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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Introducing myself and my plan

Hi All,

My name is Andy, I live in Cornwall and I have long been interested in getting an old mower to put back in action. This all dates back to the 1960's when as a family we acquired a  secondhand Suffolk Punch to cut our lawns with. This was the 17" early version with square tank, round cowl and a rope you wound round a pulley to start it with. It was the slightly more upmarket version with the split aluminium rear roller. However it was a real beast to work with as you kicked the clutch in and set off at pace trying to remember to roll back the throttle in time to not massacre the flower beds. The story was that it had been employed previously in cutting the grass round a BBC radio mast. 

Anyway moving on, I do have some professional mowing experience as I was employed in the 1980's by Peterborough Development Corporation Forestry & Landscape department. I was in the chemical gang where we sprayed vast amounts of weedkiller into the local housing estates, planted millions of trees and did pruning and other landscape tasks. However in the summer we also helped to cut the grass particularly around and about the parkways. We used a variety of mowers and were often supported by a tractor driver. For the rough grass, we had flail mowers which were gnarly beasts to control, particularly on the steep embankments. They were also prone to getting entangled with whatever wire was lying about in the grass. Happy days. I also recall riding on one of the big mowers used to cut playing fields and not enjoying it much due to the amount of dog poo flying past my ear. Driving a tractor was quite fun though.

However in the present day, I have just acquired a Qualcast Commodore to restore. It's an early 60's model with cone clutch which although it has a nice 'patina' aka rust is in complete condition and doesn't look too badly abused. The grass box is also present and in good nick. It's a non-runner at present and that is where I will need the help initially. I have already made some progress, but more on that in the technical section where I will put a more specific post. I will also add a picture, but as I am at work presently, it is not currently possible. The plan in brief is to get it running, then decide whether to do a full resto or not. Oh, and cut grass with it! I'm also hoping at some point to inherit my father's  newer Atco when he eventually passes away.

Thanks for reading this long tract



wristpin Tue, 10/09/2019

Welcome to the Club. The Qualcast Commodore was a good machine both in build quality and in use; so well worth doing a mechanical overhaul but to paint or not to paint is purely a matter of personal preference and depends on where you start from.  However bear in mind that a machine is only original once and any restoration destroys that originality for ever. To strip and repaint a machine that still has most of its original paint intact is, in my opinion, an act of vandalism.  Even a working rusty  relic given the oily rag treatment has a charm of its own and is of far greater value than a tarted up parody of the original. 

Buryan Wed, 11/09/2019

Hi Andy - and welcome!

Whereabouts in Cornwall - I am near St. Just-in-Penwith!

Best wishes,  Kenneth.

Andy B Fri, 13/09/2019

Hi Kenneth,

That's the same name as my Dad!

I live near St Austell, so a fair way away from you.



Buryan Wed, 18/09/2019

Hi Andy - well, well!  It's a generational thing - I'm 65!  Like Archibald - popular in Victorian England but not a great hit presently!! 

P.S. I'm rather glad I'm NOT Kenneth, your Dad - you're after his ATCO - is he SAFE - lol.

Andy B Tue, 24/09/2019

My father is now 89 and sadly has not enough strength to use his ATCO, so is reduced to an elderly Flymo. I'm sure he would rather me have his treasured lawnmower rather than some flyboy and my brother doesn't have a lawn to mow.