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there is only one way i know of correcting this situation.
as weird as it sounds
you need to overheat the xbox 360 in order to get it working correctly again. i know this as i have one myself and been in the same situation.
you need to switch the console on then wrap a towel around it and leave it for approx 30mins.
this should return it to its correct working order.
What you are experiencing for both of your box's is very common.
The first box that displays the e74 error code has a hardware malfunction. What that most likely means is the motherboard is losing contact with some of its components due to bad solder joints.
Their are a few remedys for this.
The easiest and the most dangerous(for the xbox) is to put a few towels wrapped around the xbox to completly seal in the hot air as it is running. Let the xbox run for roughly 5 minutes with the towels on it and then shut it off and let it cool for roughly 10 minutes. After it is cool you can turn it back on and maybe just maybe it will work for you. The reason this works is because it heats the xbox up enough to reflow the solder and make the broken connections melt back together. This is really only a temporary fix and over time you will need to heat it up more frequently and for longer periods of time. I've done this to two xbox's and both of them towel tricked' for years before the completly died.
The second way to fix your xbox is to just send it to Microshaft and let them handle it. If its under warranty this is your best bet. The new xbox's have a different motherboard that almost eliminates the problems with the former xboxs.
The final way is the do-it-yourself way that will fix it permenantly. I won't go into a step by step list of how to do it because all you have to do is search youtube.com for xbox 360 fix. It will bring up a whole slew of videos on how to fix the faulty motherboard.
What you will be doing is using different bolts to clamp down the heatsink and another item connected to the motherboard. You will also be applying fresh thermopaste to the connects to get a better connection. This is a short short answer of what you will do.
On to your second xbox.....
Your overheating the xbox 360 when the two red lights come on. I can't remember if its the left two lights that illuminate(I believe it is) or the right two but if the two vertical red lights come on after some gameplay it means your getting it to hot.
Some remedies for this are the intercooler sold for the xbox360.
I like to put a few books on the corner of my 360 to prop it up(xbox is in the horizontal position) to let air circulate underneath it.
I also cut a 1.5 inch by 3 inch hole above the power button. This will involve opening the xbox, and removing the case to cut but once done you wouldn't believe the amount of air flow you get through this hole.
Well I've tried to give you the best answer I possibly can. I hope this helps. If it does help you could you find it in your heart to give me a good rating?