Skip to main content
Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

1920 Atco Standard 22" mower

HI Guys & Gals


I,ve only just joined the forum and I,m sorry to say my first post is a question so here goes


Please can some one tell me how to start a 1920 Atco Standard Lawnmower I,ve got the timing set fuel in the tank good spark and tennis elbow from cranking the dam thing


Please help



HenryB Sat, 27/10/2012

What you want to do is, turn on the fuel, tickle the carb using the primer until you see petrol coming out of the carb where the primer button is. Now you want to set it to choke by the lever on the air intake, set the revs quite high to start and crank over fast! If it still doesnt start try using no choke by opening the choke lever, sometimes these old machines don't like choke!

That should sort you out, if not, you will have to have a look at the mixture, but if thats as it should be, theres nothing else to go wrong on an old two stroke like this providing you have enough compression and timing is fine.


Give it a go and let us know how you get on.



wristpin Sat, 27/10/2012

Lack of compression/induction suction may be your problem. Is there a good "lump" when you crank it (presume that you know not to wrap your thumb around the crank handle?) When you turn it over can you hear a good "suck" through the carb inlet?

If ther's no lump or suck try a squirt of oil down the plug hole and see if it makes any difference. If it does it may have stuck/worn rings.

topgunhorse Sun, 28/10/2012

Using nuts, attach a socket (the same size of the flywheel nut)  to a piece of threaded rod.

Then stick it in an electric drill! That'll save you arms.

weldman Fri, 02/11/2012

Thank you for all your help


Compression seems to be fine theres fuel getting to the plug so thats not the problem I think it may be the nut (me) on the crank handle this has a vapour jet carb there are two levers on the handle both going to the carb please can you tell me which is which one must be the throttle the other the choke they are postitioned one above the other on the same mounting bracket




atcocrazy Tue, 06/11/2012


Presumably, the Standard you have is one of the 2 stroke versions, since the four stroke was generally made in 24" and 30" sizes?

Looking at the information, which you have provided, the first thing I would check is that the carb jet is not blocked up. Also, be sure that the crankcase has been drained via the plug, since sometimes when the engine floods, this will prevent it from firing.

You say that the spark is good but I have been fooled in the past, when the spark seemed ok and wasn't. I have known plugs to spark..and it's been a duff plug. The older ones, such as Champion 7 Coms can sometimes be cleaned out or  else replaced with a D16. Many problems are caused by dodgy ht secondary windings, sometimes a duff condenser or dirty points. Do you know what distance before Top Dead Centre the points are breaking. The best setting varies according to the engine. It may be 3/32" or 5/32". You may be aware that the 2 stroke Villiers engines relied on the taper on the crankshaft to lock the flywheel there was no keyway. This means that it's easy to adjust the timing incorrectly! There is usually a mark on the flywheel and crankshaft to line up but I would check the position of the piston through the plug hole and double check.

Of course, it could be something more serious, such as worn rings but a more likely cause is an electrical or fuel fault. The slide inside the carburettor needs to be in a suitable position too; check that it has not jammed.

Hope this helps,


atcocrazy Tue, 06/11/2012


I re-read your message and noted the part about the fuel getting to the plug. However I would still check the jet, that the passage ways for the air and fuel are as they should be. It could be your engine is flooding, drowning the plug or the spark is not as good as you think.


atcocrazy Tue, 06/11/2012

Another thing I just realised, you have the 2 lever carburettor, which is almost certainly a Senspray type, so it will not have the slide I was thinking of like other types do. One lever is for the air control (choke)..and the other is for the throttle. From memory I think the air control is the shorter one. Here is a link to a diagram for one. Follow the cables back from the levers to the carb and you should be able to work it out!


atcocrazy Fri, 09/11/2012

Thanks for that information Keith; I'm sure it will be of help. I do still have a photocopy of the Senspray carb manual somewhere but have mislaid it.



wristpin Sat, 10/11/2012

As Stephen says, on an engine of that age a spark that looks OK may just run out of "energy" under actual working conditions as opposed to just getting one off the end of the HT lead under test conditions. On an old engine such as the one in question it can be an accumulation of things that conspire to loose the spark at the plug gap - weak coil, poor insulation, dodgy condenser, poor condition of the points or even weak flywheel magnetism - although I believe that the latter gets rather too frequently and unfairly blamed.

If the spark and compression are OK, a drop of fuel in the plug hole or the throat of the carb should at least produce an interesting noise or hopefully two or three consecutive noises. Once you get to that stage you can turn your attention to sorting the carb.  It this won't even produce a single *fire* it's back to sparks and compression. On the question of compression it is as well to remember that with a two stroke, suction is as important. Wear related loss of crankcase integrity  - air leaks around the crank bearings, crankcase joints and manifold flanges etc are all bad news !

weldman Wed, 28/11/2012

Hi Guys

Sorry for the delay in replying but had to work always seems to interfere with my hobby but thats life i suppose

Thank you for all for all your help I have the old girl in bits at the moment she seems to need a bit of TLC in other areas but I will be back to the engine very shortly  

In the mean time in the senspray there is a dial in the air intake which you turn one way for more fuel the other for less fuel any Ideas of a good position to start of in please

Sorry for being such a pain but I would just like to see it up and running and have a go at cutting the lawn with it

Thanks again