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I have a 1999 John Deere with the 17 HP Kawasaki Engine that is giving me a fit. My mowing takes less than an hour about every 4 days. After the mower has run about 30 minutes if I throttle it down or cut it off and restart the engine does not come up to full RPM. It runs smooth , but if you hit the PTO there is not enough power to turn the blades properly. After a minute or 2 it powers back up.
I just recently changed the plugs and fuel filter and there is no difference. Sunday it would not start at all for the second time in a month. I checked the fuel pump ,choke and wiring and all were working fine. Pulled the carburetor off, I thought maybe the float was sticking, but it springs up and down fine. I put it back together and back in got on the mower and it started and ran like a top. I mowed the yard without stopping. After that I turned it off and restarted it and the Rpms were low again for about a minute and then it just throttled up an sounded fine again. Any ideas ?
 

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If it's running smooth but just slow with no backup power I would check the governor linkage to the throttle. Maybe bump the linkage with your finger when it is acting up which should open the throttle and see if the engine responds. Could be the linkage is just sticky since it takes such a small amount of force to operate it.
 
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