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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Auto Certes but which Mark?

Hi all, new member here. I have recently taken over of my cricket club ground maintenance and found the mower below at the back of an old shed. Eventually I got it started (after reading numerous posts from over the years on here) But it proceeded to dump oil and fuel everywhere, hence an engine rebuild and full carb clean, which is ongoing in my garage. I have been told that it is a bit of a hybrid but I am unsure which parts are wrong (I know the fuel tank is wrong but not sure what it is off and I don't think the on/off switch should be on the handle), I also know the recoil stater is missing (I had to start it with a drill and socket). The engine is a A15 Super Sloper with electronic ignition serial number A15/02/03E/4624 and has the Villiers B10/1 carb with the Air Cleaner Assembly as per the A15 manual. My intention is to restore this beautiful mower back to its original glory and cut the square with it. The serial number plate states AUTO CERTES REGd No F M 01982. Can anyone please point me in the direction of the original Mk and manual please?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Fletch

wristpin Tue, 01/09/2020

There can be various clues such as whether the centrifugal clutch spigot bearing and cutting cylinder bearings are metric or imperial And whether the end of the cutting cylinder where the dog clutch is fitted is threaded or keyed.

Why not try a call to Ransomes quoting the ID plate number that you have ? 01473 270000

However there is always the possibility that the machine may not be “ as built” , so be prepared!

Fletch Tue, 01/09/2020

Wristpin,

Many thanks for the advice, I will check the centrifugal clutch spigot bearing and cutting cylinder bearings as suggested. I thought the A15 had the on/off switch on the side of the engine cowling, not on the handle like this one, there is a hole for it in the cowling. To your knowledge, was this change a standard modification or (as I suspect) another potential local hybrid?

Fletch

wristpin Tue, 01/09/2020

Switch position. Don’t know for sure. If the machine has been in commercial use it may well have been equipped with a handle bar switch to comply with safety requirements. Also, if it was offered with the option of a Briggs engine , I think that the handle mounted switch was standard. The operators manual for an AC Mk 3m with a Briggs shows one , but the stapled in supplement for for the optional Villiers  Sloper shows it on the cowling. Just to add to the confusion, a number of engines with the plug shorting stop switch also have have the indentation in the cowling in the toggle switch position. 

It interests me that your images show the centrifugal clutch flywheel still attached to the top shaft and not to the engine. Unless the A15 installation differs from previous Slopers that flywheel is firmly fixed on a tapered crank , plus a centre bolt.  On a Briggs it’s on a parallel shaft with a key and grub screws.

 

 

Fletch Wed, 02/09/2020

Hi Wristpin,

To be able to strip the engine I had to take off the centrifugal clutch flywheel from the tapered crank to get the end plate off the engine, I just placed the centrifugal clutch flywheel back onto the top shaft for safe keeping.

Although I want to restore this mower back to it's original condition, for me it has to be functional as well (so I can enjoy using it!!!). I believe it should look like the pic you posted back in 2017 under Ransomes auto certes help

My simple mind will only cope with one thing at a time so I have split this restoration into 3 categories.

1.  Engine - The piston is loose (about 1/2 mm movement) from in the 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock position and the cylinder has evidence of burnt leaked oil from previous use (probably why it was shoved to the back of the shed), - suspect the Oil control ring needs replacing, the exhaust valve does not seat correctly due to the build up of the burnt oil - I need to lap the valve to get it seated correctly (current gap to the tappet is 12 thou, I think it should be 6.

2.  Carb Villiers B10/1 -  leaks fuel from the air assembly through the gauze in the base - suspect a non functioning float valve, as fuel should not be in that area of the air assembly, or potentially due to no recoil starter (I have to turn it over by a cordless drill) mixed with a lack of compression due to the piston/exhaust valve issue. Someone has previously messed with the carb and not put it back together properly and bits were missing, I have a "box of old carb bits" which I have managed to get the carb complete again.

3.  Finally once we have a consistently running (non leaking) engine then I need to restore the mowing element of the machine, hence I need to work out what mark it was at manufacture, there seems to be a few bolts missing here and there and I am confused by the additional set of engine locating holes outboard of where the engine was fitted, they have the same centre distances as the used ones but the Top shaft would not be long enough to reach the engine if it was located in the outboard holes.

wristpin Wed, 02/09/2020

I suspect that you have a MK3 but an image of the drive end of the cutting cylinder will identify it, as unlike the earlier Mks it will have a keyed shaft.

