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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

New member, old mower

Hello everyone.

I came across this place after trawling the internet for information about my first vintage mower purchase, and thought you guy's might like to see it.


Acording to the owners manual, it's an Atco 12" motor mower. Looks to be a Suffolk Colt clone with a slight colour change to suit the re-badge, but I can't seem to find any more information than that online. 

It's a runner, albeit somewhat roughly at the moment due to a thoroughly worn out carb.I've never seen a carb with so much wear and free play before, I'm suprised it runs at all. Rest assured, I am waiting for a replacement to turn up via a certain online auction site!

I'm probably going to leave the condition as is and give it a good clean up, followed by a generous coat of laquer to preserve the patina at some point.

For those that are interested, here's a few more pictures. 






wristpin Wed, 12/04/2017

Welcome to the forum. You are correct about the machine's origins ; Atco, Qualcast, Suffolk models were all the same basic machine sometimes with minor cosmetic changes.

A worn carburettor body and throttle spindle are possibly indicative of poor air filter maintenance but fortunately there are plenty of the Zenith carbs around. 

Oily rag treatment is good for preserving the patina, is easily renewed and doesn't craze with time and create problems of its own as lacquer is prone to do.

hortimech Wed, 12/04/2017

As Wristpin says, the main machine is an Atco, but the handles and fuel tank are from a suffolk. The handles should be in an X shape, with the fuel tank bolted on in the center of the cross, all painted Atco green.

I can remember these being on sale in the late 70s and for a premium, I seem to recall that it cost an extra £30 for the different handles and colour

DickDastardly Wed, 12/04/2017

Thanks for the comments gentlemen.

That's actually a good point about the oily rag. Much simpler and easier to give a wipe over from time to time. Thanks for that. 

I had wondered about the handlebars and tank, as I couldn't match mine up with any pictures I could find online. Not sure why someone would want to swap them out in the first place, as I can't see them getting damaged easily, especially if they commanded that extra premium to begin with. 


An an oil change will be on the cards once I've got it running smoothly. Any recommendations as what to use? The previous owner fitted a new spark plug and pull cord, so that's two jobs less to do at least. It does chuff out a little blue smoke when revved, I'm guessing the rings may be on their way out. Something to look into over winter maybe? 

Oh, as it's from the days of leaded fuel, how do these engines fair with today's petrol? Is it worth dropping a lead substitute in, or running on a high octane petrol? 

Sorry for all the questions, I just wanted to get things done properly first time. 


wristpin Wed, 12/04/2017

Regular unleaded will be fine. A bit of lead substitute, Redex or even a drop of two-stroke wont do any harm but on a low stressed engine such as you have, not essential.

For your oil change use SAE30 detergent oil as sold for mowers and garden machinery. A mono grade oil such as that will control oil burning better than say, a 10/30 or 20/50 multigrade.

DanAcre Sat, 15/04/2017

You could try Anchor wax you can brush it on, leave it or buff it I think it made by bilt hamber tho I might have spelt that wrong :)



DanAcre Sat, 15/04/2017

You could try Anchor wax you can brush it on, leave it or buff it I think it made by bilt hamber tho I might have spelt that wrong :)



DickDastardly Mon, 17/04/2017

Thank's again for the comments everyone.

New/second hand carb turned up and everything is running as it should now. Turns out my rough running was down to a broken fast idle jet. The end had been snapped off by a previous owner and had been filed off so you couldn't tell unless you had another to compare it to. Turning the screw just wouldn't weaken the mixture as the pin wasn't long enough to properly restrict the fuel flow.

Maybe somewhat overkill, but I set the mixture up with my trusty old Gunsons Colourtune kit, a great peice of kit. If you've never seen one, it replaces the spark plug with a transparent equivalent that allows you see into the combustion chamber while the engine is running, and you can then tune the fuel mixture to the correct colour for the optimum burn. It'll be interesting to see how this looks at the end of the season.

I have picked up some SAE30 oil and an oil change is planned for later this week. Found some Ankor wax on a well known online auction site. That stuff isn't cheap is it? I think i'll go with the oily rag option for now, as i'll soon have half a pint or so for free to keep me going for the season! 

Whilst not historically correct, I found some satin black paint I had lying round and have given the handlebars a quick coat. Looks much better than the Suffolk red/orange, and will do until I can drop on the correct bars and tank. It'll all come together in the end, but for now I bought this machine to use, so far so good!

wristpin Mon, 17/04/2017

I actually think that for your purpose the oil rag is a better bet ad Ankor wax is designed for bare metal. Another product that finds favour with the vintage tractor fraternity is Owatrol.

Re Colortune , I've still got one and I believe that they are still made. I expect that you will notice the difference in economy and performance !!!!!!!