Skip to main content
Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

New arrival

Not something that I would go out o my way to acquire, but today I've been given a one owner 1954 14" Atco complete with grass box and transport trolly. I don't intend to keep it but cant not  see if its a runner, but if it has a dud coil I'm not throwing money at it. Access to the mag is restricted by the kick start and chassis etc, so the engine is out and on the bench and already it's apparent that the factory applied timing mark appears to be 180 degrees out - strange.

The previous posts about the Atco annual service / rebuild service show machines being stripped and repainted which possibly accounts for the grass box being in the rather drab period green and the machine being in a brighter shade. Could the N M F stamped on the ID tag be signifying visits to a Service Centre?

Mowing Wurzel Sat, 04/07/2020

The numbers stamped on the identity tag are certainly a question for ATCO aficionados.

I told myself under the current climate not to take on any  new restoration  projects but to no avail.

Adrian Sat, 04/07/2020

That green does look very much like the green on my Standard's engine mounting plates.

Love the transport trolley. It looks very home made!

wristpin Sat, 04/07/2020

Home made, tut tut, that’s a genuine Atco accessory. They were also offered for Webb motor cylinder mowers in the 60s and 70s.

Adrian Sun, 05/07/2020

Every day is a school day! I guess the lighter mower didn't need anything near as sturdy as the trolley for the Standard.

Ransomes-Suffolk Sun, 05/07/2020

I’m intrigued by what NMF might mean. I had a look at the tag on my Atco (and gave it a good clean in case I had missed something) but there is nothing there. I’m sure I remember seeing a video on YouTube where the tag was marked with an “F”, coupled with the fact that the letters on yours aren’t aligned makes me think that they could have been done on three different occasions, maybe suggesting three different services or the replacement/upgrade of particular parts.

The reference shown is 1454. I understood this to be a 14” cylinder machine from 1954. My mower is 1454/5. Does anyone know what the 5 means?

wristpin Mon, 06/07/2020

I don't intend to keep it but cant not  see if its a runner, but if it has a dud coil I'm not throwing money at it. 

It's up and running. With the engine removed from the chassis the stationary factory timing mark was revealed at the bottom of the flywheel back plate (stator plate) and the mark on the flywheel correctly lined up with it at TDC.  Quite why Villiers and Atco positioned them out of sight when the engine is installed in the chassis, is a mystery. I can only think that as it's a universal engine fo various applications it didn't justify a better installation.

To thoroughly check out the ignition it is necessary to remove the flywheel using the built in self extracting feature to break the taper fit.  Well that's the theory, but I can safely say that I've never had to fight with any Villiers as much as with this one. Did all the right things with the right tools, plus a bit of carefully applied heat, but budge it would not. Cup of tea and a consultation with someone who is a bit of a villiers two-stroke specialist brought the "unhelpful" news that he had experienced a couple with a similar issue  - resulting in a wrecked flywheel and / or a damaged mag. Decided to leave it under tension over night but used the interval to make a Mk 2 flywheel holder with a 30" reaction bar to match my 30" breaker bar and single hex impact socket. 

Next morning nothing had changed so I reinstalled the across chassis mounting bars to the engine and clamped it firmly to the bench; It was now **** or bust time. Flywheel holder installed, a  bit more heat on the flywheel centre, and as much welly as I could muster on the long breaker bar. With smallest of pops something gave. I was sure that I would find the centre pulled out of the flywheel or some other carnage , but no, it was free with no collateral damage. 

After that it was plain sailing, much to my surprise, both the coil and condenser checked out OK and the points cleaned up. Flywheel was refitted using the factory timing marks and with a borrowed HT lead; some one had bodged the spring loaded terminal that bears on the coil, a quick flick produced a nice little spark  - result! 

Henno Tue, 07/07/2020

@Angus, I was wondering how the hammer leaning against the shed could have helped....!?  :)

wristpin Tue, 07/07/2020

Angus, I was wondering how the hammer leaning against the shed could have helped....!?  :)

I like the thinking , but no.   Said hammer is what’s known in this part of the world as a maul and is for driving in fence posts etc. Just to confuse things the name maul is also applied to a wide bodied axe used for timber splitting . At my time in life and modest height it’s about all I can do to use it!

Henno Wed, 08/07/2020

Ah yes maul, knew the word but not often used. Another refreshment in my English vocabulary...

Trantm Tue, 14/07/2020

My Atco has this reference plate.  I assumed 4S24 stood for 4 stroke 24" but unlike all other reference plates no mention of a year.  Is this unusual? Engine is a Villiers MK10 so assume early 1960's.


wristpin Tue, 14/07/2020

Just when we thought that the codes were cracked and odd one blows a hole in it!  Later Atcos, Qualcasts and Suffolks used a single alpha character to denote the year of manufacture. Perhaps there was something similar for some earlier machines.