The multiple engine mounting holes are for the option of a Briggs or Villiers engine.

The Sloper is a pretty tolerant engine and unless yours has a defined wear ridge at the top of the bore I would be inclined to reface, lap and gap the valves and see how it goes . I’m not sure about the availability of rings, either standard or oversize; the person to talk to is Paul Child of Meetens. Another possible source is LS Engineers who have an eBay site.

The original size vertical air cleaner element is no longer available but Meetens do a suitable replacement that requires a small modification to the cover bracket. 

These images are of  Mk3 V  (Villiers)  With  an A10 Sloper 

 

Fletch Wed, 02/09/2020

Wristpin,

Many thanks you are a superstar!! Nice machine (hopefully one day I will get to that standard. I tried Ransomes as suggested and they said they don't have records for pre 2000 serial numbers and put me onto a local dealer, who I can't get through to.

Centrifugal clutch spigot bearing size is I/D 16.90mm, O/D 33.00mm, W 12.00 mm (sorry as a child of the 70s my mind works in metric!!)

I am trying to clear some space in my garage to be able to disassemble the mower to be able to see the drive end of the cutting cylinder, as soon as I have done it I will post the photo's.

I have been disassembling the engine this afternoon, it does have a wear ridge at the top of the bore, I will post some photo's later.

I see the mower in the photo has the same carb arrangement as mine, have you ever had the fuel in the air assembly leaking through the gauze in the base?

hortimech Wed, 02/09/2020

That bearing size doesn't ring a bell with me, are there any letters/numbers on the inner or outer race ?

wristpin Wed, 02/09/2020

OK, looks like it’s a metric machine

The self aligning bearings in the clutch spigot and cutting cylinder will probably be 1203  **but are you sure about the 33mm outer?

17mm x 40mm x 12

The imperial machine would have  RL5 bearings

5/8 x 1.9/16 x 7/16 approx  mm 15.88 x 39.6 x 11.11 

The Mk 3 was made in both imperial spec and later in metric spec so it’s now up to the end of the cylinder to supply the next clue.

** Edit

 

E&OE !!!!

Fletch Thu, 03/09/2020

Wristpin,

Once again you were right the O/D is 40.00mm

The end of the cutting cylinder does have a keyed shaft, see photo's below.

I now have another problem though, I can't get the roller out. I guess to remove the rolloer you have to remove the roller sprocket and that is where I am stuck. The sprocket seems to be held in by three (I think threaded) fasteners all along the roller shaft. Any ideas?

wristpin Thu, 03/09/2020

Well, a degree of progress, now the roller !  The sprocket is screwed on (left hand thread) and can be very tight. The main issue is holding the shaft while trying to free the sprocket. The opposite end of the shaft has a slot in it, hopefully not already chewed up by previous attempts.  I’m usually working single handed so I’ve made an attachment to engage the slot that bolts to the side of the chassis using the three threaded holes in the bearing housing.  That way one can concentrate on the sprocket.

Best to leave the handle bars attached to the chassis so that when the mower is tipped back they act as a reaction to the considerable force that may be needed to turn the sprocket. The choice for turning the sprocket is either a heavy duty chain wrench or, my choice, a 30” bar with two protruding bolts to snugly engage the sprocket teeth 180 degrees apart .

The images of my holding tool are on the PC and I’ll post them in a mo. Actually got a sprocket removal to do on an eighteen inch Marquis tomorrow.

 

 

hortimech Fri, 04/09/2020

Hi Wristpin, it is an Auto-certes, not a Marquis. Someone has chopped off the 'ankle-breaking' axle extensions, so there will not be a slot in the rear axle. We used to use an old centre out of a transport wheel welded to a long bar to hold the axle whilst undoing the very tight nuts on the axle.

 

wristpin Fri, 04/09/2020

Sorry, very senior moment , have Marquises on the brain at the moment!

For Auto Certes I’ve just got two long old school agricultural ring spanners that must date back to the 50s .

 

Fletch Fri, 04/09/2020

Wristpin,

Some great ideas, thanks, I will definitely knock up the sprocket tool. However I don't think I am at that stage yet. There seems to be what I think are 3 circular locking collars threaded on the land roller shaft that are keeping the sprocket on. It is these that I can't get off. The outer one has a slot in it, I guess for some sort of removal tool (see below, and no I didn't put the damage on them it was already there!!). Apologies in advance for the dodgy arrows.

