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Reviving a vehicle that has been idle for a long time.

With the arrival of Spring, I went to dust off my riding lawn mower. It had been sitting under a tarp on a corner of my lawn all winter. The first thing I did was open the hood, which revealed an engine swarmed by ants. Closer examination revealed that the ants seem to have build a nest in last year's grass, dirt, and debris that accumulated on top of the blade guard. But a lot of the ants are at the top of the engine, in and around the fan-like thing (intake?).

The mower is a Murray model# 425007x92C. The engine is a Briggs & Stratton 17 HP, model# 313707, type 0126-1E.

I came here instead of trying to start it. Should I be concerned? How should I proceed? I'll be sure to clean off the blade guard (and all other areas) before storing it in the future, but what now?

My knowledge of internal combustion engines is minimal. Please let me know what additional information, if any, would be useful to you. Thanks!

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Pressure wash the whole thing, then examine the innards for ant carcasses. I believe if they are not inside the case, you should be able to just change any fluids, and re-service. This will allow you to return the machine to full service condition.

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