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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Atco Standard Mk Vl - C project update

Sadly, I am not a proud new owner, my friend has asked if I can restore it. The frame I can do but the engine is a first for me and so any advice and pointers would be very much welcome. 

Just a couple of updated pictures, the weather has delayed further progress, the fuel tank and its brackets are hung out to dry undercover. As for the engine, I decided to Chicken out, I lack the confidence which is not helped by the fact the owner does not want to throw a lot of money at it, I guess he does not share the same passion.   

I must say, the overall framework has been a challenge, its been no picnic getting all the seized parts separated but I am enjoying the experience of working on a bigger Lawnmower.

For many members, I know you would not leave a job half done but I am working on a shoe string and at best, this Atco Standard "Sadly" will be nothing more than a static garden ornament.

Once the top section is fitted, I will post the end result, I need buy the right decals for the fuel tank either from the club or ebay.

Thanks to everyone for their past comments and support.     

Adrian Mon, 22/06/2020

Lordly, is that a pink Lodge C3 spark plug? I suspect it's a long while since that ran last! Looks as though it's seen some abuse, judging by the bend in the cutter, as well as neglect.

OK, you may already know that that's an Atco Standard with a Villiers MkVI-C 147cc engine, launched about 1923, and it looks as though it is all there bar the grassbox (if it's an 18" model, Andrew Grout might still have the one he bought off me?) and toolbox. There's a thread here with some info in, including links to other threads and bits of the site that will help:….

The frame is as easy as it looks - I did mine by taking one side frame off, stripping and repainting that, and then working across the machine transferring bits across to the first frame as I did them. Personally I would deal with the engine, or at least work out whether it is fixable, before you do that, as it's designed to be started by cranking from the clutch shaft and you'll have to find a means of turning it safely if you take it off and set it up on a bench.
Engine-wise, question number one is does it turn? It's a two stroke so no need to worry about oil in the sump, just give it a turn with the crank handle and see if it moves (check the chain isn't rock solid first!). If not... dunno, never unseized one, but someone here will know!
Question 2 is does it have a spark - the thread I linked to, and ones linked from that cover some of that, you will find the magneto and the ignition apparatus all underneath the biscuit-tin cover on the side. There's three (I think) spring clips holding it on, undo those and it pops off to reveal the (in)famous Villiers flywheel magneto. The points are under the circular brass cover you can see through the pokes, and the little clip slides sideways to release the cover so you can adjust them. Again, there's a link in the thread above to more info.
The carburettor and fuel pipe look later - they could have come off almost anything - but a surprising number of new spares are still available from places like Meetens and Evotek Marine (British Seagull outboard motors used Villiers carbs for donkey's years) and the carb is fairly simple, though probably full of crud as I suspect that condensation may have rusted the inside of the tank - it looks as though it's been stored somewhere pretty damp.

Sorry if that's a bit rambling - it's late! However it looks like a nice project, pity it's not your own!


Good luck and keep us all posted!

John.Sutherland Tue, 23/06/2020

Thanks for the feedback Adrian , It has been stored in a corner of the stable, covered in junk and it is pretty grubby, it is now home with me for however long it takes to looking good again.

The chains need to be taken off and soaked in diesel and given a good clean given the current condition and I dare not risk cranking it at this stage, I did warn my friend Chris that it could be nothing more than a garden attraction rather than a working machine, I am discovering problems like a crack in the cast roller amongst other little things.  

I could do with a manual to familiarise my self with the engine parts and gain some much needed knowledge and experience.

The magneto gubbins  under the biscuit tin looks in good condition and the inner lid has a scratched service date August 1999,  it was used up until 2003 and then stored away until now.

I have questions too, 1/ Paint, which is best, Spray or Brush?, I am thinking oil based paint or is there a preferred tried and tested type of base paint alternative?. 

2/ Fuel, No one knows if it was run on leaded or unleaded is there a risk to using unleaded without a conversion? if there is such a thing.

3/ There is a dreaded crack on the cast roller not fully broken, Can this be spot welded?

I will for now concentrate on getting the frame cleaned down for the time being and work my way up to the engine because at this stage, I cannot test it. 

Thanks again,



wristpin Tue, 23/06/2020

A wise move not to try rotating the engine dry. I would suggest taking the plug out an pouring a cup of diesel in and then leaving it for a while. Depends a bit as to where the piston is , it may drain straight down into the crankcase ( which has a little drain plug) or fill the exhaust.  After a bit of the soaking treatment try turning the crank a few degrees in each direction . If that works, add a bit more diesel and increase the amount of back and forth , add a bit more diesel and venture towards a full rotation but if it goes tight don’t force it. Reverse the rotation adding a bit more diesel. Hope fully you are heading towards a complete rotation .

Roller. The roller is made of fairly low quality cast and may have absorbed various impurities over the years . Any welding should be left to a skilled welder - not just a man with a mig. Sometimes brazing is a better bet with cast. It’s normal practice to drill a small hole at the end of the crack to prevent it propagating.

Fuel.  Unleaded fuel is fine and the mix is 16:1.  I believe in using a straight SAE30 in the mix or one of the vintage  mixing oils from the likes of Millers or Morris Lubricants. 

Adrian Tue, 23/06/2020

2003? Whale oil beef hooked, I'd have thought a lot longer! On the other hand, if it's been in use that recently, it may be in better nick internally than it looks. Wristpin's suggestion is sensible - maybe, once you've taken the chains off and taken the spark plug out, gently try to turn it by the fan - with no plug in, it can't bite you, and there's much less leverage than with the crank handle so you won't break anything if it is seized. The drain plug is at the bottom  of the crankcase on one side - I can't remember which, everything else down there has a head/nut on each side so it's easy to work out which it is. Oh, and if it is still free, and you put diesel in, so long as you drain any excess from the crankcase it will just burn off when it eventually starts (I have confidence in you!) - though you may feel like an eco-vandal for a few minutes until the fug clears a bit.

I've never found a manual as such for the engine, but The Villiers Engine by B E Browning covers the early engines, briefly, and also the magneto and carburettor. There's a few copies out there - beware the one on industrial and horticultural engines, I don't know whether it covers this early without actually seeing a copy:…

I managed to replace the coil and condenser in mine, so they are demonstrably idiot proof!

Unleaded wont be an issue as leaded wasn't introduced in the UK (by Pratts, no less, how apt!) until 1926 when they'd been building these things for 3-4 years.

It's 25 years since I did mine, so any advice from me on paint will be well out of date. If you can find some original paint (looks as though that might be quite a task!), see if you can match it - mine was originally a lighter, grassier colour than it ended up painted, though I suspect that "Atco Green" was a bit like War Department Khaki - (a) it depended on what was handy and (b) it probably got a repaint every few services anyway - I know mine had at least three different sets of Atco logos on the tank when I got it. 

There are both manuals and parts lists out there as I have a photocopied one  of each- I bet they came from the club, so maybe have a snout around the website?

olcadmin Tue, 23/06/2020

Parts list and operating manual for the "Standard" are both on the website. Look under "Operating Manuals".

John.Sutherland Tue, 23/06/2020

Thank you

Adrian Sat, 11/07/2020

Sorry to hear that you are not going to get a chance to get it running, but it looks as though you've made a very decent job of the rest - you never know, you may get a chance in the future!