MP079: Ransomes Cub

Ransomes Cub sidewheel mower.

The Ransomes Cub was a sidewheel mower made during the 1930s, 40s and early 50s. It was one of the company's least expensive mowers of the period and was aimed at the mass domestic (ie home user) market. 

The design was simple and effective. In its catalogues and brochures, Ransomes described the Cub as "These are light but strong side-wheel mowers at a competitive price, and they represent excellent value. Thousands are in the hands of satisfied users. The latest model has high driving wheels with overtyres. and a lipped bottom blade."

The Cub incorporated a number of features which, while not innovative, showed that Ransomes thought carefully about the design of even its most basic models. In the 1939 catalogue the following features were highlighted:

  • "High driving wheels with overtyres to prevent dirt entering the gearing" - the main side wheel had an additional outer rim (the overtyre) which made the overall diameter larger. There was a gap between the outertyre and the main wheel which helped keep lawn debris away from the mechanism. Earlier versions of the Cub do not appear to have had this feature. 

  • "Welded cutting cylinder with five Sheffield steel knives" - on earlier mowers the blades were pinned or wedged into the spider or frame, probably because this was the only way of doing it, which allowed the blades to be replaced or repositioned more easily if they became damaged or worn. Welding the blades in place was easier and cheaper (when the technology to do so became available) but meant that the whole blade had to be replaced if anything was damaged.

  • "Lipped Sheffield steel bottom blade" - Sheffield was still the world's centre of steel making expertise and the association was clearly intended to provide a positive endorsement of the design.

  • "Adjustable cutting cylinder bearings" this feature, which was common on many of the more expensive mowers, allowed adjustment to compensate for wear in the bearings which would otherwise make the mechanism less precise. As the bearings wear away the shaft at each end of the cylinder can move about which makes it difficult to adjust or set the bottom and cylinder blades. The adjustment eliminated this movement which meant the mower could then be set properly.

The Cub was available in 10in, 12in and 14in models. Prices ranged from 36/6 to 44/-. As usual, the grass box and front delivery plate was extra. A longer handle was also available to allow the Cub to be used for mowing banks and other areas where the operator could not easily walk directly behind the machine.

Ransomes named a number of its sidewheel mowers with a feline theme during this period, with models including the Lion, Lioness and Leo as well as the Cub. Much of the advertising for these machines included images of the associated animals and might be considered an early attempt at "branding" mowers. 

Ransomes Leo and Cub advertisement.

The Cub is not the rarest mower but it is less common that the Lion or Leo models. However, many mower enthusiasts have examples in the collections.