Cliched story, I know: I didn't use the generator (4 Stroke Briggs & Stratton) for a long time, and when I tried it, it wouldn't start.
I'd pumped the gas out of the tank after I last used it, but I probably made the mistake of not running it to empty, so I figured that would be the problem.
Not that I really knew what I was doing, but I took apart the carb (not a full disassembly: just taking the cover off the bottom) and dumped out the gas that was there, and opened the shutoff to flush the remaining gas out. Closed it up, added gas and turned on the shutoff, and it caught and ran... for a second.
Tried this again (opening, flushing) a bunch of times more, but IIRC it maybe sputtered to life briefly once more.
I changed the spark plug. I also opened the air filter cover, opened the choke, and sprayed with carb cleaner. Closed the choke,started it up... and it ran for a second or two before sputtering out.
Each time I sprayed carb fluid in it would run for a second or two. If I acted quickly and sprayed more fluid in right after pulling the starter, it would keep running, though I didn't keep going this way for any extended period.
From this, I presumed it meant gas wasn't reaching the carburetor. I took the fuel line off where it met the carb, put the line into a gas can, and opened the shutoff, and fuel ran.
So gas is presumably reaching the carburetor from the tank. And if I'm able to sort-of run the generator (for a short time) by spraying carb cleaner into the air intake, something is reaching the cylinder.
But I'm stumped. Could it be that I'm consistently putting the carburetor together incorrectly? The only real loose part that had to be put back in place was a small spring.