I heard a pop and saw some smoke, the engine stopped, and now it won't start again. Despite my legendary frugality, I went out and bought an electric so I can keep working on the deck instead of spending the rest of the summer fighting with this engine.
Does anyone have any advice on how to troubleshoot a single-cylinder engine that, I suspect, keeps burning out spark plugs?
Is the piston moving?
I haven't disassembled it enough to check that yet ... but when I was trying to get it started again, I did notice that it turned unusually freely. I assumed that was just because it was already warmed up, but a broken rod might result in the same effect, right? When I have time I'll look.
Ok, I removed the plug, probed the plug socket with a screwdriver, and gently pulled on the starter cord. The screwdriver moved back and forth with the cylinder. That would seem to indicate that the cylinder is not seized and the rod is not broken.
Here's a close up photo of the plug: