do you know what model and type and code number of your engine is?
then I can give you more or better information.
I will guess that this is an older engine for the time being.
If this is the case, then the problem is likely that the starter clutch is having the insides sticking. these are small ball bearings incased inside a metal piece that is screwed onto the crankshaft of the engine. This has a square post that sticks up and goes inside the recoil starter.
These ball bearings MUST be loose in order to fall where they belong to engage the starter ratchet. If they have any dirt or grease or oil on them or any rust, they will stick and not fall hwere they belong.
If it is a newer unit, then there is a starter cup that is bolted to the crankshaft and there are plastic starter dogs in the starter pully that spring out and contact this starter cutp. These plastic starter dogs will sometimes break,, or the plastic pulley may have broken where the dogs go.
I will try to send you a complete repair manual in a minute
Here is a link to the Briggs & Stratton 4-cycle L-head repair manual
Here are instructions on how to get the link and manual
1. When you click on the link above., a new web page called 4shared will open.
2. When 4shared opens, scroll about half way down the page until you see a BLUE ‘Download Now' button on the left side.
3. Click on the BLUE ‘Download Now' button. Do not click on any GREEN buttons.
4. Clicking on the BLUE button will start a 20 second timer.
5. When the timer expires, a BLUE link that says ‘Download Now' will appear directly above the timer.
6. Click on the blue ‘Download Now' link above the timer to start the download.
Here is one type of starter pawl system video. This is a push mower, but the idea is nearly the same.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9tEcGiDx7g
I have the chipper manual and all it says it is a 8hp Briggs & Stratton Engine We bought the chipper in 1993 it is Model #190412
There is a model number and type number on the engine itself
Here is another video that will show you how to remove the starter clutch if you have this type.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZtNK7_tC3U
Here is a parts list that show you that you have the starter clutch in the Last video.
You will either have to replace this starter clutch or take it apart and clean it.
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What you need is part number 66 in the diagram