ID'ing an old Webb
I wondered if any body could help me find the serial number on an old (1960's 70's) Webb lawn mower?
I thnk the cutting cylinder is 18" and it has a B&S engine, thats about all I know.
with regards the serial, some machines have a plate on the side where the recoil starter is. if it's been painted over by someone, a good tip is a flame over it for a few seconds and then rub back with a bit of 600g sand paper or wet and dry paper. solves that little mystery. there may be info to the rear of the machine near the roller scraper. other than that, engine specs if it's a briggs engine. I think it may be a diplomat or something like that but without feeling the machine, don't know.
they're nice machines and well designed. do you have the handle frame where there are two plastic handles with the controls as triggers? if so, be very careful, these plastic handles break and once that's happened, that's it. you'll be incredibly lucky if you find a pair to replace.
Thanks for the reply Lew, The only controls are 2 white bakerlite type. 1 to control the throttle, and one to change the drive (I think?) as well as a lever to let the clutch out.
Is it possible to re-sharpen the existent blade?
I'll check for the plate tomorrow
I've included a photo if any body can ID it from that?
the cylinder is resharpenable without question.
before you take it for a regrind, just to save you a little money as some service centers charge you to clean, strip, etc, the blades. the best thing is to remove the cylinder yourself and with a small wire brush and some paraffin give the blade a scrub, even a scraper will help get rid of years of debris.. the bed knife will also need sharpening as both work together to give a perfect cut.
you can in most cases sharpen the cylinder yourself using a product from Multi-Sharp. the website is
this is a useful product for most sharpening needs providing your cylinder isn't totally worn. This will mount to the underside of the bed knife and you run the blade at a slow speed to get the initial grind. adjust it a couple of times so the abrasive gets the cylinder balanced. listen to the way the cylinder runs while it's sharpening.
after all this is done, either sing this product or taking the cylinder and bed knife to a specialist, I'd invest in a tub of grinding compound which you brush on once in a while to keep the cylinder and bed knife in check. it's basically a back lapping method and I recommend it. does an amazing job.
the most important thing to remember about your cylinder besides maintenance is that a restored blade will give great performance. If you're restoring your blade and machine completely, take the cylinder out, fully clean it, spray with a decent primer like red oxide, then a top coat of royal red or cherry red metal coat. 2 coats will do. let it dry hard. then use a stanley blade or scraper on the blade heads to scrape off the paint to expose bear metal. this saves your sharpening system or the specialist's equipment from clogging up with debris and paint ruining expensive tooling. the last trick in this is a bit of 180 grit sanding paper rolled up and then flattened so it's pretty stiff. run the sheet across each blade head a few times running with the direction of the head. this helps check the blade for any imperfections in my experience.
What is the condition of the mower? I'm intrigued. what do you plan doing with it? I'd love to know.
I've always been a big fan of decent English engineering (I collect old air rifles) and this is just another example, so i think it need and deserves a bit of TLC. It would have been better if it had a Villiers or BSA engine but you cant have everything.
The mower its self is not to bad, it needs a new set of rollers because of dry rot. The last time I used it was about it didnt seem to manage thicker grass without stalling....maybe the gap between the cylinder and the blade?
On the question painting, what kind of paints are they? anything like Hammerite? I really would like to completely refurb it and set it up to use on my garden.
sounds like a decent machine. the B&S engines are decent and common on 70's webbs. so you're OK on that. As regards doing a refurb, I'd be more than happy to offer any help, advice, etc. I undertake various machines for restoration or refurbishment or even modernisation.
Regarding the front rollers, use something like hickory, ash or a smooth hardwood and turn it on a metal lathe. bore out just over the diameter of the support rod for play. You can get rollers through the british lawn mower museum at a reasonable price. provide bore size, lengths, etc. Your other option would be if you can get hold of it, a solid steel front roller which would be easier to manage. you can manufacture one with a solid 2.5" steel shaft and bore out bearing set holes and room for shafts to float and modify slightly the mounts or do a through hole which can take time but worth it.
as regards paints. I use a two way method. firstly a 2 coat primer such as red oxide or grey oxide primer for the chassis. this is after fully stripping down the machine, cleaning the steel using an angle grinder with a flap wheel or wire wheel. after wiping down with some thinners, start the primer process. leave to dry for about a day for a fully stable finish. then spray paint. I go between manufacturers of sprays depending on the machine. in most cases I use Plastikote for primer and top coats as well as a clear sealer for extra sheen.
The cylinder and bed knife need to be as sharp as possible and in contact from A to B for a balanced run. if there's a taper in the cylinder or deflection on the knife it needs to be resolved.
if ever you're in the north wales are and need a little help on the restoration, I've no problem giving some pointers, etc ir if you're struggling, I'd be happy to take on the work.
best thing for you to do is work out a step by step plan of your refurb. work out what coatings to use, etc. any parts which need repair or replacement, etc. There are various things to consider when doing a refurb.
when restoring the engine, be aware that if you're going to do a clean coat of paint. use a heat treatment paint rated to between 500 and 600C. after it's applied, let it settle and then warm the engine up steadily to bake the paint on. my preferred method is flame hardening but this is done with the fuel source well away and the carb removed.
if you need any help, drop me a line at email@example.com
Sounds like a plan, thanks for all the info. I should be able to plan my attack now.
I managed to get some more info off the machine today. Its a 18" Mod 250, and the serial number is M 9023 if that makes sense.
If I get stuck I'll deffo email!
Many thanks again
What you have there is a "Standard 18" (standard as opposed to the de-luxe 18")
Built in about 1965 and available in both 14 and 18" widths. It was a good basic solid machine and there are still a few in use with their original owners.
Are you aware that you can date any Briggs engine (assuming that it has its original engine cowling - blower housing in Briggs speak - from the numbers stamped into it?. You will find the words Model, Type and Code stamped into the housing and below each word a series of numbers and letters. The Model and Type will give the exact spec of the engine and the Code the build date..
So if your code is 650309XX it was built on the 9th day of the 3rd month of 1965. The xx are two additional digits denoting the assembly line and manufacturing plant where it was built. New blower housings used to come with a sticker onto which the old model type and code could be written so that the correct spares could be ordered in the future. Of course all this is a waste of time if someone has swapped blower housings with that from a scrap engine when repairing the engine in the past . Then you can, for example, be repairing a horizontal crank engine when all the numbers are telling you that its got a vertical crank!
Anyway, back to your situation , and assuming that the engine is original, I would expect the code to suggest an engine build date of around 1965/66.
Very interesting indeed! Unfortunately the engine was replaced in the 80's so its not original. I would love to know the exact type of engine that it was originally fitted with so I could maybe source one on e-bay. The one it currently has is I think 2 horse power.....is that right for this machine?
Thanks you for your input
That would be about right - it does not take a lot to drive a cylinder mower. I will have a look but I don't think that any of my literature will go any further than saying B & S 2HP engine. If memory serves me correctly the engine would have been finished in a dull silver all over and would have had an air vane governor as opposed to a mechanical one. Lasting memory of those machines is that when removing the blower housing to service them there would always be a "birds nest" of tightly packed fine grass clippings all round the coil and cylinder which if not regularly removed would lead to overheating and loose valve seats!
If you are going to remove the cutting cylinder for sharpening be careful not to damage the thin circular metal bearing shields as I doubt if they will be easy to find now.