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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Designing a new workshop

Now the dark nights are with us,due to the powers at be changing the clocks to get more day light hours (there are only a set amount in 24 hours or have they not got that yet)

I have got the time to sit here working out the new workshop bearing in mind most workshops evolve around necessity and what's in the pocket.

I remember from my school days,sitting in the metal workshop and being given a project.You have been given a £100 go out and list the tools you require for a basic workshop (Yes those of you out there are now trying to guess my age!) My question would be now,how many school children could do that exercise now,even with raised capital!

Obviously I do now have the knowledge of what we require but there will always be areas we'll miss.

Basics,the area I require.I have worked out the area to be at least 20 feet by 12 feet.Benches will be made the full length down each side.These will be made in heavy timber construction with steel tops,so that I can build in draws and cupboard space for tools,and so I can sit my heavy jaw vice to.

For all the mowers we work on small or large,one item I have promised myself is an hydraulic platform/workbench which will sit in the middle saves your back! Over the top I will build a simple running gantry for my block and tackle for lifting engines out,or lifting the frames to get the rollers out.There is nothing worse in struggling at the wrong height.

Power Well we need light! plus power points but also I'm going to have compressed air,its actually quite in expensive these days for what you can use it for,this brings me to the size of compressor needed as I am also building a shot blasting area (another project)

Now as many of you have got time on your hands. I am going to set a task.

You have been given a virtual shed 10 feet by 8 feet with light and 2 power points and a bloody good lock on the door! The community chest of the Old Lawn Mower Club have managed to find you £2000 from a discarded Atco toolbox,please list the tools you require to build your state of the art lawn mower man cave! (If you are of a gentile age,then the use of a high stool and kettle are permissible)

I look forward to your replies

Best Andrew

Messorestore Sat, 31/10/2020

Hello Mr Hall. It's a very interesting exercise you have set us all. I feel that I need a little more information for example are we restoring or working on all manner of mowers or like myself mainly pre 1920's push mowers. Push mowers would need far less big and sophisticated machinery than say a sit on mower that needs work. Are we permitted to buy second hand machinery as this can vary so much in price ie I have just recently bought a fantastic copy lathe for coughing out all manner of rollers and handles in quantity for a bargain price of £75 ! 
I am currently having a new workshop built (20x20 feet) with plenty of benches, power points etc and another separate area (20x10 feet)  for mower display. Security camera with intruder notification linked to my mobile phone is far more effective than even the largest, strongest lock ( systems are surprisingly inexpensive nowadays) Perhaps we could compare notes but I will never be able to compare my mowers with your superb collection. Does the budget have room for a bed and telly ?  Sean

hdtrust Sat, 31/10/2020


The task allows you to buy where ever second hand or new,when it comes to security yes I agree you can do more or less,for my money it would be better to lay shingle outside your shed,as no one can cross that without making a noise.Its Ok using the internet or a phone but where we are we still have dead zones and to be honest a poachers cartrigde has a longer and better effect! 

As for hand mowers you would be suprised at some of the tools we use regulary to restore some of our basket cases! That drummond you have been working on,would be in and out done inside a week but then again we have nearly 50 years experiance between us.We regulary are making new castings even to parts which are missing.

I'm sure Borris has seen this task as he has now given us more time to complete it

Kind regards


wristpin Sat, 31/10/2020


First aid kit

Whitworth spanners



Messorestore Sat, 31/10/2020

Unfortunately you have to cross a grassed area to get to my workshops so gravel would cause somewhat of a problem for me when mowing as the pea shingle would be fired through the glass windows like shrapnel when mowed. Not to mention the blades having then to be regularly sharpened.

olcadmin Sun, 01/11/2020

Good challenge Andy

Having been a collector and restorer for many years I would recommend that anyone starting out should get a good set of spanners, as wristpin recommends. In particular, you will need BSW (Whitworth) for most old machinery although other "imperial" measurements are also common.

My parents bought me a really nice socket set when I was just starting out and I still use it regularly more than 40 years later. Along the way I have added more sockets across BSW, AF and Metric sizes. Sockets aren't always the most practical, however, so I also have sets of open-ended and ring spanners. Incidentally, I always carry a couple of adjustables in the car - you never know when you might come across something that needs dismantling to get in the boot!

Moving on to more specialist workshop kit, I have always intended to get a shot blasting cabinet. One of these would have saved all sorts of time over the years but I still haven't gotten around to it even though I now have the space for one. That said, I quite like stripping paint and rust off by hand because I can spot all kinds of details that I would probably miss otherwise.

Another good investment it seems to me would be a degreasing tank. Most projects will require some cleaning of parts so this too would save a lot of time. It might be a bit of a luxury for the amount of time spent using it though.

Other useful items worth having in the toolkit include impact screwdriver for undoing stubborn nuts and bolts, a screw extractor set for broken bolts or when you are too aggressive with the impact driver! And I always have a wide selection of scrapers, knives, files, and sanding blocks/paper etc for cleaning off rust and paint. You can never have too many wire brushes either.

I guess for most collectors the challenge is lack of space and being able to justify the expense of anything beyond the basics. Or perhaps the dilemma is choosing between acquiring another interesting machine or installing another piece of workshop kit.

Perhaps the answer is if you can afford it and will use it a lot then it will be worth the expense. But for many people, the cost of getting someone else to do some occasional specialist job or other (eg shot blasting, welding etc) might actually be less that buying the specialist kit and rarely using it.

Finally, I've always had a radio in my shed/workshop and have spent many, many hours listening to sport or music while I work.





wristpin Sun, 01/11/2020

Moving on to more specialist workshop kit, I have always intended to get a shot blasting cabinet. One of these would have saved all sorts of time over the years but I still haven't gotten around to it even though I now have the space for one. That said, I quite like stripping paint and rust off by hand because I can spot all kinds of details that I would probably miss otherwise.

