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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

A sad inheritance

I may have briefly in this forum referred to the possibility last year that I would soon acquire my father's Atco Balmoral lawnmower due to his failing health. Sadly he has now passed away aged 90 and the Balmoral has now come into my possession. As he was a meticulous keeper of documentation, it came with a receipt dated 19-3-19 for a full service including new plug, airfilter, oil change, new pull cord and blades sharpened. Unfortunately, having just spent a fruitless hour or so trying to start it, this may not have been the exact case as you can see on the attached photo, the plug looks anything but new and in fact was quite coked up and oily. I know for a fact that the mower was not used after it's service, because sadly he was by then too frail to use it, resorting instead to a lightweight Flymo. This must have saddened him, because his lawn was very important to him. So, the mower, although nominally freshly serviced has been standing for a year. I drained the old fuel, cleaned the plug up and put in some new fuel. I checked that there was a spark. however it did not start. I then took the float bowl off the carb and it was practically dry. My conclusion is that the year's standing has gummed up the carb, so it needs a proper clean. Oh well, add that to the list of jobs to do... Good job I'm at home eh? The mower itself also comes with it's original invoice which shows that it was delivered in May 2000. I am looking forward to getting it going, not least because it will be far better than my current rotary. Then there's the ATCO Standard to get on with restoring.

Service receipt & oily spork plu

wristpin Sun, 29/03/2020

Before you strip the carb complexly, just drop the bowl again and turn on the fuel and give the float a wiggle and check for a decent flow . it may only be a stuck needle or a problem with the tap. 

Andy B Tue, 31/03/2020

Thank you, I shall certainly do that, the float bowl is fairly easy to,remove. I do note there is a slight leak from the fuel pipe which may have been a bit dislodged during the long journey home to Cornwall.

Andy B Mon, 06/04/2020

I am happy to report that the mower is up and running again after a carb strip-down, a blow through with compressed air and a good clean with STP carb cleaner. It did need the clean as it was quite gungy. Anyhow, it started second pull and I have subsequently cut the grass much better than my old rotary. Something I shall be doing again tomorrow. Interestingly Wristpin, there is no fuel tap. There are still one or two things to look at, for example the fuel cap is not doing a very good job and I notice it has a cork insert which did surprise me for a 21st century mower. I also noticed a bit of rough running to start, but although that did clear, I still noticed the odd puff of smoke from time to time. But mostly it was just such a pleasure to use a quality tool for a change. My grass, looks a bit rough sadly, combination of a female dog, lack of proper maintenance and a shady site. However, I have the summer to get it properly fettled and I'm sure my Dad, who was meticulous about his lawn will be looking down in approval.

wristpin Tue, 07/04/2020

That’s all good news. To aid the grass recovery program don’t  be tempted to cut too short; better to cut higher and more often. For a working lawn , rather than expensive lawn fertiliser or feed and weed a 20kg bag of Growmore is relatively cheap and applied sparingly works well.  Female dog circles ; there is a product called , I believe, Dog Rocs that you put in her water bowl that alters the ph of her output to the benefit of the grass. I did read somewhere that a couple of lumps of coal does the same.

A Balmoral is almost too modern for me but I can sort of visualise the tank with no tap; what engine do yo have? You will find that a can of fuel lasts a lot longer than when used in the rotary so it may be worth adding some stabiliser to the can as soon as you fill it at the pump.  Anyway, enjoy your inheritance and think of Dad.


djg745 Tue, 07/04/2020

I concur with Wristpin regarding cutting little and often.

Regarding fertiliser go to an amenity supplier to get the fertiliser, a 20kg bag of slow release fertiliser 22 3 10 will cost you about £35 ( 25 - 30 g/square metre cover will cover 666 to 800 square metres). Growmore has an N P K ratio of 7 7 7.

The 22 3 10 will be a better ratio for the grass, will not scorch if misapplied, and will release the nutrients over 3 - 4 months. It's the type of product the Lawn Management companies use.

Warpa Wed, 08/04/2020

Will that feed also be suitable to put down prior to topdresss and over seeding?

djg745 Wed, 08/04/2020

I would top dress first, followed by a cut and then apply the fertiliser. Regards overseeding it can be applied before or after.

There are other slow release fertilisers with similar N P K ratios, I have found the 22 3 10 with 66% slow release nitrogen works well and produces a good lawn. 

Picture of lawn last dry summer, mowed with Ransomes Sprite 2 stroke.

wristpin Wed, 08/04/2020

If your top dressing is gritty it may be wise to lift the cylinder away from the bottom blade a fraction. Alternatively water it in a bit before mowing.

Lee Smallwood Thu, 09/04/2020

I'm doing my first cut on my turf today, it's been down two weeks, watered everyday and it's growing well, I've got funny seedy looking growths in places, don't know what they are, I think it's the grass going to seed? So what machine to use, 

Choices I've got that I know are cutting well, Ajax, 14inch PCA, Eden, Colt, Viceroy, Vantage, Faye's Bosch rotary, a Flymo. 

Doninleave grass cuttings on the turf or remove?

wristpin Thu, 09/04/2020

At this stage in the lawn’s life I would say cut with a sharp cylinder mower and don’t leave the clippings on it. In fact if you are aiming for a decent lawn I would suggest always removing the clippings to avoid the risk of a “ mat “ building up is more important than any perceived benefit of them recycling nutrients.



djg745 Thu, 09/04/2020

The 'seedy' grass is probably Annual Meadow grass, it produces seed heads throughout the year, The true lawn grasses won't be seeding for another few weeks down here on the south coast, and a bit later the more northerly you are.