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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

A brace of Ransomes Marquis - Restoration

The finish line was in sight for my Atco / Suffolk Super Colt and I wanted to get something lined up for my next project. I spotted a Ransomes Marquis 18" non runner due to no spark (here we go again!), and when I went to look at it, the chap also had a running Marquis which was a slightly newer model, but had a fuel leak at the carb. Needless to say I ended up getting them both in the back of the car, with assistance!, and brought them home. 

I'm not going to go to the lengths I went to with the Atco - as good a learning experience as that was, I now want to keep the mowers cosmetically as they are, bar a couple of little touch ups here and there, but overhaul them mechanically to get them both running well. Hopefully I can use one of them as my regular mower as the 18" cut will hopefully make things easier around the garden, and I do like the look of these mowers. 

I would like to get an idea of manufacture date for both, and one should be easier as it has the plate on the side which says Mk4, but they both have the same BSA marked F12 Sloper engine

Mower 1 - Ransomes Marquis 18" Mk4 - Reg No. DC 398

No numbers on the exhaust side of the block like the other mower, however the sump drain plug side has the following - RS 119 B 1979 K


Mower 2 - Ransomes Marquis 18" Mk??- No ID Plate


RedLeader Mon, 20/07/2020

I asked the question to Paul at Meetens and he kindly advised the following: 

The Mk4 Marquis with engine marked BSA RS119  is an early model - Late 1950's to Early 1960's

The other mower with engine marked F12-02-01 is Mid 1960's to 1970. So providing the engines on both are the originals that came on the mowers, that gives me a good idea of approx age. 

Can anyone confirm if the 'newer' of the two is a Mk4A? From what I can see online the cylinder height adjuster changed to this style with the Mk4A? Should both have the black plastic telescopic clutch shaft cover? Also the ignition cut out seems to be some sort of modification on the Mk4, as its held into the engine cowl by a big rusty self tapper??

wristpin Mon, 20/07/2020

The ignition cut out should be held by the lower of the two exposed head bolts but by the looks of yours   that has been replaced by a stud sans nut; probably because the thread in the block has been stripped and someone has found some good metal further in for the longer stud to grip. The thread is Whitworth / UNC and there’s a long Briggs head bolt that will usually do the job . Really all the guy had to do was to put the cutout over the stud and fit a washer and nut. The stud left exposed with no nut isn’t clamping the head  on that corner.

hortimech Mon, 20/07/2020

As Wristpin says, the cut out should be retained by the head bolt, or in your case the nut you removed, but more importantly, the carb stay is missing.

I was told that the plastic guard on the clutch shaft was fitted after someone had an accident in the mid sixties, so your earlier one wouldn't have one from new.

Ransomes-Suffolk Mon, 20/07/2020

Two very nice machines. I have a Mk4a and find the engine is very smooth and quiet. The mowers have a real feeling of quality about them. Nice to work on too but heavy when it comes to lifting them on to the bench for repair!

RedLeader Tue, 21/07/2020

Thanks very much all. They really do seem like good quality solid mowers, and lifting them in and out of the boot of the Ford Focus certainly gave my back a good test :)

Although a different beast to the Atco, I feel much more confident to tackle things now, based on everything that I've gone through with that mower! Really looking forward to getting stuck into these 2.

Thanks Hortimech and Angus - that explains about the telescopic guard and the ignition stop 'modification'.

The two ignition stops are slightly different - one says 'PRESS TO STOP' and has a brass pivot and operates 'correctly' with the spring, however the other one is plain, and it's arc of motion doesn't cause the spring to stretch and provide any resistance? Is one from a different mower perhaps?

As for the missing air filter bracket, I've had one made up using the existing one as a template

RedLeader Fri, 24/07/2020

After trawling all the pictures I can find on the internet of Marquis mowers, I believe the ignition kill switch with the 'Press to STOP' engraved on the lever is the correct one for these mowers. I'm sure i've seen the plain one on a different mower at some point but can't quite place it.....

wristpin Fri, 24/07/2020

After trawling all the pictures I can find on the internet of Marquis mowers, I believe the ignition kill switch with the 'Press to STOP' engraved on the lever is the correct one for these mowers. I'm sure i've seen the plain one on a different mower at some point but can't quite place it.....

Both are correct, just a time thing. Don’t loose sleep over it !

