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why does my lawn mower engine start fine but quickly stutter and die, even with plenty of gas in the tank?

I own a Sears Craftsman 3.5 hp 20" rotary mower, Model #917.380310.
Mower starts up and runs fine for awhile, but then starts to sputter and will die. If I hit the choke balloon a few times it'll start right up again, run for a few minutes -- and die.
Hoping it was something easy, I pulled the spark plug, cleaned and gapped it and replaced it, but the problem persists.
I'm thinking maybe a clogged fuel line?
Mower's got plenty of gas.

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Craftsman , Lawn Mowers
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3 Answers from these members:
Manage My Life
Thanks very much. I suspect you're right -- carburetor needs cleaning. At this point -- the machine has given over 30 years of basically perfect service -- I think I will retire the machine for a new one, given the $70-80 it will likely cost to rebuild the carburetor. I can upgrade the horsepower and the blade-length for about $150.
by Manage My Life
June 2nd, 2010
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Joey S
Based on your symptom and details the likely cause of your engine to sputter and die is a dirty carburetor. By pushing on the primer bulb you are priming the carburetor with fuel and it starts and runs. I recommend calling a service technician to service and repair your mower. The carburetor will likely need to be removed, cleaned and rebuilt.

If you do not feel confident repairing this problem yourself, then you can have it repaired by a Sears technician. Here is a link that will provide the nearest drop-off locations:

Sears Home Services

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by Joey S Earned 1,944 community points in Craftsman
June 2nd, 2010
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Manage My Life
david my mower does the same i have a917377563
by Manage My Life
June 1st, 2010
Answered in 21 hours
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