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17HP Kaw (the wonderful unitized unit). It has always (but intermittently) leaked a little oil onto the exhaust, creating a bit of a cloud at times; just kept track of the oil level. I did change to full synth oil this year.

The other day my wife was mowing and it seemed to be running fine. she shut it off because of some smoke (presumed a belt). Since then it will not start. Engine turns over with seemingly no compression. after 20 seconds or so it will let go with a loud backfire, but that is all the joy that is to be had.

The engine is turning (at least the screen on the top of the engine is), but other than that I have not gotten into it.

I don't really even know where to begin on this. Was hoping there is a "common" problem or suspect place to begin. Any direction would be greatly appreciated.

thanks,
Matt
 

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Welcome! Seems to be a weird failure? Wonder if you had head gasket fail and lost compression. Sounds like rod is not broken, as it cranks sounds like it builds some compression to pop. Wonder if the flywheel key broke and your out of time?
 
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