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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Villiers Midget query

Hi '

I'm not a lawnmower man I'm a vintage motorcyclist but we share a common interest of early Villiers engines.

Up to WWII Villiers motorcycle and industrial/ lawnmower engines were just about one and the same. They diverged wildly after WWII but up to 1940 were very much brothers under the skin.

At present I am researching the original Midget engine. The one that came out in 1931. The motorcycle version with engine number beginning CY is well documented and I have no bother there but as the only spares that pop up seem to be ex-lawnmower I want to find out more about them. For example, Midgets were made with engine prefixes CYA,CYB, CYB and even CYZ.. Has anyone any knowledge about these versions? I've also seen photos of lawnmowers with the Midget engine mounted up right rather than the usual forward slope. Are these exactly the same?

You see my confusion. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Is there some all embracing lawnmowere book that tells all?

Can you help.



gtc Sun, 21/07/2019

Member Sir Chook knows a lot about Atcos, which used the midget, so he may be able to add some info. I'll draw his attention to your post.

sir_chook Mon, 22/07/2019

Hi All,

My knowledge of the serial codes for the midget engines is limited to those that I have seen. I have one on a C1936 Atco Lightweight which has a code of CYC. What I do know is that this engine is one that is mounted upright and has a straight inlet, no decompression valve and a centrally mounted spark plug (looking from the top). 

I would suggest that each of the suffix letters either denotes a specific variation to the design or a particular specification of build that was supplied to a client (e.g had the decompression valve fitted or not etc). Unfortunately I do not know of a master list of codes and corresponding specifications.

Kind regards,

Sir Chook

Villiers Mon, 22/07/2019

Well, there you go Sir Chook. Already I’ve learnt that CYC is the prefix for the vertical Midget with straight inlet manifold. Every little helps.

All I have to do is keep asking questions and we’ll all learn together. 

Next question is how many of the original Midgets were made? So far the highest engine number I’ve found is just under 36000. Has anyone seen a higher number?

Alan Thu, 25/07/2019

Villiers also produced these Midgets. My example has the serial number - JYG 745.

The carburettor is not original, they were throttled governed.

(The brochure is dated 1933)


wristpin Thu, 25/07/2019

That's a smart little engine with an interesting list of possible applications in the text of the advertisement. Do you know what your’s used to power?

Alan Thu, 25/07/2019

I believe it was used by the New Zealand Railways, possibly to power a rail hack saw.

It had been painted yellow,  the previous owner sand blasted it. 

Now awaiting a complete tear down and rebuild.


Villiers Wed, 31/07/2019

Could I ask you to recheck the engine number please Alan. 

That power unit looks pure Midget (engine number prefix CY) and it makes sense for a version with a governor to have a G added to the engine prefix so you get CYG rather than JYG as you advise. Sometimes these engine numbers are not that well stamped and also get battered around over the years. 

Whatever it is it's a curious little unit isn't it.

Thanks in advance,