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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

hayter ambassador 20 bowling edition... what to do with it?

Hey folks.

well, it's quiet here... for the moment. my ransomes auto certes finally has a home with a decent and caring owner with plenty of experience with ransomes machines.

A few days back, I took on a hayter ambassador 20 cylinder mower. When I was given info about it, all the original specs were incorrect, but surprise of surprises, it's a fine finish mower. built in the late 70's with the roller clutch lever to the handle frame and the cylinder clutch control on the deck (which surprises me considering the standard models featured dual controls + throttle on the handle bar).

Overall condition is this:

cutting cylinder 20" 10 blade. left side end fins before the starting plate of the cylinder plate have incurred serious damage from a stone. this means 7 out of 10 blades have various degrees of damage to the first inch of metal before the main cylinder that's going to be remedied very easily.

Roller clutch and drive seized to death. needs to be stripped down and serviced ready to run.

original briggs 3.5hp engine fitted with large fuel tank as it's a professional model. which starts well. needs a full service though as it's been abandoned for a time.

It arrived without the grass box and the side plate to shield the drive mechanisms. so I'm getting back in touch with the guy who says he has the parts in the hope of collecting today.

Providing I'm able to strip down the clutch assembly, clean it, grease it up, strip the roller drive down and service it, I'm thinking of doing an interesting upgrade to the machine.

the original handle setup is just a straight 1 piece handle affair which is impractical and uncomfortable, besides a pain in the neck to load in to a car to transport without unbolting the entire setup. So... I'm going to make a new handle set up with aluminium to a more modern, easy steer handle. I might even upgrade the control to the throttle foe more user comfort. hmmmmm.

The other argument I'm having is... do I use the old decals and have them remade or do I use the newer official hayter decals to make it a little more attractive. This by the way isn't a restoration job. this is an upgrade job and service before I decide on what it's going to do.

If the original box isn't found, I'll be making a drop mount grass box arm like you'd find on certain dennis, allet, atco and webb machines, so that the grass box sits comfortably in place and is easy to lift.

So far, the front solid roller has been cleaned, spun and polished, the cylinder cleaned, adjusted and assessed for further damage, bed knife assembly removed (note: knife had been replaced after incident, so there's a newer knife on but has been hot punched instead of screw fitted. unless the entire assembly including the steel backer replaced. hmmm)

I might go completely insane in the rebuild and do something a bit daring and I'm feeling that way... wait and see.... it's going to be FUN!


wristpin Mon, 17/09/2012

Presume that you have an Ambassador Professional but am a bit puzzled by your reference to a seized clutch as no pre OPC Ambassador that I have seen has a clutch as such but used belt tension to make and break the drive - hand lever on lh chassis side plate for the cylinder and a lever on the handle bar for the landroll. Also your comment about the rigid handle bar doesn't ring true. The pre OPC mk 2 Ambassadors had an inverted U coming up from the chassis onto which the main handlebars were clamped. By slackening the clamp the top section folded over for transport.

Cylinder damage was not uncommon on both domestic and pro Ambassadors. I think that the blades were rather too hard and brittle and chipped off rather than bent. Also the cylinder width was very close to the total machine width meaning that it was easy to get too close to a path or obstruction and damage the blade ends. 

redfernmowers Mon, 17/09/2012

the spec I have from a contact at hayter is an ambassador 20 series 2. the handle is just a 1 piece model with roller clutch cable and throttle only. Managed to do some further work on fine tuning this engine. one or two last minute things to do.

the primary fault is the seized roller drive. when pushed, the clutch pin clicks in forward motion like the older atco 2 stroke series. when pulled back, the roller is stiff but will rotate slowly. the roller will not engage as there's no transmission from roller shaft to chain, sprockets and primary drive flywheel to the pulleys. so this is going under the knife for a full strip down. it's most likely taken a shunt and in doing so, shocked the bearings. so it's time to take the roller assembly and drive assembly out.

Anyway, providing I acquire the grass box and plate from this guy this week, I reckon she'll be ready for a home in a week. arguing with myself over whether to do a full paint works..... hmmm.

The handle I'll be replacing with will be one of my tailored ergo handles I design by hand with a rather nice REMS Curvo power bender. it's the one tool I love completely as it allows me to make custom parts like box supports, toe protectors, handles, carry handle systems, etc.

let's see how I get on here. I reckon a good day's stripping down should do the trick. planning on removing the engine to respray it for a better finish.


wristpin Wed, 19/09/2012

Think that you will find that the drive sprocket is keyed to the roller shaft which has a carrier fixed to its centre between the roller halves. The carrier carries  spring loaded pawls that engage with internal teeth in each roller. loss of drive is usually caused by either the springs breaking or the pawls seizing on their pivots.