RedLeader Sun, 26/07/2020

Thanks Angus, I'd seen the plain one on a super colt before, so they must have stolen it from a Marquis in that case :) Just needs straightening out a little to get the spring to work correctly.

A few pics form the carb strip down - doing both carbs at the same time as they are the same model, new fibre washers, float needles, needle seating, main jets etc replacing the items that have been attacked/mauled previously...

Everything went through the US cleaning tank

Just trying to get hold of a replacement small felt washer like the one above then I will have both carbs completed

Throttle valves will be getting stripped and overhauled next - springs are a little rusty and cabled feel a bit stiff

Also investigating what seems to be an incorrect engine breather on the Mk4a

This has been hacked around quick roughly to make it 'fit' - and looks quite different to the one on the other engine


wristpin Sun, 26/07/2020

Never seen a breather like that on a Sloper and would venture that it’s a total bodge. Does raise the question as to why it was necessary as the correct one is fairly robust. The result of some traumatic incident perhaps.

RedLeader Mon, 27/07/2020

It certainly looks like someone got 'creative' with a breather from a different engine, which uses the same breather body, so possibly another BSA/Villiers engine? It has a ball bearing and retaining clip in it

and has been hacked to have a straight edge down one side to sit up against the engine cover

Compared with the correct breather on the other engine

I've seen the same/similar breather on an engine online, an Atco of some sort with a villiers engine

Correct breathers for the sloper engine are available, so I've got hold of the parts to swap this out for the correct setup. I can only imagine the original must have gone astray at some point in it's life, and this one was lying in the spares bucket so was made to 'fit'. New breather top and small plastic top hat inset

wristpin Mon, 27/07/2020

That pepper pot breather was common on various Villiers engines such as the Mk 7, 10 and 12.

Back to the correct one, make sure that the push in top is a snug fit and if necessary, centre pop the three raised bits to create some friction, otherwise at some inconvenient time it will blow out together with the plastic valve - never to be seen again. 

RedLeader Mon, 27/07/2020

...which could well explain where the original one went astray at some point! Sounds like the voice of experience there :) Yep both breather tops are nice and snug fitting thankfully.

Would the Ewarts fuel taps have been a standard fit on both mowers? I assumed they were, as they fit the tanks without any thread adapters, and have a 1/4 BSP thread, however when I ordered some replacement fibre washers using part number 18617 from the parts diagram, they were much too small, and are actually sized for 1/8 BSP thread

So the thread in the tank and the tap must have changed diameter at some point throughout the Marquis lifecycle?

wristpin Mon, 27/07/2020

Yes, but don’t ask e when as I only realised  it the other day when I found that only two of a box of several would fit a tank on an Auto Certes that I was sorting out for someone else. If you look at George’s Villiers parts site I think that he shows the two diameters.

RedLeader Tue, 28/07/2020

He does indeed - I've got hold of the correct sized fibre washers for the Ewarts taps now. In terms of the fuel tanks, the Mk4 has had the mounting brackets welded at some point - I have never even tried welding so I can't criticise, although I've certainly seen neater jobs :)

The inside of the tank looks absolutely fine, other than needing a swish out / de-rust with nuts and bolts and then some electrolysis. Is this likely to have been to rectify rust where the brackets join the tank? Just trying to imagine what would have necessitated this repair?


hortimech Tue, 28/07/2020

It looks more like soldering than welding to me and soldering steel isn't easy, which is probably why it isn't neat. Personally, I would either find another tank, or have the old one welded correctly.

stevecross Wed, 29/07/2020

If it helps, here's a photo of my Mk 4 Marquis showing the correct locations for the ignition cut-out (upper bolt) and carburettor support bracket (lower bolt).

Regarding the telescopic clutch shaft cover, the 1964 Ransomes Mower leaflet shows the Marquis, Mercury, Meteor and Matador all without a cover. My Mk 4 which I think dates from 1965 or a bit later has a cover.

Accidents with rotating parts must have happened. One of the mower salesmen at our local dealers back in the 60s always wore a bow-tie after an earlier incident when his normal tie got caught in a cylinder which fortunately cut the tie before his face met the blades.

RedLeader Thu, 30/07/2020

It looks more like soldering than welding to me and soldering steel isn't easy, which is probably why it isn't neat. Personally, I would either find another tank, or have the old one welded correctly.

