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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Winter prep


Over the past couple of years I have accumulated a small collection of mowers and I have always wondered if I should do more to protect them over the winter months.

Blades are specially a worry due to the expense of keeping them sharp. 


I would normally empty the petrol tank and grease the joints. Is the anything else I should be doing?

My garage is fairly dry but may have a moist atmosphere due to a poorly fitting garage door and my wife insisting on keeping the tumble dryer in there. 


Antbr123 Sat, 10/11/2018

Hi dunnes2002

I have no doubt that others will offer suggestions and it is possible each to their own here, but my "two penneth worth" given that I have similar storage conditions is as follows.

1.  Wipe all blades down and ensure clean from grass/grime.  Then I like to smear oil on my finger and gently wipe along the blades leaving a thin film.,  Probably not recommended practice due to "elth and safety" but I get better feeling in my fingers if not wearing gloves.

2.  Same for bottom blades.

3.  Nuts and bolts I use penetrating oil/WD-40....more as a safety precaution again it makes me feel better!

4.  Where (particularly on JP mowers) there is a blade paralellism adjuster, I free the tension off and lubricate with oil to stop any stiffening - in fact this is good practice every time you finish mowing.

If I am storing in the same place as I am working, I also like to detatch handles on push-mowers and then get clear plastic rubble bags and store the chasis in those, tied up at the neck, to keep dust/spray out.  Any wooden handles on old lawn mowers, if bare wood, I wipe linseed oil over the wood and leave to absorb.

Finally the catch-all statement - refer to the maintenance manuals for your mower - some of which you may find on this website....noting the lubrication points.

To be honest not sure if I am not really stating the obvious here - but hope it helps.....other than I am thinking about a draft excluder for my garage door!!



wristpin Sat, 10/11/2018

If the tumbler dryer is exhausting into the garage , you certainly need plenty of ventilation  - from an ill fitting  door or otherwise.  Consider fitting an external exhaust kit to the dryer.

Draining the fuel tanks and running to empty the carbs may well avoid stale fuel issues but it you have fuel taps with cork plungers they may shrink and leak when recommissioned in the spring. Some people have reported success in getting the shrunk plungers to swell by soaking in fuel but I’ve never had much success.

NM Sat, 10/11/2018

Hi, the operators manual for the Marquis says to drop a bit of oil into spark plug hole and rotate engine a couple of times. Then leave with piston at t.d.c to close off combustion chamber. Shouldn’t the oil be changed at the end of the season as well.

wristpin Sun, 11/11/2018

Then leave with piston at t.d.c to close off combustion chamber. 

Spot on, just past tdc should also mean that the points are closed to limit the risk of corrosion on the faces. Changing the oil and running the engine for half a minute to distribute the clean oil around the internals cant be wrong either. 

Back in the 60s there was a firm selling dummy spark plugs that released an anti corrosion vapour around the inside of the engine . The instructions suggested plugging the exhaust tail pipe and carb intake with a bit of oil soaked rag to keep the vapour in.

dunnes2002 Sun, 11/11/2018

It's a condensing tumble dryer but plenty of moisture escapes. Thanks for all the advice, will sort the two running mowers this week. 


Does anyone put WD40 on the blades? Got the tip from a friend? 

wristpin Sun, 11/11/2018

While WD is a Water Dispersant it does dry out over time. Painting the blades with engine oil is possibly as good as anything. There used to be a product called Supertrol that had more body than WD but I haven't seen it for a while. 

cwj123 Mon, 12/11/2018

I use ACF 50 rather than wd40.I have used this on motorbike/lawnmower.It is expensive , a little goes a long way.Read reviews it is very good.

wristpin Mon, 12/11/2018

I'm a great fan of Owatrol, either mixed with paint when spraying or applied neat over painted or bare metal surfaces . Also useful for preserving the patina on machines being left in an unrestored state to prevent further deterioration. For patina preservation, slightly diluting with white spirit  aids application, hastens drying time and reduces the gloss a bit.

Clive1997 Mon, 12/11/2018

The question has been answered with some great advice but if you have one rather special mower that you want to keep warm & dry, I feel its only fair that in exchange for accommodating the tumble dryer in the garage, surely in return a corner of the kitchen could house that rather special mower. 

I have visited members house where mowers have been in dining rooms, lounges, entrance halls & even in a fireplace in the bedroom.

Good luck.


stevecross Tue, 13/11/2018

Back in the early 60s as a schoolboy when I worked part-time for a local horticultural machinery firm they told me to wrap the mower engine in brown paper over the winter. Nobody explained why, but I religiously did so for years after with my Dad's 12 inch Atco. Does anyone know why you would do this? Or were "the lads" just playing a practical joke? If so, they must have had a good laugh!

wristpin Tue, 13/11/2018

May have been in the same category as being sent for a long wait or a bag of stream.  I've always advised against covering with anything absorbent such as old curtains or quilts which, by startup (or not) time would be decidedly damp. To keep the machine clean a sheet of polythene over the top but clear of the ground to alow air movement is as good as anything.

Antbr123 Tue, 13/11/2018

Spot on Angus.

The polythene sheeting weighed down with a left handed spade or sky hook works best!

stevecross Thu, 15/11/2018

OK, so the choke's on me!

The Atco was a good little mower although it suffered from a sticking float which we never sorted out. Often it caught you unawares and left the lawns with brown stripes. Eventually we managed to break the recoil starter and had to resort to a knotted rope, using the notch in the pulley, which worked well but blistered your hand when it was a bit recalcitrant in starting.

The photos shows the mower in 1963 and 1967. Note the grassbox. I thought that with just the Atco decals it looked a bit dull, so dug out all my unused Airfix decals and added those. I thought it was just the job but my Dad wasn't impressed. The little Atco did a good job, especially if you disengaged the drive to the roller and used it as a hand mower, whereby you could get more cuts per yard by pushing it slower than the normal driven speed at the same revs.

When finally it was replaced by a newer Atco it stood outside and gradually rusted. One day it was put out for the bin-men to collect, and hadn't been there for more than a few minutes when someone driving past stopped, knocked on the door and asked if he could have it for spares which we happily agreed to. This would have been in the 1980s. I'd like to think that parts of it are still in use somewhere, although preferably not brown-paper-wrapped for the Winter!