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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Webb 18" standard model 250 circa 1960s


I have an old Webb that I have managed to get working reasonably well but today the clutch cable broke at the handle end. Probably too much strain as I only noticed the securing bolt had fallen off. Rather than scout for a new complete Bowden cable which I have seen on an auction site, could I just buy an inner cable? I haven't dismantled it yet but it has a lug or something that sits in the handle but I don't know yet how it connects at the other end. If it is just a cable held in with a screw or similar, could it be as simple as passing a new cable and securing? The part number of the cable is w29418. Any suggestions welcome but i am not an engineer or anything and do not have a mechanical background but I do have a practical side. Just love these old machines. I will try and supply pictures if required but the foul weather today precluded any further action. Many thanks to all. Suzanne

wristpin Thu, 02/06/2016


You should be able to buy Bowden inner at a decent cycle shop but unless you have suitable soldering equipment its probably a lot less hassle and not a lot of money to buy a new cable from someone such as Jon Cruse at the Hailsham Mower Centre.

The lever end of the cable has a soldered on "barrel nipple" and the bottom end a knurled threaded adaptor to screw onto the clutch rod - again soldered on with a small in line nipple.…

suzanne shaw Fri, 03/06/2016

Wow, quick and extremely helpful responses. Thanks very much and I'll look into this at the weekend when the weather improves. Suzanne

suzanne shaw Thu, 16/06/2016

I bought a replacement cable from Jon Cruse as suggested and eventually managed to fit it with some 'fettling' to the nipple end to fit in the handle recess. Not an easy fit as I have not done this before. Everything looked fine and the handle engages and releases as it should but the v belt is now loose. I have adjusted the belt tensioner as much as possible and I have moved the spring as described too but the belt still appears loose when the clutch is released and only partially engages the drive  i.e. the belt slips as it should if the clutch had not been released.   I need to get the belt tighter and as it is new, and working well before the clutch cable broke, I have obviously fitted something wrong or not adjusted something following refit of the clutch cable. It is incredibly frustrating as it was all going so well. Some further advice would be very helpful and soothing. Thank you.

wristpin Thu, 16/06/2016

Another case where an image or two would make it much easier to offer advice.


" I have obviously fitted something wrong or not adjusted something following refit of the clutch cable. It is incredibly frustrating as it was all going so well. Some further advice would be very helpful and soothing. "

What's "obvious" to you is a guessing game for us. Your frustration is shared!

suzanne shaw Thu, 16/06/2016

Yes, you are quite right and I will post some photos soon. Sorry for not doing so earlier but just was frustrated after several hours of fiddling.

wristpin Thu, 16/06/2016

Looking forward to the images but meanwhile I've had a thought.

Is there a connection between the cable failure and the current lack of belt tension?

The jockey pulley that tensions the belt (as in the pulley that rides on the back of the belt) is carried on two arms (24) and is moved away from the belt by cable tension and returned against it by spring tension. Those arms are pivoted on a "bolt" (40) that is supported by a bracket on one side and the chassis on the other and are separated by a spacer tube. That tube can seize on the bolt.

If you place a finger on that bolt head and operate the clutch lever and can feel any rotational movement you will know that rather than the tube rotating around the bolt it is partially seized to it and attempting to turn it.  I believe that the tube has an "oil hole" for lubrication but if seizure has started it possibly will be necessary to remove the bolt, clean it up, lubricate it  and reassemble it while checking that the arms carrying the jockey pulley are free to move without putting undue strain on the new cable and allowing the spring to pull the pulley against the belt without stiffness or obstruction.

Page 6 of this scan of a Webb24 manual illustrates a similar system except in this application there are dual belts side by side, but the set up is similar to the Standard 14 and 18" machines.…

suzanne shaw Tue, 21/06/2016

Thanks very much for your patience Wristpin. I have attached some photos but a couple are out of focus but may be useful. I checked out the point you made about a possible sticking bolt but that seemed fine.  I had time today (and the weather) for a fiddle around and the text and information you provided made me suspect the new cable was 'in tension' when the clutch was engaged i.e. handle in the down position. I adjusted the barrel adjuster and saw the spring become slightly more able to allow full movement of the jockey pulley. In order to get a bit more tension in the belt I also moved the 2 things that are adjustable i.e. spring bolt and the bit at the top to 'push' the belt in further. Apologies I do not know the name of these things. This has provided enough tension for the belt to run both blades and roller but there is no more adjustment I can make in the future should the belt loosen over time (it is almost new). I think the machine was 'fettled' in the past before I got it as one of the pins the belt goes over appears home made. This is the pin at the top of the pictures of the belt. It appears to be working now so thank you so much for your input . Suzanne


Handle end. Note, old cable had nipple only, no adjuster barrel or locking nutClutch not engaged, belt loose as expectedBelt under some tension with clutch engagedClutch engaged also showing adjuster nut for spring positionBarrel adjuster under drive shaft cover - I think I tightened too much!!

wristpin Tue, 21/06/2016

Good that you've made progress and the images are useful.

Two points

The anchor bracket for the spring can be swung and moved downwards to increase the tension and should only touch the belt when the drive is disengaged 

With the drive engaged ( belt under tension) the two L shaped brackets (belt keepers) either side and below the top pulley should be just clear of the belt and not pushing on it . I know that the rounded shape of the brackets suggests that they should push against the belt but they should only touch it in the disengaged situation and their purpose is to make the slack belt lift off the top pulley to stop it driving.

Looking at your images it seems that the belt is too long and that the keepers are being used to tension it . That is not correct.

You mention that the belt is newish - does it have the size markings visible? From memory it was an A36 and the correct belt had a " fabric covering" to make it slip in the disengaged state Back in the day they were marked Dawson Speedona .

When I'm in the office later this evening I will see if I can dig out a diagram illustrating the position of the keepers etc.


I've not been able to find a decent image for your 18" Standard but these pix show the belt set up on an 18" De Luxe and a Twenty Four and show the general principle. Note the text in both which emphasise that the keepers should not be touching the belt when under tension (in drive)…


suzanne shaw Sun, 04/09/2016

A long time in coming back but I have discovered that I ordered the wrong cable. The one I needed only had the 'barrel adjuster' at one end but the one I ordered has adjusters at both ends. I think the workbook I used only showed a later model's cable. Anyhow I filed off using a hacksaw the adjuster at the handle end, re-fitted the cable and all is well. It all works as well as it did before the initial cable broke. I have since repaired a non-working chainsaw so I am becoming a bit more savvy in mechanical/petrol things. The forums provide a massive source of information. Thanks for all your help everyone and you live and learn.