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It sounds to me like you have two problems.
1. The overheating problem
2. The starting problem..
The may also be interrelated.
Let's take this one step at a time.
What could cause the overheating problem?
Overheating can be attributed to two things something getting to hot or something not getting cooled properly.
Lets take the situations that would cause something to get too hot first.
Engines can create extra heat by having the engine run too lean....(Not getting enough fuel) Fuel is not only used to create the power in an engine but it is also used as a coolant in the combustion chamber. If it runs too lean, then the explosions will create more heat and then there is also not enough fuel to help cool the engine.
What would cause the engine to run too lean?
As engines sit or get older, fuel that is left in the carburetor can turn to gum and varnish and cause this and other problems.
Also, any gasoline that was left in a gas can for a period of more than 30 days must be discarded because it also has begun to turn to varnish.
More than 70% of all of our repairs in our lawn mower business are due to this same issue. You most likely have dirt, gum, varnish...etc in your carburetor plugging up the small passageways and jets in the carb. It Must be removed from the engine, cleaned very well, blown out with compressed air and reassembled using a NEW carburetor rebuild kit. ALWAYS clean the fuel tank and replace the fuel line when doing this repair or you may have to do it all over again. The inside of the fuel line disintegrates over time and these small pieces of rubber will plug up the carb too. Dirt and water from a dirty fuel tank will also plug up the carb. Find the Model, type and serial or code numbers off of the engine and take them to your local dealer to get the carb kit.
Ok now lets see what could cause the engine to have insufficient cooling.
When small engines run, they build up heat as a natural byproduct of combustion.
Just as a wood burning stove gives off heat so does a combustion engine. Different fuels will produce different amounts of heat. Coal for instance burns much hotter than wood.....a hardwood such as oak or hickory burns much hotter than softwoods such as soft maple of cottonwood. The same can be said for gasoline. 87 octane gives off much more heat than 89 octane of premium. That is because 87 octane explodes and all of the heat is transferred to the piston in one very fast burst. It cannot be transferred through the piston and cylinder to the air fins where the air from the cooling fan takes it away fast enough to keep the engine running as cool as we would like. On the other hand, mid-grad 89 octane and premium fuels do not explode...they burn in a much slower manner and the added time aids the engine in cooling., so the engine runs much cooler. This is due to the antiknock compounds that have been added to the fuel. The anti-knock compounds job is to slow the burning process and to eliminate the explosions that result in the knock (or pre-ignition) that occurs with regular gas. The problems we are having with the gas these days is that they keep making it cheaper and cheaper by not adding as many additives as they one did. These additives are very expensive.
So as a conclusion, we do not recommend using 87 octane in ANY SMALL ENGINE. We would prefer that only good Brand (NOT CHEAP DISCOUNT STATION) gasoline is used in all 4-cycle engines and Premium MUST be used in ALL 2-cycle engines.
Another situation that causes the engine not to cool well is that grass builds up under the engine cover....we call this the birds nest affect.....When grass is built up under the shroud or cover as we call it, it blocks the flow of air around the cylinder and block of the engine. This prevent the engine from cooling because it cannot take away the heat that was created during combustion. In many cases this grass build-up gets so hot that it can even create a fire under the cover.
What can be causing the engine to be hard to start or in your case now, impossible to start.
When the electronic ignitions get hot, they have a tendency to short out on the inside. Sometimes they will run ok for a while 10 min, 20 min, an hour etc before they get hot enough to break down under the heat. Then they will short out and not give any spark to the engine and it won't run. IT will die. Sometimes if you let the engine cool of for an hour or two, the ignition will begin firing again...and the cycle starts all over again. At some point, the ignition gets hot enough that the short inside doesn't go away when it cools off. And it goes permanently dead. Sometimes the ignition goes dead with no other warning. You simply have to replace the electronic ignition coil for the unit to run again.
There are other causes that will keep an engine from starting too, such as the valves may need to be adjusted or replaced...sometimes because of overheating and sometimes just because of normal wear and tear. If the valves are out of adjustment the engine will not run or at least will not run correctly. Also.. if the engine has been overheating, the valves could be burnt and then they will not seat correctly.
I hope that these suggestion will help you in you're quest to find the problem with your engine. If I can be any more help to you , please just ask for me.
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