Also the other end of the shaft does not have a slot in it but looks like someone has filed flats on it, so I should be able to get a spanner to hold it.

Fletch Fri, 04/09/2020

Sorry Gents I didn't see you last two replies before posting my last. Am I right though about the "locking collars" holding the sprocket on? Any chance either of you have a manual for this mower so I can actually see how it is put together?

hortimech Fri, 04/09/2020

No, you are wrong, the "locking collars' are actually part of the sprocket and it can be a B****** to remove, you may need heat. The sprocket is just pushed on to the shaft and, in theory, should just pull off, only thing is, 'theory' goes out the window when it comes to that sprocket. In the past, I have had to destroy the sprocket to get it off, I hope it doesn't come to that for you.

Fletch Fri, 04/09/2020

Gents,

Thanks for the help, I have just had another look at the sprocket. It seems that the chain may have been rubbing against what I thought were the collars, hence cutting 2 grooves and my thinking of 3 locking collars. I am going to knock up a removal too ala Wristpin method and see how I get on, hopefully I will have some knuckles left when it eventually comes off.

hortimech Fri, 04/09/2020

Sorry, but it isn't going to work, Wristpin was referring to a Marquis, where the rear roller sprocket is screwed to the roller shaft, an Auto Certes roller sprocket is pushed on, so it needs to be pulled off. If you are lucky, it will come off easily, possibly needing levering from behind. If you are unlucky, you will need to pull it off, though this will entail drilling a couple of holes in the sprocket to take a couple of studs which also go through a strong bar that will push on the roller shaft, I hope you get the idea. If you are really unlucky and even after using a puller and heat, it still doesn't come off, you may have to destroy it to get it off (been there, done that). Whatever you do, do not use a puller on the outside of the sprocket (where the 'teeth' are) unless it is as a last resort, you will bend the sprocket. 

Fletch Fri, 04/09/2020

Hortimech,

Thanks for the advice, yes it is a right B***** to get off. I will try drilling it, it definitely won't just pull off!! Just in case this goes very badly, are the sprockets readily available? As I may have bent it already.

Fletch Fri, 04/09/2020

Gets,

I have heated it until bright red, tried to pull it, no movement to the point I have bent the frame at the other end. This may be a stupid question, but should I undo the 3 bearing bolts behind the sprocket? Also if it comes off how much of the centre should I expect behind the sprocket, does it go into the bearing as it is all rusted up? If anyone has a photo of the land roller sprocket it would be much appreciated.

Fletch Fri, 04/09/2020

Wristpin,

Any chance you could post a photo of "For Auto Certes I’ve just got two long old school agricultural ring spanners that must date back to the 50s" .

Fletch

wristpin Fri, 04/09/2020

two long old school agricultural ring spanners that must date back to the 50s" .

Looks as though you are past that stage as it appears that the extended axles have already been chopped off allowing a normal socket to go over the nuts. 

I’ve  scrapped a couple of A Certes in the not too distant past and I will have a look to see whether I’ve saved a sprocket , but I think it doubtful.

Fletch Sat, 05/09/2020

Wristpin,

Many thanks. I am not sure what nuts you refer to "Looks as though you are past that stage as it appears that the extended axles have already been chopped off allowing a normal socket to go over the nuts"???

hortimech Sat, 05/09/2020

Your machine originally had extensions to the rear roller shaft, these were used for transport wheels, so you could drive the machine to a golf green without damaging the rear roller. Your machine has had these extensions cut off, but if they hadn't been, you would have needed either a very deep socket or ring spanner  to remove the large nut at each end of the shaft.

It sounds like your sprocket is now totally ruined (a common occurrence), you will probably need to cut it off, I used to use a gas axe, but you probably don't have access to one.

Fletch Sat, 05/09/2020

Gents, thanks for the explanation, for a minute there I was worried I had left some "hidden" bolts in and that was why the sprocket won't come off. If you look at the inboard side of the sprocket itself, is it flat i.e. the sprocket would sit flat on the ground or, is there an extension of what I thought was locking collars on the inboard side. I ask as inboard side it very rusty and I cant see any indication of a noticeable break in the shaft that seems to run through the sprocket. I suppose a photo would explain better???

hortimech Sat, 05/09/2020

The sprocket is basically a steel rod bored out to the shaft size, with an internal flat keyway and the sprocket welded to it i.e, it just two parts, the 'tube' and the sprocket.

wristpin Sat, 05/09/2020

Just had a good root around and no sprocket I'm afraid. Unfortunately and uncharacteristically for me I had a bit of a chucking out session a couple of weeks ago and and a lot of stuff went to the scrap man.