Thanks Hortimech, spares for these mowers don't seem to crop up that often since I've been on the lookout, so I think I will go down the route of getting the old one welded properly. Although that might mean having it painted afterwards, and if the tank is painted, the rest will look odd, which means.... no I can't go down the painting route again, once is enough!!! Maybe just the underside primed and painted to preserve it though.

If it helps, here's a photo of my Mk 4 Marquis showing the correct locations for the ignition cut-out (upper bolt) and carburettor support bracket (lower bolt).

Thank you Steve, that would be helpful - no image was inserted though, so perhaps you only uploaded? Thanks for the info on the telescopic guard - that matches what Hortimech said and fits with the age of both my mowers. I can imagine wearing a tie and ending up in a tug of war with the cylinder blades briefly must have been a bit of a brown pants moment for the salesman!! 

hortimech Thu, 30/07/2020

It is not just ties, I know of one instance where the operator of a Saxon triple had the drawstring of his jacket wrap around the rear axle, with rather unfortunate consequents.

wristpin Thu, 30/07/2020

If it helps, here's a photo of my Mk 4 Marquis showing the correct locations for the ignition cut-out (upper bolt) and carburettor support bracket (lower bolt)

I would question the upper bolt being the  “ correct” location for the cut out . I can’t recollect ever seeing the cut out fitted in that position and none of the eleven Slopers in my fleet has it there; they all have it sharing the lower bolt with the carburettor stay.



hortimech Thu, 30/07/2020

No, the upper bolt is the wrong location, every F12 I have seen had the cut out fitted to the lower bolt.

RedLeader Thu, 30/07/2020

I think you are all wrong - the correct location is somewhere between the both bolts, using a self tapper ;)

RedLeader Fri, 31/07/2020

Only two screws were holding the SIBA recoil starter to the cowling, so probably just missing the screws.... oh wait, nope, the threads in the holes/rivnuts on the back of the engine cowling are no longer threads! I've measured the diameter of one of the screws being used, and it's 0.193" or 3/16". I don't have any taps, so in order to make sure I get the correct size either individually or as part of a set, what would be the next recommended thread size up to tap the rivnuts out to?

Also, the 3 bent over 'tangs' (not sure where I've heard that word before, but might be suitable here!) on the cowlings - are these just to hold on the separate fixing bracket to the cowlings? I know the 2 outer ones are for holding the HT lead in place...

wristpin Fri, 31/07/2020

Tang, the sharp end of a file, or , if the BS manuals are your bed time reading the hooky bit that anchors the Governor spring that requires the use of a tang bender tool to reset it.

Tangs on the Sloper cowling. The internal ones are for the fuel pipe in its proper position . The external ones are for the HT lead in its correct position and on machines with an on/off switch the lead from there that follows the HT lead into the magneto.

The stripped rivnuts. Consider dome headed screws with the heads slimmed down, put through from the back with nuts on the starter side, BUT CHECK OUT THE CLEARANCE BETWEEN THE HEADS AND THE FLYWHEEL FINS.

RedLeader Fri, 31/07/2020

Aha, tang mystery solved, thanks!! A quick google resulted in some entirely different meanings, so thanks for that! Right, so I see why people have used the alternative 'easy/quick' routing for the fuel pipe as and when they have needed to replace it in the past - just running it around the outside. I won't be having any of that when these 2 go back together :)

As for the stripped rivnuts, that's a very good suggestion, thanks. I'll just have to not let it bug me that 2 fixings will be correct, and 2 will be different! I know, these things really shouldn't bother me...

In terms of making sure they aren't too long, here's an illustration of what fitting screws that are too long can do to the flywheel fins...

Gouges of up to 10mm on some of the fins - the ones that still remain at least....

Someone was a little heavy handed when removing this poor flywheel in the past :( There are cracks on 4 other fins at the base in between the 2 missing ones

If only they had used a puller instead

Time to treat this mower to a new flywheel :)

Strange that the front of the flywheels say 'Set Points' but not what they should be set to?? I know it's in the manual, but though that it would have been inscribed on the flywheel.

Another question - what is the purpose of the holes around the outside of the flywheels? Is it due to removal of material in order to achieve a balanced flywheel? Like balancing wheels wiht stick on weights, but in reverse?

wristpin Fri, 31/07/2020

Yes, just occasionally I come across a Sloper with a correctly fitted fuel pipe. Villiers used to use a hard plastic thin wall pipe with the correct inner and outer diameters so that it was not badly pinched by the tangs. With a bit of care standard 3/16 bore pvc pipe works so long as the tangs aren’t pinch onto it too hard. Just check that they aren’t rubbing on the flywheel.

