Lawnboy 6431 stopped running
I have owned this mower since new - 1987 - and last weekend, while running it to vacuum leaves off my pool deck, it stopped, just as though I had released the handle to stop it.
That seemed very strange, and, stranger still, when I pulled the cord to restart it, there was no engine compression, none. You can pull the cord just a couple of inches and watch it rotate slowly as if the mower is somehow in neutral. The blade still turns as you pull the cord, though.
The engine ran perfectly until this happened, and I have never struck anything that would have stressed the internals, but I'm guessing that the piston is no longer moving through its cycle, which makes me think that the connecting rod has either broken or somehow come loose from the piston (I've never viewed this engine inside, so am just speculating here).
What other checks can I do to diagnose the problem, and is this a repair that makes sense to do, one that a newbie might attempt (I'm not shy about digging into unfamiliar territory if I have all the info and parts I need to do the job)?
I love this old mower because it has been so dependable in service (no problems to speak of during its service life until now), and I love the way it vacuums leaves, and now, it's something of an odd duck in everyday life, so I hate to scrap it.
Taking it into a shop seems impractical to me. A good shop will legitimately need too much money to fix it, and some of the less honorable shops around me would probably do a bad job while taking me to the cleaners. Others will refuse service because they don't have the parts.
Advice would be most appreciated.