Mower only starts with air filter off

I have an older snapper mower. About 17+ years, like the way it cuts. Can anyone suggest how to set the carborator. I have to take the air filter off and keep the throtle in the fast position. If I try to set it to "choke" it doesn't start. I know it must need a fine adjustment. Thanks
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So it sounds like it is set too rich. I would turn the adjustments in 1/8th turn and try it. If it still won't start I'd try another 1/8th. But it is possible that the float is stuck open also allowing too much gas to come in.
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