with diagrams. I can dig your situation. One winter I also had to do these repairs and it was not easy. Plus, you may be stuck inside your home, which means you will need to get a friend to drive you to a snow blower place. Good luck.
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Boatman wrote:

Also, float bowl may be full of pretty stale (un-volatile) fuel. Many small one-lunger engines have a "push-to-pee" valve on bottom of float bowl to release fuel within. Make sure you have some sort of means of collecting it below, of course. Another means of draining: unscrew fitting below bowl that holds main-mixture screw; gently smack bowl from side to release; drain. Again, caution about collecting fuel.
Stale fuel can make starting _much_ harder than with fresh.
J
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Take the air filter off. Choke could be stuck. Drain out the old gas then add new gas. Would this have an electric start? I am thinking not ...for being 15 years old. Does it even try to kick in....then die?
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After reading all the replies so far and some experimenting, this is what I've found:
There is a good spark. The tip of the plug was bone dry, even after lots of "priming" with the little rubber push thing. I got it to start once (then quickly die out) by transferring some gas with a straw into the neck area of the throat. It's a float bowl type of carb (engine make unknown).
From what everyone has said, I'd like to take the float bowl off to clean it and the "pin that feeds the main jet." The bowl has a ""push-to-pee" valve on bottom " and a screw and spring combo. I really don't know much about what I'm saying, here (obviously) as I'm mostly quoting you guys, so a little more guidance in removing the bowl would be great!
In the meantime, I will try to drain the bowl with the valve and put in some fresh gas (but because the plug tip was so dry, I think something is clogged).
Thanks, guys! Hope to hear some more.
Boatman (snowed in in Denver - HUGE drifts)
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Hmmmmm.............is there a gas filter? I would check this first before taking apart the carb. Check to see if fuel is even getting to the carb, loosen the fitting a bit and see if any fuel is present.
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The float bowl is full of gas. Does that mean carb is getting fuel? I'm pretty sure there isn't a fuel filter.

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Boatman wrote:

See if theres flow......with the fitting loose and gas on...you should get flow. If no flow.then check from gas tank to carb....if there is flow.......check the float....could be stuck. I would maybe do the straw thing and start it quite a few times.......might loosen whatever it is up.
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did you drain the reservour completely? The gas within could be watery or just bad....try draining the reservour, then try it.
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Go here and scroll down to " Determining why it won't start"
This should give you alot of help.
http://zekfrivolous.com/faq/sam/lmfaq.htm#lmlmwns
Its troubleshooting of a craftsman lawnmower engine......but should help you out. lawnmower/snowthrower.......basically the same engine....no? :-)
Hope it helps.
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As I was draining the float bowl with the "push-to-pee" valve on the bottom, gas kept coming and coming 'till I had almost a pint before I realized that it was coming from the (nearly) full gas tank. So gas is getting to the carb just fine! I drained the tank, then the bowl (again) and figured out how to take the bowl off. Now that I've got it off, I'm trying to figure out what pin or orifice needs to be cleaned so that I can spray it with some Carb Gum-out I just happen to have. Then I'll reassemble, add fresh gas and try again.
Anyone ever cleaned a carb?

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At the site above...scroll down to " Intermediate Level Maintenance and Repair " which has directions in cleaning your carb, etc etc.
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heres the table of contents page.........
http://zekfrivolous.com/faq/sam/lmfaq.htm
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Ok now that you're in, there should be an aluminum tube that the retaining bolt for the bowl screws into to hold it on. about 1/4 -3/8" up from the bottom there is a hole probably less than 1/8" (it may be invisible if the tube is scaled over. Find it!! Now poke it out with a fine wire as all the gas the engine burns passes through that hole getting from the bowl to the jet. Carb 101, go blow some snow.
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It works!
Cleaned out the float bowl (which really wasn't that dirty) and that pesky high speed adjustment screw with the tiny little hole in it especially well. Got the driveway done, wife did the front walk and we're good to go... except the streets are only passable by high 4-wheel drive trucks at this point. Can't wait for the "solar snow plow tomorrow!
Thanks to everybody, especially avid_hiker for the urls!
Boatman
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