Small engine (Tecumseh) question

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I ahve a Sears lawn Vacuum non-self propelled - about 8 years old. It is a Tecumseh 4.5 HP 4 cycle engine. I use it frequently during the spring and summer for blowing debris off the lawn. You can remove the bag, and connect a chute for blowing. It has been working fine this fall.
This afternoon, I got it out of the arage, fueled it (fresh gas). pushed the primer 5-7 times (as always), set the throttle to choke, and pulled the rope. It started and I usually wait about 20 seconds and then set the throttle to the rabbit (operate position), then do leaves.
Today. before the wait period was up, the engine quit. I started it again and the same thing happened. The third time, after it started and before it quit, I pushed the primer bulb just as it began to stop, and it began too run, but then started to stop. Repeated pushing of the primer bulb would keep it going, but once I no longer pushed the primer bulb, it would stop. This happened in choke position or rabbit position, although it may not have had a chance to warm up.
I don't think it's a fuel problem, as I have used it 5 times over the past two weeks, and it always started and ran. My use sessions usually take a whole tank of gas - it just runs out of gas and I use that as a que to quit. I looked at the plug and it's dry and looks normal.
I'm not a small engine expert - Ionly do oil changes, and routine maintenance, so am asking for some direction as to what next to try.
Thanks for any and all replies.
John
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What I would do, in order.............
Loosen the gas cap to make sure air can get in. No cost Remove air cleaner and see how it runs. No cost Check compression. No cost Replace spark plug. $2-5 Check fuel supply lines for aging, collapse, cracks and etc. No cost. After all that, then I would clean the carb. No cost usually unless something is found to be defective.
Hank
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-snip-

At this point, I'd dump the gas - remove carb bowl and clean it [careful not to mess up float] - and refill with fresh gas. [then back to Hank's list]

I wouldn't waste time cleaning a carb, myself. You can buy a new one for $40-50, install it in 20 minutes and *know* you've got a good carb. There are lots of tiny gaskets, rings and passages in a carb that you can only get to with solvent [if at all]- and you don't know if you've fixed a carb or made it worse when you rebuild and replace.
Just my opinion- I'm probably batting about 800 lifetime on rebuilding carbs. but those 3-4 that I wasted hours and dollars on and *still* had to replace, make the quick change the way I go these days.
Jim
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wrote:

Some of those carbs have a float bowl that is only held on by a single nut or bolt. Taking it off and looking at what is inside, tossing it, filling it with gas, and putting it up and down up into the float to clean any residual crud is worth fifty bucks to me. Takes about two minutes. That's $1500 an hour.
Steve
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-snip-
We're not disagreeing here. That is exactly how much effort I'd put into cleaning a carb. If it has to come off the engine- it goes in the trash.
Jim
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wrote:

I like fixing things, and see some things as a challenge. A lot of things can be fixed with just a little time. I have more tools than I need, a parts washing device, compressed air, lots of stuff, so, it's fun to work with some things. But, yes, there is a point where I will chuck something if it starts to cost more than it's worth. But to me, a free attempt is worth the time invested.
I once bought a brand new lawnmower for $20 at a yard sale. All it took to get it running was to take off the float bowl, dump that, blow it out, blow around the floats, dunk the float area a couple of times in the float bowl full of good gas, empty the old gas, put in new, and it started on first crank. Probably would have been $40 at a shop.
I sold the mower for $75, net $55. If I had taken it to a shop, I might not have made a dime.
I love people who throw away good stuff, too, and have been known to make a quick dodge to scoop up something someone's tossed to the curb. Got two graphite poles, one with an Ambassadeur 5000 on it for free. Wife/girlfriend musta been making room for new roomie ................
Steve
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There's a guy in Las Vegas who scrounges bicycles. Will take ANYTHING. He then takes them to the prison where prisoners work on them, then he returns them to the community through various channels and organizations. I called him one day, and he came and got two, and he had to pile them on top of all the bikes he had in his long bed truck. I would imagine out of all that old stuff, there is a "home run" here and there. But a lot of it just gets back to kids instead of in the landfill. If you go to the indoor landfill dump, and there's a bike or portion of one sitting there, you CANNOT take it, nor anything else. A bit senseless, but ................ They do sort stuff later at the major collection points, and I hope they snag them out of the piles. They do pull metal and aluminum and glass out, plus God knows what else. Saw them one day, they had an area taped off with yellow tape. People in white HazMat suits with badges on the outside, and Metro insignia.
Steve
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Among being swamped by my own projects, honeydos, and just regular ranch maintenance, I am getting ready to start brewing. It is just incredible what one person has to keep up with these days re: work, making money, politics, ebay, facebook, the cost of oil, personal items like renewing driver's license, et al.
How did we all live back when life was actually more simple? Was the quality of life less? Were we depri(a)ved by not being able to Google a rule on Mexican Train Dominoes instantly by our iphones?
I think I could go back to that simpler time. Or even move to a third world country where the subject du jour is the price of fresh shrimp and papayas.
Steve
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Do as the Stor' Bore says...but don't take the bowl off. Just clean the plug/nut/metering jet (the small hole is clogged).
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On Mon, 7 Nov 2011 04:19:31 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

Pull the main jet/bolt and clean it. It likely has "greenies" in it.
Then get a can of "sea foam" and a can of fresh premium Shell (or other known hooch-free ) gasoline. Start the engine with the sea-foamed gas, pressing the primer as required to get it running for a minute or too, then let it run (if it will) - or let it sit for a few hours and try again. My experience is this USUALLY fixes them.
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John Carter wrote:

Where / when did Sears sell this?
Perhaps only in the US?
Do they still sell it?
I'd buy one if they sold it here in Canada.
Is this it?
http://s7.sears.com/is/image/Sears/07177055000-1
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Invest in a new spark plug--solved my snow blower problem--hard to start and didn't Idle too good MLD
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In my experience, people underestimate the impotance of a spark plug. Many think that if it fires, it is good. Not so. By not replacing the spark plug, you could be chasing the problem for hours, if not days.
While I agree it sounds like a fuel delivery problem, I would still check what I mentioned first. The reason I mention my way in order is because the OP stated he didn't know alot about engines and I noted the easiest and no cost (besides the spark plug) first.
Hank <~~~~ always starts diagnosis with new plug
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In typed:

A chunk of debris has loosened itself from some place and is plugghing anything from a port to hose connection. Disassemble, clean, blow out, reassemble, & see f that helps. It'll probably fix it.
HTH,
Twayne`
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John Carter wrote:

There is a bolt on the bottom of the carb bowl, and on that bolt is an orifice, which is clogged. Undo the bolt and clean out the orifice with a small copper wire, and reassemble.
Also change out the spark plug as a matter of due course.
Jon
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John Carter wrote:

I still want to learn more about this machine.
A lawn vacuum is not a common piece of home-owner equipment.
What was paid for it?
Does sears still sell it?
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Home guy...you need to get out more!
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Bob_Villa wrote:

You need to stop pretending you know the answer by evading the question with a cute reply!
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NO!!!!!!!!!! Starting fluid is for starting ONLY - and then only as a "last resort". It is VERY hard on engines - particularly when used by someone who does not know how bad it can be, and therefore how to use it safely.
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On Nov 7, 4:33pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I use WD-40 (lube and propane) to help start a small engine. Carb cleaner and ether...you need to be very careful! (as you say)
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