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Old 06-24-2017, 12:52 AM   #1
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Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


I have an older craftsman mower that sputters a lot. It does it particularly bad when it's cold, much less so when it warms up.
I've tried everything, fuel system cleaner, cleaning the carb, replacing the spark plug, using the freshest of fuel, changing the oil. Nothing seems to make any difference at all. It just sputters away. I'm not sure what else to try. Everything seems good, could it be something like a bad piston seal? It's a 5.5 HP 21" mower. I'm not sure how old it is but I'd guess it's probably from the 90s.

I've watched many videos about cleaning these carbs, and I've taken mine apart many times and everything looks good. Exceptionally good in fact. I've had so much sea foam run through this mower at this point, it honestly looks brand new on the inside of this carb. But it still sputters like crazy.

There is one way I can temporarily fix it. If I tip the mower way back, and wait for it to start to die, then put it back down, it will puff out a cloud of smoke, then rev up to a more normal RPM and not really sputter at all for a short while, then it slowly goes back to its old sputter low rpm.

It sounds like a bad need, bad float, float with fuel in it, dirty screw jet, etc etc etc. But I've cleaned all those so many times. And still it runs like ****. I'm kind of at a loss. I've invested so much time into trying to fix this thing, I really want to get it running well.

Here is a video of it sputtering:

Here is a video of me stopping the sputter for half a minute or so:

I've removed and cleaned out the fuel tank. Replaced the spark plug and air filter. I've sprayed carb cleaner into the air intake while it's running for like an hour. I've run nothing but sea foam mix fuel in it for the past two seasons. This year I even did one tank of about 50-50 sea foam gas mix. Which is WAY too much and it shouldn't even have been able to start. It was a tough start but eventually it did, and it ran all the way through. No change in the sputter though.

I readily admit I basically know nothing about carbs, other than the theory of what they do. If I sound like I know what I'm taking about here, it's only because I've been trying to fix this specific one for years now.

I'd appreciate any advice (besides "give up").
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Old 06-24-2017, 07:34 AM   #2
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Re: Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


When you say you cleaned the carb, did you strip is down as you would during rebuild or just sprayed all the accessible areas with cleaner? If it is the latter you are not getting to a lot or pertinent areas.

If you did a rebuild, did you use a rebuild kit? If you did and the problem persists then perhaps it is time to replace the carburetor
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Old 06-24-2017, 10:10 AM   #3
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Re: Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


Replace the carb, replace all the fuel lines, run a compression check, .

I've seen one with a marble in the tank, that would roll over the orifice and cause sputtering, and roll off the orifice just long enough to let fuel flow again, then back over it.

How a marble got in the tank is any body's guess.

But a new carb might be your best chance of salvaging this.


ED


P.S. if the gasket has a flaw, that could cause enough air leak to cause a falter.

Last edited by de-nagorg; 06-24-2017 at 10:12 AM. Reason: Add ps
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Old 06-24-2017, 10:24 AM   #4
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Re: Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


In any of the videos did they show how to check the float to determine if it would actually float? On those floats that are adjustable, did they show the procedure to set it by inverting the carburetor?
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Old 07-10-2017, 11:15 AM   #5
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Re: Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


Looks like your model has no throttle lever ?
Nudge the governor linkage/throttle plate with your finger. Does it rev up ?
Try a new governor spring.
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Old 07-10-2017, 12:53 PM   #6
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Re: Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


About a month ago my old Craftsmen lawnmower (Honda engine) died on me. For the last year or so it would not start unless I gave it a shot of starter fluid, and it didn't seem to have full power and the idle was always going up and down. Turns out it was the ignition coil, which eventually died completely causing a no spark / no start. When I changed the ignition coil I also noticed that the flywheel was covered in a film of oil/debris. After cleaning it and installing the new coil it runs like new. Easy job, and only cost about $30 on Amazon for a new coil.
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Old 07-10-2017, 09:19 PM   #7
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Re: Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


I was originally going to suggest that it might be a problem/blockage in the fuel tank or line but you say you checked that.

The puff of blue smoke looks like oil. Perhaps it is sucking oil after it heats up - suggesting perhaps a bad ring. Maybe try a compression test, both cold and hot. I don't know what an acceptable range would be but it's likely available online.
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Old 09-09-2017, 04:20 AM   #8
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Re: Sputtery Old Craftsman Mower


For some reason, I don't always get notifications from this forum. I ended up selling this mower as-is, and got something like $85 for it. It does run well once it warms up, and while it's not self propelled, it had the great advantage of being very light. Perfect for someone with a tiny city lawn. To be honest, at this point, I don't even remember how much I pulled it's carb apart. I had another mower that I replaced the carb on, and I have lots of other power tools having issues, it's kind of a blur at this point.

But it's all moot now because this mower is ggggggone. Thanks!
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