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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Maintaining a Silens Messor 8" mower


I am currently taking apart a 8" Silens Messor mower.


Its going quite well at the moment, with all the bolts coming free so far.


I have questions!

Are the washers on the reel damaged, or are they supposed to be that shape? if so, why that shape?

I'm not sure what to do with the Reel - it is the most rusted and pitted part (apart from the roller). Opinions and expereince very welcome on courses of action. I've had some things sandblasted in the past (motorcycle related) and wondered if that would be appropriate? I clearly dont want to ruin the bearing surfaces or the blade edges.

I want to use the mower, and I don't want it too look too restored. I have seen some bright red gloss painted pitted reels in the past, and they do look like an ornament rather than a working mower. What colour would it have been new?

Next - one of the front roller supports has been bodged together in the past. Does anyone know where I might get a replacement? Don't laugh too hard! Just thought I would ask!

That's it for now. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Clive1997 Sun, 02/02/2020


I emailed you direct a couple of days ago as may be able to help?

olcadmin Sat, 08/02/2020

I've been working on something similar myself recently...

Washers: these often get damaged like this when the mower hits a stone or other obstruction. They should be round.

Reel: as you're planning on using the mower the most important thing will be to sharpen the reel and the bottom knife blade. Assuming the edges on the reel are OK then it should be possible and the pitting elsewhere on the blades won't matter. The reel will require sharpening on a proper cutting cylinder grinder and although it's old most repair shops with such a machine should be able to help even if they are a little fazed by its age. The bottom blade will at the very least need a grind too but if your budget runs to it a better solution will be to replace it with a new one. Other members have successfully done this and if you want to order direct with the supplier it's 

Repaint etc: entirely up to you how to proceed but a repaint of the mower will protect it against further corrosion and make it stand out - and it's a lot of fun doing it. Blasting saves time but I've never needed to do that in over 30 years of restoration - instead good old elbow grease and a bit of time is all you need. Personally, I always prime, undercoat and gloss paint but that's more than was on the original machines and could be considered overkill. There are plenty of images of SMs on this site so check out the colour scheme by searching for them - but broadly cutter and inside of rollers red, everything else green.

Spares: it's not the rarest mower so spares from incomplete machines are usually findable. Maybe Clive has already been able to help - he certainly was able when I needed a spare for my one a few months ago. 




wolfram Sat, 08/02/2020

Thanks OLC admin and Clive.

It's all back together now. Remarkable, for an 1896 machine, that all the nuts and bolts were removable and have gone back together nicely. Perhaps it had relatively regular maintenance in the past. 

I went with sandblasting and red powder coat for the reel and sole/delivery plate. I left everything else original (after wire brushing with diesel and regreasing.

I made new rollers from an IKEA rolling pin

I still want some new roller brackets and I have ordered some hickory handles.



Mower1 Sun, 09/02/2020

Hello – I have a similar mower “Leeds & London” 10” having luckily found it just by chance.It’s good to know there is still 100 year plus mowers out there somewhere that need to be rescued.Mine is in a similar condition and I’m just in the process of dismantling, cleaning and removing rust from the nuts and bolts. I was initially going for a sympathetic restoration but due to the total lack of paint a complete restoration is needed.

wolfram Mon, 17/02/2020

Good Luck Mower1

Deisel worked a treat for me on all the bolts.

Be very careful with the sprockets on the reel - the cast iron collars are *very* brittle. Mine were already broken, but I took off another chunk when replacing them on the shaft. Also, the shaft keys are very soft and *will* deform if tapped with a chisel. I added some washers to take up the play evident between the sprocket and the brass bearing, not sure if they came with washers originally. I also added a washer to the end of the sprocket to make up for the broken cast collar. These washers needed to be drilled out the right internal diameter as they are odd sizes.

The IKEA rolling pin was an old one I stole from the kitchen, the new ones they sell have too large a diameter. I have seen the right diameter in small hardware stores for about £6

I haven't had the reel sharpened as advised yet - I'm a bit worried about taking too much material off it, as the bearing is already almost at its lowest travel, If the rain ever stops this year, ill see what sort of cut i'm getting before more tweaking with the reel and bed.

That's my 2p

wolfram Mon, 24/02/2020

Thanks to Clive1997 - my mower is complete with 'new' front roller brackets. Can't wait to cut some grass! Currently it's covered in snow



wolfram Wed, 22/04/2020

Its been a while... but the snow melted and the sun came out. I have tried the mower on my lawn labyrinth and it does a great job.

The only trouble I have had was with the ratchet jumping out of the groove on the inside of the roller. I have fashioned a leather 'sock' for the ratchet so that it stays in the groove. seems to have worked so far.

This is the result.