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if its a briggs and stratton engine you will need to remove the top plastic cover then take out the 3 bolts out of the starter cowl, 1 on the front, one on back left and one back right. the one back left may also have be securing the exhaust guard . the bolts are 3/3" (10mm) after the bolts have been removed you just lift up the cowl/starter assembly
the catch 'pawls' are worn and bad and need to be replaced,, or the catch 'pawls' spring is broken.
you can buy a rebuild kit for this at you local generator repair shop,, this will restore the pull function to normal.
sounds like you have dirt in the recoil clutch, (under the screen) or you bent something there. try removing the clutch and make sure shaft is very clean and lightly coated with oil. This would be for a briggs and stratton engine.