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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Atco Standard - model??

Just pulled this Atco from the back of the retirement project shed and notice that it is a little different from the majority of Standards that appear on the various forums. The fuel tank is mounted transversly and not longitudinally and it has no fan. No doubt someone will tell me what it is!

Having removed several coats of hand brushed green paint of varying shades from the fuel tank some original Atco signing has appeared.



hillsider Wed, 22/05/2013 Follow this link to the mower profiles area of this site and I think you will find the answer to your question. From what is stated I think you probably have a model HY. How did you manage to remove the old paint without damaging the original transfer? Reason for asking is that I have a Gordon hand mower in its original colours except for the grassbox that has been painted over including the original transfer, which looks fairly complete underneath the green paint.  Ray.

wristpin Wed, 22/05/2013

Thanks Ray, certainly looks similar although the text only mentions 12" and I should have said that mine has a 14" nine bladed cylinder.

As for revealing the original Atco signing, pure luck! As I was not expecting anything like that I was using brute force and ignorance to remove several hand daubed coats of claggy green paint - the wire brush on the bench grinder! - when I became aware of something there and used a bit more care to remove as much as the green as possible.

As you are aware I am not a lover of "better than original recreations"  - I use the word recreation  to distinguish the better than new from  restoration - return to original ex-factory  condition. The next step back being preservation of the machine in its current condition. Being an ex-tractor man yourself you will be aware that a lot of the factory finishes on machinery of the era was pretty basic both in paint quality and application - no coats of high build primer followed by coats of automotive quality two-pack!

Judging by the layers of paint where they still existed, this particular machine had been given several pretty basic "restorations" in the past and was, in my opinion, past meaningful preservation so unusually for me was heading for a bare metal repaint - hence the attack on the tank! Had that sign writing not been painted over I may have taken a different approach. Having said that, anyone who has studied Atco's owner hand books will know that in years gone by their winter overhaul service included a repaint,  but as the pictures that I have show chassis hung from a monorail emerging from a caustic stripping bath my guess is that the several layers are the result of either dealer or owner attention!

Anyway, back to the present - remembering that the chassis and cylinder etc will/have been repainted in what I believe is the correct factory finish, do it repaint the tank and apply new transfers or clean it up and preserve with a coat of clear? As nice as that would be I think it would look a little odd.

hillsider Wed, 22/05/2013

Hello Angus, checking my copy of the OLC Lawnmower Directory it describes the model HY as `A slightly scaled down version of the Atco Standard, available in 12 and 14 inch cutting width, made in the late 1920s and early 1930s'  so that neatly resolves the identity of your mower I think. Re the to paint or not to paint conundrum I am of the opinion that if a large proportion of the original paint is present then a wipe with oily rag will keep the machine looking good. However in a machine that is largly rust covered or has been covered in many layers of poorly applied paint then a bare metal restoration is justified. I agree with you that there is no value in trying to produce a paint finish that exceeds the gloss of the standard paint finish than would have been on the machine when new. Although by their very nature modern paints generally seem to produce a fairly high gloss finish.  Looking at the tank transfer that you have uncovered it seems that the letters are white whereas the transfers available here have gold lettering, is this a trick of the light or has the wire wheel taken off the gold?  Ray.Re R 

wristpin Thu, 23/05/2013

Definitely looking white now but wonder if this was the base for a "gold" finish that has disappeared either stuck to the underside of next layer of green or been dissolved by whatever solvent was present in that layer. Don't think that we will ever know unless someone knows what the composition was of the transfers used in production or whether the lettering of the the day was indeed white!

Did a bit of cleaning up of the roller this evening and the black paint applied to the ends was thick and crusty   - almost a bitumastic consistency!. As for the chassis, there was plenty of paint but none of it original!

olcadmin Thu, 23/05/2013


Great image. Assume you mean the mower has a nice row of tools, not the woman...

olcadmin Thu, 23/05/2013


I've seen this on a number of mowers over the years. Probably what's left is the original base layer from the original transfer. Sometimes (I suspect not in this case) the transfer can protect the underlying metal from corrosion so all that's left is really an echo of the original.

Even today we sometimes find that an initial white "undercoat" layer on the transfer design is needed to prevent the paint from showing through. This even applies to our current stick-on ranges.

Incidentally, as you might know, the club produces this design (and indeed all designs for the Standard):


wristpin Fri, 24/05/2013

The OLC profile says that my HY was made between 1929 and and 1933 "or there abouts" . Quite happy with that until I unpacked my parcel of mag parts from George at Villiers Parts this morning and started the mag rebuild. There on the side of the round points and condenser housing is what appears to be a date - 1937. A bit far out for "1933 or there abouts" - or is it a part number?


Keith Wootton Fri, 24/05/2013

Actually, the more important number here is the 21 at the end as that, I believe, signifies the date of the patent.

The date range for the HY model on our profiles is reasonably accurate as far as I know (I wrote it by the way). By the middle 30s Atco had left the Atco Standard and HY designs far behind and were producing models that looked more like the range they continued with until the late 50s.

wristpin Fri, 24/05/2013

Thanks - no slight intended! So does that mean that the patent on the contact breaker box was 1921?