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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

JP Minor MK2 - New to mowers

Hi all,

I have recently purchased a JP Minor MK2 apparently from 1961. 

I sought after such a mower as I have a small garden which is a little tricky to get electricity to and I wanted something that I could learn about and be able to maintain myself. After a bit of research it was clear that the old ones appear to be built much better and I quite like the whole heritage angle.

At first I was interested in a mower like the Qualcast model E and Ransome Ace as I'm pretty sure my grandad used one of that design and from appearances I figured they looked simpler to maintain. Unfortunately I was outbid (on ebay) for these 2 and have been unable to find any others locally. Sadly the majority of these manual push mowers appear to be up north. 
Then I discovered this JP minor on the marketplace app Shpock for only £30 and it was only 10 minutes from me. So earlier today I picked it up. The collection box has been long lost.

My first impressions are good, it runs very easily and 'appears' to be in good working order. The paintwork is a little dull and there are a few patches of light rust and grime. I have not given it a clean yet.

So a few questions.

1. Are there any basic things that I should do to before using it?

2.  How easy are these systems to understand? 

I would appreciate your feedback and guidance.

jp minor

Messorestore Thu, 29/04/2021

Hi, what an excellent choice of push mower - JP ( known as the Rolls Royce of mowers) especially the minor MK2. I have a minor MK2 and find it quite light, very good quality and cuts extremely well. Personally all I would do with yours is give it a sympathetic clean and make sure the blades are nice and sharp and the base plate in good condition. In no way does this need any restoring. I would oil the rusty patches with new engine oil mixed with equal part diesel to make it stick. Infact you could do this lightly over the whole mower to check moisture and rust without knackering the paint. I note you say you don't have a box. I might be able to help there as I believe somewhere I have a spare. If you contact me off forum I'll try and sort something out. So refreshing to see a good quality push mower being discussed, Thankyou. 

Will Thu, 29/04/2021

Not much to these mowers really, the cylinder looks to be reasonably sharp, which is a good start. Do you know about setting the cylinder to bottom blade?

You won't be able to cut long grass with it. Mowers like this are only for short grass, 'to make short grass shorter'. Apologies if I'm saying what you already know.


JackClap Thu, 29/04/2021

Hi and welcome to the forum.

A good purchase, I similarly am fairly new to old mowers and have also just picked one of these up. 

As already mentioned to get the best out of it make sure the blades are sharp and adjusted correctly. To test this you can do a 'paper test' where you try cutting a piece of paper at multiple points along the blade. This will give you can idea of sharp it is and whether it is cutting evenly or needs adjusting. If you feel it needs sharpening, you can try 'backlapping' (running a gritty paste between the blades) or if its really bad can be professionally sharpened. 

Also just make sure any moving parts are well oiled to prolong the life of it and keep it moving smoothly.

This link should take you to a page on the website about the JP minor mk2. From there you can then click on a couple of instruction documents which should be useful in understanding how to operate the mower and how its put together.

Antbr123 Fri, 30/04/2021

Hi OliverH and welcome to the club.

I am a speciallist collector of just JP mowers and can guide you on the maintenance and history of this mower.  I have restored many. Looking at it quickly, it is an early 1960s or even later 1950;s model denoted by the round John Bull hand grips and the black knob. Let me know the serial number and I can date it accurately to month and year. Grass boxes do come up on ebay every now and then  - so patience.  I will have a look to see if I have a spare even.

In terms of things to look at before using.  It is imperative that you do not try to pull back the black know without loosening off both the side nut and screws on the tie bar.  You will break the stem of the black knob.  If the black knob does not move it means that the top tie bar is rusted into the eccentric tube and will require a strip down to free it off.  It should be an interference fit, but the tie bar needs to be greased inside the eccentric tube. If the knob does not move, it means the cylinder blades cannot be lowered onto the bottom blade. The black knob itself is irreplaceable. All threads on JP Minors were imperial BSF.

Take off the chain cover and check for any stretch in the drive chains.  Over time the chains can stretch and need to be tensioned properly, otherwise the drive sprockets can lock up if the chasin is too loose.

Oil inside the front rollers....these can be taken off easily and should be separated by washers. Apply linseed oil to the wooden rollers.

Take off bearing covers and check condition of any grease in the may have hardened over time.  Oil liberally and replace covers.

Check the bottom blade for any chips out of it.  It can be replaced from a company called Garfitts, but the retaining blade screws can be difficult to remove without applying considerable heat

If you need additional advice, I can guide you on restoration tips, if you would like to contact me. Contact details are in the club members list.

I would like to recommend and suggest that you cut your grass with a rotary mower before attempting to use this mower on the grass as it was not designed to cut long grass and you will struggle considerably.  The grass will clog up the mower.

OliverH Wed, 05/05/2021

Hi all,

Thanks very much for the warm welcome and all your comments. 

So firstly I have given it a light clean and tested the blade with paper. I am very happy to say it sliced through the paper with ease all along the blade and it appears to have no dents. 

The black knob doesn't move, but it does unscrew. I won't mess around with that too much without fully working out what to do. 

The handle on the front which I belive adjusts the wooden rollers doesn't move either. I'll try some more WD-40 on it. I have some linseed oil ready to go, I did notice washers at either end of the rollers, should these be in-between? 

I have looked under the chain cover. The chains do appear to have stretched a little over time, I'm doubtful if they have 1 link extra each though, but all is well greased. The bearings under the cutter sprocket look like they could use some lubrication. 

The serial numbers are 2A/A/XM.175 

Are there any particular oils that I should be using? Multipurpose 3in1, bike oil? What sort of grease? Teflon? I read in the manual to use medium grade oil, not quite sure what this.

Antbr123 Wed, 05/05/2021

2A/A XM 175 means it was manufactured in Jan 1953.  XM denotes it is an 11" Minor and 175 means it was mower number 175 manufactured in the month of January.

If the black knob does not move, do NOT force it.  You may either crack the bakelite knob of shear the stem from the tie bar.  The purpose of the knob is to lower the blades up and down into close contact with the bottom blade. If this is stuck, then in all likely hood the inner tie bar inside the eccentric tube is rusted and will require a complete strip down to free it off.  It is possible, but requires patience.  Ensure the grub screw (1/4" BSF) thread is also removed and it may be possible to get WD-40 down the thread hole...but I have found that this is not always successful. Aside from a strip-down there is no other way of freeing off this rotating tie-bar, if you want to be able to move the blades up and down.

Normal practice is to free off the blades after mowing and during storage and to lower them down to the bottom blade just before mowing. It allow also for cleaning of the blades.