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1) Spark - pull the plug, connect the lead, hold against the head, spin it over. should be a hot blue spark.
2) Fuel - I'd be suspicious of your fuel. Here's a trick I use ALL THE TIME on my Craftsman ride on. For cold starts I remove the air filter and prime the carb with a squirt of fuel. It starts and keeps running. Without the prime it is a PITA.
Hope this helps.
check fuel filter first and that fuel pump works by openig at fuel pump and pushing fuel out just short of injection pump-- if no fuel pushes out prime fuel system by pushing air into fuel tank or using a in line hand fuel pump--- fill tank on tractor so that fuel is above injector pump also helps probably a prime problem
Sounds like your cylindes are not getting gas after shutting the engine down ..this happens if the engine continues to run a little after the ignition is shut off or have too much throttle when shutting down..pumping gas into the cylinder un burned..and when you try and start the unused gas is immediately ignited coming back through the intake valves and out the carb..two things let it idle diwn as low as it can and shut it down .another is to shut the fuel shutoff valve before shutting down and let the carb gas be used up..that will not allow gas into the cylinders..just remember to turn back on fir a few seconds to refill the carb bowl before starting..good luck..