Any chance of posting an image or two of the machine?

redfernmowers Wed, 19/09/2012

an update with good news.

the rear drive is now runnning smooth. had a chance to strip down the roller rig, etc. all internal  springs, pawls, etc are fine, a bit of rust so cleaned with the acid bath. rollers cleaned and polished, bearings lubricated, etc. the main fault was a dead chain. it had rusted out too much and set. so after 6 attempts the chain now runs free. what I decided  to do was imerse the chain in oil and heat it up a few times. it freed it up, then soaking in greese. after that, was a simple case of manipulation of joints, a test and the drive chain is fine. the other problem was a seized alu flywheel to sprocket. the bearing was dry as hell so was soaked, cleaned, bearing grease in and some emery paper to clean the shaft of rust. now when starting, the roller runs like a dream.

all that's left to do on this is a bloomin good clean up, a paint job and get the cylinder serviced. having assessed the cylinder further, 2 of the blades have suffered a little more damage than the rest in terms of extended damage beyond the shoulders by about 3/4 in by a depth of about 4mm or so. the rest of the cylinder is in good health but could do with grinding / honing. have done a 2 coat super coarse hone and it seems to do a reasonable job. will get the rest of the honing done today.

will pop in this morning to take measurements for the new handle design and then start the forming process to create a 2 piece folding handle rig with my ERGO  handle design for comfortable steering. have to collect the grass box and guard today from the guy I acquired the machine from.

Re GAS equipment I mentioned earlier. sale cancelled after the guy attempted to sell me illegal BOC tanks. so he's been advised of his legal  rights on that matter.

sorry I don't post photos much, if at all. I rely on my mum to deal with that side of things but as she's recovering from serious illness, it's best her not being in the workshop.


wristpin Wed, 19/09/2012

Ed raises an interesting point about the number of "dodgy" oxygen and acetylene cylinders that there are around. For those who have never been involved have, until recently, only been two suppliers of dissolved acetylene (DA) - British Oxygen (BOC) and Air Products. They have both operated a system where by the user pays an annual rental charge for the cylinders, a transaction charge for swapping over empty for full cylinders plus a charge for the gas itself  + vat! - and this for approved accounts only! 

This has made it prohibitively expensive for the occasional or hobby user to have this useful facility  for welding, heating and cutting. The consequence of this is that there are an awful lot of "borrowed" cylinders out there being exchanged and filled on "mate's" accounts etc.

When I was in business we had two set of oxy/DA equipment, plus spare cylinders and every so often a guy from BOC would come round for a check up and a count up  - expensive but legal!

NOW THE GOOD NEWS - at a price!

There is now a company who will sell you cylinders  for a one off payment of £340+vat  and only charge for the gas when swapping them over see

So if you can justify a one off payment for the cylinders you can now have the facility legally! Not cheap but a lot cheaper and less hassle than dealing with the big players.

redfernmowers Wed, 19/09/2012

angus raises a good point here.

The Albee gas system is a good product, however, in the case of oxygen and acetylene tanks, these will only last a few hours max usage if welding or cutting due to the volumes of the tanks. in my case I can go through one of those small sets in a day. by the time I've paid refills, vat and carriage charges, these are still a little on the pricy side. I have a supplier who can do the full 5ft tanks legally at £400 inc VAT as full purchases. so will be doing that soon. It's a company I trust as I have used them in the past for Argon full tanks, etc. 

BOC, who aren't british anymore, they're american), Air products and Air Liquide (albee gases are part of air liquide) are the three major players here and pretty much on the same pricing schedules and offering different size tanks for different projects.

I'll be ordering a new OXY acet system through BOC (BOC PROMaster kit) near christmas and getting my tanks through my supplier. so best of both worlds.

there's only so much a mapp gas torch can do. for the rest. acetylene's the way forward or in certain aspects if you want to be a bit cheaper / safer.. oxy propane but the temperature range is lower and not good for welding certain metals.

anyway, today's another day. being messed around by the guy regarding the panel and grass box. I may as well just fetch some mild steel and fabricate from scratch.


wristpin Wed, 19/09/2012

Even in my old workshop where we would be putting through 40 to 50 machines a week we would only be changing our full size Oxy and DA cylinders every 3 months and the Mig argon mix a bit more often!

Even taking into consideration that we were mainly working on  newish machines, so perhaps our consumption for cutting and heating was more moderate, it still seems an awful lot of gas for one man to use - not sniffing it are you?!


redfernmowers Wed, 19/09/2012

lol good god no.

My dad was an engineer and always used the cougar tanks (5ft+) and for the steel he was cutting and welding, as well as on site performing demolitions and strip outs in the HVAC world, he went through them like anything and had a BOC account. he's no longer with us anyway.

For me, the 5ft tanks make a difference, especially when it comes to custom parts and manufacturing. not just parts for vintage mowers but I'm working on my own designs as well to beet the daylights out of today's rubbish. So, Oxy Acet really does help. OK november sees the arrival of my very late birthday presents. a brand new Multi process Mig, Tig and arc unit and a plasma cutting unit for cutting sheet metals etc. so that grass boxes can be made to order as a service to OLC users as well as other customers.

I'll be ordering a tank of argon and a tank of argoshield lite (alternative name through my supplier)

On the hayter front. I've just done an engine strip down, though it runs OK, I've done a full overhaul including full compression setting, ignition, etc. the initial service I performed was  just to have her running and assess performance. so now the engine's dismantled. fuel tank fully sterilised, cowling and tank as well as filter are resprayed black. OK mad as it is but it's what I have left in coatings. the main engine will be resprayed engine silver. the main chassis will receive a touch up, etc and then the new custom handle. Tomorrow's hopefully grass box day.