RedLeader Wed, 05/08/2020

Thanks for the info. When they go back together I will get the fuel pipes routed correctly . 

In an effort to better understand how the clutch engages/disengages and locks, I took the chain cover off from the mowers to have a look while squeezing the clutch lever. I can see the outer plate moving in and out. What I don't understand, is why the friction pads don't move and stay still when the clutch is operated? The chain sprocket seems to float over the friction pads - i expected the pads to be fixed to the sprocket based on other pictures I've seen on here and while searching images online. I've made a short video clip showing what I mean - is this correct, or is something not quite right...

Marquis Clutch

wristpin Wed, 05/08/2020

Looks as though the clutch has been over lubricated . The pads are a push fit in the sprocket , usually fairly firmly positioned and move with the plate. I would give the plate and pads a good wash off in petrol and also clean all the surplus lube off the pressure and back plates.

I will sometimes give the pads a tap to centre them in the sprocket but it’s quite unusual for them to need it.

RedLeader Wed, 26/08/2020

Thanks Angus, it sounds like once cleaned off, everything including the pad surfaces just need a light wipe with oil is that correct? With it being friction material, I thought the pad surfaces would need to be free from oil, but this setup obviously doesn't work like that?

hortimech Wed, 26/08/2020

No, your first thoughts were correct, clean up the clutch surfaces and reassemble, do not lubricate anything except the oil nipple and you require the correct oil gun for this, you should use the oil gun sparingly, only a couple of pumps.


RedLeader Thu, 27/08/2020

Thanks very much for clarifying Hortimech. From what I've read, the oil gun would have come with the mower when new as part of the maintenance kit - but something like a Wanner 300-2 would be ideal. These seem to be pretty scarce, so does anybody know of an alternative oil gun that fits the ransomes oil nipples?

wristpin Thu, 27/08/2020

The Wanner is a quality tool but has one drawback for a Marquis - it won’t reach in far enough to do the all important rear roller nipples. The standard gun with all Ransomes that needed oiling was usually a cheap and cheerful Tecalamit and as one was supplied with every new machine there are plenty to be had at autojumbles etc.. Given the choice buy an older one with a metal cap rather than the plastic cap  on later ones.





RedLeader Fri, 28/08/2020

Thanks Angus. The Tecalemit oil guns certainly seem plentiful - all different shapes and sizes by the looks of it. It sounds like the longer the nozzle section the better, to aid in reaching the rear roller nipples. I'll get hold of one which is suitable for the job!

RedLeader Fri, 28/08/2020

Clutch levers. Both clutch levers on my Marquises have broken springs on the locking levers. I'm not sure if it's possible to get in and replace these springs, but if so, does anyone know what this type of spring is called? You can see one leg of the spring in the below picture. It looks like I could grind the end of the peened over pin off to enable the pin to be extracted and then replace the pin with a small nut and bolt perhaps

wristpin Fri, 28/08/2020

I’ve never tried to replace those springs as it’s a very simple action to engage the trigger at the same time as squeezing the main lever. What does help is taking the sideways slop out of the lever by packing between its pivoting horns with three or four washers. . I’ve posted images of that mod on this forum not too long ago but I can’t remember the thread.



hortimech Fri, 28/08/2020

I don't know about those levers, but you used to be able to buy new springs for the later variant (folded steel levers). You used to just punch the rivet out, replace the spring and refit the rivet and peen it over again, I have replaced a lot in my time ;-)


RedLeader Sat, 29/08/2020

Thanks both. The levers are still functional as they are, but if possible I'd like to sort the springs. Hortimech, is this the later version of the lever that you are referring to, as this one off my MK4A is a bit different to the MK4?

It does look like the pin can be punched through, however there isn't anything to peen back over.

Angus - the post you are thinking of was actually on my Atco restoration thread where I was asking about the missing 'Binx' nut on the clutch lever ;) These 2 levers do have a bit of slop in them so I will get some suitable washers to pack them out with.

hortimech Sat, 29/08/2020

Yes, that's the type, when you knocked the pin out with a thin parallel punch, the pin un-mushroomed (unless you were unlucky)

RedLeader Sat, 29/08/2020

Great thanks, I'll give that a try. For bonus points, any idea what the name is for these types of springs? Are they a type of torsion spring? 

wristpin Sat, 29/08/2020

Clutch lever trigger springs ???