The problem is that a decent sized sized cabinet needs a decent sized compressor and that probably needs a three-phase power supply. Oh, and a dust extractor!

And so it goes on!


mikehpw1 Sun, 01/11/2020

On the subject of shot blasters, they are amazing.  You don’t need a large compressor. I bought one 6 months ago together with a 2.2kw compresor 1ph. 240 volt it works fine. If you do go ahead, a couple of things I’ve learnt. Don’t buy the type that comes in flat pack that you have to bolt together, they leak like buggery, grit everywhere, get a welded together  type. I paid about £400 from MachineMart and upgraded the lighting, the gun and suction system myself, I know that sounds crazy but they absolutely need it, it still worked out cheeped than going to the professional kit at 2/3K. I won’t bore you with the upgrade details but if anybody wants to know please ask. Another time saver is my tumbler. I made my own, a big bugger for about 30 Quid, those available are expensive for what they are and are really quite small and only good for nuts and bolts, I throw all sorts in , brackets, castings, just switch on and leave it overnight, everything sparkling in morning. I would attach pics but haven’t mastered that on this site yet so if anybody wants details of components I used email me. Cheers

wristpin Sun, 01/11/2020

I bought what is possibly a similar one from Sealey a few years back,and upgraded the internal lighting and added  dust extraction using  a cheap Chinese cyclone connected to an old Henry vacuum. I only use glass beads as the blasting medium . I did try crushed glass but it was a bit brutal for alloy castings .  For carburettors I use baking soda.

What abrasive do you use in the tumbler.

mikehpw1 Sun, 01/11/2020

Did exactly that myself together with fancy Venturi system from the US. I use 

5/5 Ceramic abrasive media suitable for vibratory Tumblers - Quantity:4kg £ 34.50 1 £ 34.50

For removing rust and paint, works a treat, for polishing walnut shells





Lee Smallwood Mon, 02/11/2020

Unfortunately my workshop is my garage at home, a 3/4 length garage at that as the other quarter became a downstairs loo and shower. So I have to work around kids bikes, fishing gear household items my work stuff and an old fish tank that we use when our pond fish have babies. I have a bench grinder, a small roll cab and top box, I say small as I didn't read description when buying it,  I have made a small spray booth out of mdf that folds flat and slides behind roll cab, my drills and power tools are in my van which are brought out when I'm tinkering. Wire brush drill attachments and flap discs on a small grinder are my biggest godsends, I don't have space for a blasting or cleaning cabinet but out of the two I'd have a parts cleaner, but when you get something spotless by hand is quite satisfying even if it takes a lot longer, definately  a cheap set of screw extractors for broken bolts has saved my skin a few times, I do have quite a lot of worktop space to work with as fitted kitchen units to store away paint, car and caravan equipment etc, I'm lucky to have a fully sized single garage I own about 5 minutes away as my mower store which is now getting to the point of needing a row of shelving to organise and display my machines as they are now being walked over to get to the back. A job for lockdown as I'm going be out of work next week. I'll add photos when this is done. Happy tinkering everyone. Stay safe 

hdtrust Tue, 03/11/2020

Keep the comments coming,I'm picking up tips all the time,I do agree with welding if its only a few times you need it,then it is better to farm the work out.

Hi Keith are those adjustable spanners metric or whitworth? and have you also got a set of whitworth hammers.

My new workshop will have my trusty gas torch with a rose bud for warming up stubborn parts.There is a draw back with acetylene,BOC keeps upping the price of the bottles.The way I've found around that is to swap the acetylene for Propane but still keep the Oxygen,although not as hot.Its ample for our work and I can still braze with it easily .

My trusted wood lathe will follow me in from the old workshop,I also have an Atlas metal lathe and a small Colchester but I think I'm going to sell them and get a new lathe with a over head milling machine.

For those of you who don't know Drummond in the 1920's made allot of small engineering tools for home workshops,to include metal shapers,and benders,over the years on my travels I've found them,they to will be going into the workshop

All I'm waiting for now is someone to mention a 3D printer! We still use the foundry

Kind regards


Seb Tue, 03/11/2020

I have to say a mid range mig welder is worth its weight in gold, as is an oxy-acetylene torch; I've been successful at welding low stress castings using mig and oxy-propane at the same time, but I much prefer acetylene for this purpose.

A lathe and a mill are also invaluable, I've just found a colchester triumph, and am looking for a Bridgeport next

other tools for a decent workshop: a good set of plate rolls, a big soaking tank of diesel, a fly press and an infinite selection of pullers...

a planer-thicknesser for wood

A casting furnace and some sand boxes would be nice too!

we can but dream

P.S. when are you going to let me measure one of those 24" ransomes? 

olcadmin Tue, 03/11/2020

I have special adjustable spanners - they are both metric and imperial at the same time!

No hammers but the screwdrivers seem to be imperial.

More seriously, I also have a wood lathe and I love to make my own rollers and handles.

Another useful set of tools I have acquired fairly recently are some BSW taps and dies which I use to clean the threads of nuts and bolts.

wristpin Tue, 03/11/2020

I have special adjustable spanners - they are both metric and imperial at the same time!

Joking aside , there are “metrinch” socket sets that cover imperial and metric nut sizes and some Whitworth.

Just Google Metrinch



hdtrust Tue, 03/11/2020

Hi Seb

Is not the answer in the question - 24 inches

Tell me what measurements you require and I will send them to you with photos.

Even though you are in deepest Cornwall there is such a thing as lock down and only essential travel.

Unfortunately we all now fall into the older groups of 60 and above,so social distancing of at least 2 counties away please

Kind regards