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Starting Puzzler

Subject: Starting Puzzler
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2004 17:30:07 EDT
This morning our good friend Jack arrived in good shape in his TD at our 
weekly meeting of Krispy Kreme Donut Derelicts, Mountain View (CA) chapter.
When he got ready to go, the car would happily turn over, but would not 
cough, much less fire and start up.
So we pushed him to a good speed and the car started up (albeit a little 
reluctantly), but then smoothed out and he headed off home.
My question: If he could get the engine to turn over with the starter but not 
start, and then we got it to start by pushing and popping the clutch -- which 
seems to me to be doing nothing more than making the engine turn over -- why 
would it start then?
What's the difference between a starter merrily turning over the engine, and 
a group of pushers causing the engine to turn over?

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