Never knew that they were available as a replacement part. Unless a spring supplier does a generic part I suspect that Jon Cruse will be the man to ask.

RedLeader Sun, 30/08/2020

Well at least I have a complete spring as a reference - I managed to punch out the pin on the newer version and the broken half of the spring was lodged up inside thankfully! Here's a picture showing the difference between the 2 levers and also what the spring looks like

So I know what I'm looking for and can take measurements thankfully, but it might be tricky sourcing a couple of matching springs from somewhere. I'll certainly give Jon a shout in case they are available, but if not, a torsion spring manufacturer online might be the only possible source...

RedLeader Wed, 02/09/2020

That was actually my first thought :) however it would need quite a bit of work to get it to fit - probably heating up and carefully unwinding the coils. The inner diameter is too narrow as well. Just to show the similarities and difference

I've had a quote from one spring manufacturer for 2 springs @ £64.83 each...

RedLeader Wed, 02/09/2020

Actually after looking online it actually seems quite straightforward to make your own torsion springs when they are this sort of size. I've got all the dimensions required, and based on some calculations, using 0.039" diameter music wire I would need around 2.95" of wire per spring, so I'll see if I can get hold of a length and give it a try :)

wristpin Wed, 02/09/2020

Wire for springs. Only ever heard it called piano wire but the local model shop has it in metre lengths and various gauges. Plenty on eBay.

RedLeader Wed, 02/09/2020

Yes it seems to go by either music wire of piano wire depending on the retailer. I have a 1 metre length heading my way so will get a suitable diameter mandrel setup in the meantime and hopefully have a go at making them at the weekend...

RedLeader Sat, 05/09/2020

Success! I used some silver steel rod and tapped a thread down through it so that I could create an anchor point with a screw, trapping the piano wire in place. Then wound the wire around as tightly as possible the required number of turns, and created the correct length leg at either end. Thankfully I had 1 metre to play with as the first attempt was a little off. Made 2 springs that resemble the original snapped ones pretty close...

Piano wire, mandrel, and original spring (glued broken leg back on so I could get the correct dimensions)

Mandrel ready for screw and piano wire fixing

First new spring with original in background

Original, second attempt and first attempt (bit too much gap between coils)

Fitted the first spring in place on the newer of the 2 clutch levers (folded steel type) and pushed the centre pin back through

Used the tool I made recently for setting some clutch shoe hollow rivets to gently spread out the other side of the centre pin so it's held nicely in place, and the trigger now works beautifully :) Very happy with the result, so off to fit the second spring to the other clutch lever shortly.

RedLeader Mon, 07/09/2020

Does anyone happen to know what the correct throttle levers should be on the mk4 and mk4a Marquis? My mk4 has the Amal lever 

and my mk4a has the type of lever normally seen on Suffolks

RedLeader Sun, 15/11/2020

Bit of an update as it's been a while! Overhauled both recoil starters. The SIBA branded starter from the MK4A is on the left, and the other smaller starter is from the MK4

First the SIBA stripdown

Then the other starter

There is some sort of retaining spring around the base of the pulley, but I cannot see what this is retaining, other than the pin (which seems fixed) arrowed 

Just a proper knot to tie for the handle and that's both starters sorted...

Curly-col Sun, 20/12/2020

Great strip down , very informative . I have a mk4a , must be an early one as it has the smaller non siba starter mechanism . 

RedLeader Fri, 22/01/2021

Thanks, hope it provides some useful images for others who are restoring/rebuilding etc. 

Not been much progress of late due to other commitments, however attention has turned back to these 2 mowers now. Starting with the older mk4, I've removed the engine from the deck and got it up on my workbench. Head bolts out and head removed. All looks ok with a fair bit of carbon buildup to remove

The plan is to remove the carbon, and then flatten both the head and the block gasket surfaces, remove and clean up the valves, faces and check clearances etc. I will look at removing the threaded bar that has been used in place of a head bolt, which will allow me to flatten the block surface, although I don't hold much hope for being able to replace this with a correct head bolt. I will measure up the head bolts and see if I can find a source for a replacement bolt.