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Check the fuel system for plugged fuel filter, these will have an in line filter and they often get plugged up. Check your fuel lines for holes,kinks or pinching. These will rust in the tank from storing all summer condensation builds water forms then rust. Clean fuel system out good to include the screen in behind the nozzle assembly. While you have the cover off clean out the photoelectric eye and igniter. If the fuel is old change it out as well.
Wow! Yours is the best description of a problem I have ever seen!!! Before I read the whole thing I figured you missed the pressure check as most people do but you nailed it. This is what I would try, Replace the air filter, the fuel filter, and the fuel (to make absolutely sure there is no water in the fuel) and readjust the fuel/air mixture. If that does not do it replace the cadmium cell they only cost pennies. Let me know how you make out and good luck.
PS, I have one of these so I am pretty familiar with the problems.
the first thing you need to do is go back to useing K1 kerosene, diesel fuel not only burns dirty but also has a tendency to gel up in cold weather which could be makeing it hard for the heater to draw the proper amount of fuel. To reset the pressure you will need a gage, it should run at about 6-7 psi. you can order a pressure gage from mr. heater online, they are by far the cheapest I have found as they are the actual manufacturer or call 1-800-251-0001