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I've got an older John Deere mower with a kawasaki fc420v engine. Once started, the engine purrs like a kitten at any rpm. I couldn't ask for a smoother running motor. The problem is getting the thing started. It backfires out of the intake and exhaust. It takes 30-45 seconds to get the thing started. I've checked the valve clearances and reset them to spec at .006. The compression release is measuring .027" right after the intake valve closes as specs say it should. The coil is putting out good fire at the plug. I reset the air gap between the coil and flywheel to .012". The valve are sealing off properly. The carburetor has been off and cleaned. I also checked the flywheel key and its in perfect condition. Any ideas on where to go from here?
 

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You may want to check the choke linkage and make sure the choke is closing all the way for cold starts.
 

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I was going to try that today when i get home because I had read that the choke not closing was a common problem with those carburetors. I hope thats it, but it wont start easy when its warm either.
 

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I have an 1990 ish JD 240 with FC420V engine that had been hard to start - The problem is now resolved. Would not start it after it set for more than a few hours without pouring a little gas in the carb, acting like it was not getting fuel. Once it started the first time, it could restart if not sitting more than an hour or so.
I replaced carb, but didn't help. Spark was weak but consistent. Noticed that the choke was not quite fully closing so adjusted the linkage to fully close. It then started but took a lot of cranking - it was still acting like not getting enough fuel. I replace the ignition ignitor timer with orig JD part ($80+). After market part can be less than $20, but didn't want to risk it. The new ignitor did the trick - it now pops off after the 1st or 2nd turn of the crank! It starts like a new engine.
Btw - the old timer ohm'd out at about 1.4 kohms. The new one considerably different but I don't recall what the ohms measured at the moment.
Conclusion is it was hard starting mainly b/c of the old timer resulting in the spark being weak and probably the timing was off as well. This combined with a lean mixture due to the choke not fully closing meant pouring a little gas down the carb to start after setting more than a few hours.
Hope this helps everyone.
 
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