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A craftsman mower did not start at all. I cleaned out the carburetor, cleaned the passages on the bowl bolt. The air filter is clean, the fuel drips in a 1/8" stream without the bowl attached. After all of this, A few pulls will get the engine to start, and it has run as long as ten seconds or so before dying with a puff of blue-ish smoke. The spark plug has a .03" gap but looks a little oily. I cleaned it up with little change in behavior.

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    This is a usual sign the carburetor is having issues. As I've mentioned to others, lots of times it's just easier to replace the carb than it is to try and clean or rebuild it. While it costs more, the time wasted trying to get it to work right makes up for it. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 7 '15 at 21:04
  • That sounds like a good idea. The one I'm dealing with now does not have a primer. Perhaps I could upgrade. – 2NinerRomeo Sep 8 '15 at 2:55
  • Stick with the same carb. Typically, you have a choke OR a primer. Have you tried moving the throttle and choke by hand to see if you can keep it running for longer? – rpmerf Sep 8 '15 at 13:21
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I had a similar issue with my Craftsman mower. Turned out the needle valve was sticking. Once it started, I could tap the side of the carburetor with a small hammer and it would then keep running. Replaced the needle valve and it's been running fine all summer.

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Unless you're absolutely sure that your fuel tank contains 100% fresh new gasoline, drain the fuel tank completely and fill it with 100% fresh new gasoline. If that fails to do the job, check the needle valve - you may be able to clean it if it's sticky, you may not.

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