Just by way of explanation this is what your roller shaft would have looked like , complete with nut.  A bit late in the day to ask but why are you trying to take the roller out? Are the individual rollers seized on the shaft or are the pawls not engaging? 

You can see from the length of the key just how much of the sprocket boss goes up the shaft.

 

wristpin Sat, 05/09/2020

Theres a sprocket on ebay Not me!!  a seller in Bodmin.

Just so that you know what to expect if / when you get in there 

With the roller vertical clean up the inside of the bearing holder and partially fill the space above the bearing with lubricant, then tap the bearing holder back into the roller to expose the bearing and pull it off.

That will expose a circlip . remove it to allow the bearing holder to be retrieved. Clean up the shaft.

That will expose a clamp. Slacken the pinch bolt and remove . Bolt head 5/8" AF, nut 11/16"AF. Tight and awkward!

Clean up the shaft, lubricate well and lift off the roller . This one has left one of its bushes behind, remove with care.

TOP TIP as they say on a certain car restoration programme. When placing the second roller back over the ratchet drive make sure that the pawls are folded in . If they are not its not too difficult to snap one off .

Enjoy!!

 

 

hortimech Sat, 05/09/2020

The only thing you didn't say Wristpin, make sure the pawls are set in the correct direction when rebuilding the roller, or you could end up just like my first (and only) foreman ( a man when you asked him how to do something, would reply 'best way you can'). He rebuilt a rear roller on an Auto-Certes, put the machine on the floor, started it and tried to drive it away, it just sat there with the ratchets clicking. We fell about laughing (well, he was such a clever b*********)

wristpin Sat, 05/09/2020

Very satisfying for the onlookers!

well at least he said “ best “  and not cheaply !

My old business held the  UK Sales and service franchise for Tufftorq hydrostatic transmissions and in most of their homeowner rider boxes there was one component that could be installed either way round . The box would work perfectly but forward was reverse and reverse forward.  Probably once a month we would get a call from a dealer asking for assistance.

 

Fletch Sat, 05/09/2020

Wristpin/Hortimech

Thank you so much for all this information and help, it is really appreciated. If you are ever in Derby give me a shout I definitely owe you both a pint!! I have been up at the cricket club all day trying to fix the outfield mower (John Deere 900 - Roberine) that the centre deck won't come down. Finally done it and come home. At least I got to watch some cricket in the sun.

I suppose I don't need to remove the land roller, but I don't like to be beaten by anything so that Sprocket is coming off, one way or another, I think I have bent it no anyway so it needs to come off. That is tomorrows mission!! Once its off I can strip the Land roller assembly and go back to the engine rebuild and back to work next week so will only get a couple of hours in the evening to "play" as Mrs F says.

 

Fletch Tue, 27/10/2020

Gents,

One last question. As you know the mower above came without a recoil starter, I have just about finished the restoration and need to know what recoil starter this mower needs. I see the original Villiers one has 3 legs as per this one on Ebay https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Villiers-F12-BSA-Sloper-Recoil-Starter-Fits-…, Villiers Recoil Starter

However I am not sure it will fit my casing, see pic below as it has 4 holes. Would I be right in saying that my mower should have the Siba 4 legged version?

 

wristpin Tue, 27/10/2020

If your engine is an F12 and the cowling has four fixing holes for the recoil unit it possibly had a Siba starter, seen here fitted to an F12 on an Antelope  . The later "three leg "  starter was of Villiers manufacture.

 

My Auto Certes Mk3 with the A10 Sloper has the last generation Villiers  4 leg starter.

 

Certes  Mk3 with the A10 Sloper has the last generation "four leg" starter.

Fletch Tue, 27/10/2020

Wristpin,

Many thanks as we previously found out it is a late Certes Mk3 with a A15 Super Sloper engine, so I guess I need the last generation "four leg" starter as per your lovely machine. Any ideas where I can get one from at a reasonable price?

wristpin Tue, 27/10/2020

You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding that starter as it was also used on the F15 and probably other Villiers of the era.

Out of interest , does your F15 Super Sloper have a Dellorto carburettor and, maybe, a mechanical governor ?

Fletch Wed, 28/10/2020

Wristpin,

No, it has has the Villiers B10/1 carb with the Air Cleaner Assembly as per the A15 manual.

wristpin Wed, 28/10/2020

Interesting; just when I thought that I had a grip on the Sloper timeline.  Have a look at this earlier thread started by ChrisG which shows a MK4 Marquis with an A15 , fitted with a Dellorto carb.

https://www.oldlawnmowerclub.co.uk/forum/history-and-technical/technica…

I have a Villiers sales flyer for the Super Sloper which also shows the Dellorto**. I will scan and add it to this post later.

Edit / correction

The flyer shows a Villiers Junior carb, not a Dellorto!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3n7hs5jsl08frsj/Villiers%20A15%20Super%20Slop…

 

hortimech Thu, 29/10/2020

Wasn't the 'A' series produced just before Norton Villiers fell apart ? Couldn't they just have used whatever they had ?

wristpin Thu, 29/10/2020

Wasn't the 'A' series produced just before Norton Villiers fell apart ? Couldn't they just have used whatever they had ?

Quite possibly, I can think of one or two other cases where manufacturers have used up what they had to hand. It causes a bit of head scratching further down the line, particularly when the manufacturer is no more and the running changes were not documented.

Fletch Thu, 29/10/2020

Gents,

I seem to remember an old post from a couple of years ago about lack of a spark on an Auto Certes and I think one of you guys concluded the same at that time, as they were about to be bought out they were just using up anything laying about. I'll try and find the post later. Auto Certes Help  posts #11, #12 and #13.

My engine serial number is A15/02/03E/4624 with the one from the forum discussion Wristpin linked to A15/02/04E/6137.

What does the 03E/04E denote? E-Electronic Ignition?? But what about the 03/04?

Fletch Fri, 30/10/2020

Wristpin,

Many thanks I was right then. E - Electronic. I am intrigued now though, I work in industries where configuration control is vital. So for my engine, A15/02/03E/4624

A15 - type of engine

02 - ? Model 02 of the range of A15? Are there any 01s or 03s about?

03 - ? Different electronic ignition unit to 02 and 04 or part number change?

E - Electronic

4624 - the specific engine serial number

wristpin Fri, 30/10/2020

I’m not au fait with the Villiers numbering system but they used Wipac electronic ignition units and where as that A15 manual states that it is a capacitive system, the manual for a similarly aged C15 engine says that it has an inductive system. Suffolk engines also use Wipac ignition units and  their use of capacitive and inductive systems is well documented together with the need for system specific flywheels; so It’s possible that your query re the 02, 03 and 04 numbers reflects similar changes. 

If you ever cross paths with a Briggs and Stratton engine you will be pleased to find that their Model, Type and Code Numbers identify the exact build of the engine including the cowling colour, the year and day of manufacture and even the shift or production line that it was made on. Their parts manuals reflect that information to identify the correct part for “your engine”.

hillsider Fri, 30/10/2020

And in the days before everything going online the Briggs and Stratton parts manual was huge and weighed a ton.

Fletch Fri, 30/10/2020

Wristpin,

Many thanks for that, I have acquired another Mk 3 Auto Certes with a Briggs and Stratton engine (initially for spares as it was a non runner, but I had a quick play and its running fine now), so I might have a good look at the engine serial number and do some research this weekend.

wristpin Fri, 30/10/2020

And in the days before everything going online the Briggs and Stratton parts manual was huge and weighed a ton.

6.4kg actually plus a similar red one with all the engine specifications by model and type number. That lot were superceded by 137 micro fiches  - and that was only up to 2012!

 

 

wristpin Fri, 30/10/2020

Many thanks for that, I have acquired another Mk 3 Auto Certes with a Briggs and Stratton engine (initially for spares as it was a non runner, but I had a quick play and its running fine now), so I might have a good look at the engine serial number and do some research this weekend.

Possibly a Mk3M (metric bearings) with a Briggs 3HP 80232-9878-01.

To find the Model Type and Code numbers, remove the air cleaner and look at the vertical face of the engine cowling (blower housing in Briggs speak) partially obscured by the fuel tank. Easier with the housing removed!