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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Ransomes Ajax Refurb.

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I am at present restoring a Ransomes motor mower, but I have a Ransomes Mk.3 under my workbench for many years. I built this up when I worked at Ransomes in the mid 60's and fitted a new cutting cylinder and many other new parts at the time.         I have quite a liking for these small mowers as they are a joy to use if you have a small lawn and were a very well made machine and never seem to fall to bits.I am restoring the plough type handles and got them out of the loft the other day and I had thought that I would need two new wooden handles, but I had turned some up and forgotten about them. I would like to know approximate age of this machine, but as far as I know, Ransomes did not put serial numbers on the Ajax mowers.  I understand there is a Mk. 3 A, but never seen one. Did the name plate have that on it ?What was the difference between mk. 3 and 3 A ? Somewhere I had a box with the Ransome's crest on it, which I always thought was one of the better looking transfers. Re. the handles, strange how the inner side of the steel handles is like new but the other side needed a lot of work to remove surface rust .



sparkymike Mon, 20/05/2024

Photo showing present condition of the Ajax Hopefully, soon to be a lot better looking. The plough handles are now in primer. The cut adjusting turn bolts were seized, but one is now working. The wing nut is brass but the turn screw is not and plating has long since gone. I may well get it stripped down today if all goes to plan. (Does it ever !!)


sparkymike Tue, 21/05/2024

Mower is now stripped apart from bottom blade where screws are very tight, so soaked in penetrating oil and will leave it for a few days. The cast iron rollers just would not come off even with hide mallet on the shaft end, so I took a chance and pushed the shaft off in my 30 ton workshop press. That worked well without using too much force which was good , as there is no support between the rollers when pressing and in the past I have seen the roller webs break off when too much force was used. The RL5 bearings are dry and feel like they are shot but will clean them up and see. Now a lot of cleaning to do.!! 

Photo showing the reason why rolls were tight. Surface rust on the middle section of the shaft. When I replace this I will coat it in grease or copperslip. Mike.


sparkymike Sat, 25/05/2024

The bottom blade did not want to come off the bottom block and I spent a lot of time removing it. Heat/impact driver/penetrating oil etc. but only one screw shifted. After several days and some diesel fuel soaking the screws, they came out at last with no damage to the block or threads, I am glad to say. I think I replaced the blade some time in the late 60's so the screws had plenty of time to "weld" in. The block had a bit of severe surface rust where the blade sits so I gave it a skim over with my vintage  Janita engine cylinder head re-facer and now it has come up well. I need two RL5 twin race bearings. Where is best place to buy some half decent ones? The close up photo of the block shows it part finished.


sparkymike Tue, 28/05/2024

I am gradually cleaning up all the pieces and on laying all the parts out, it became apparent that the Ajax probably had more bought in components than those made by the Ransomes mower factory. For example,all the alloy parts were made by Birmal,(Birmingham Aluminium co) and amounted to 13 parts. Most of the nuts and bolts were from companies like GKN. The wooden rolls, I remember, arrived in pallets, but no idea who made them. We made the cutting cylinders with blades supplied by Tyzack (Sheffield I believe.) The land rolls were cast in the works foundry as was the bottom blade block. Bottom blade was also Tyzack. The handles on the mk.3 that I am restoring were made in house and I believe the later handles were also in house production. A different story on the motorised mowers as many other parts were made in the factory for them. Photos show bought out parts in one photo and Ransomes made parts in the other.

sparkymike Sun, 02/06/2024

I am having a trial build up and all is ok so far. Land rolls are assembled and drive in grease nipples are fitted. One of the ratchet wheels had a bad thread, so now helicoiled. I have cleaned off the side plates and cover which took a lot of man hours. One of the best methods of cleaning these would be a vapour blasting machine and I do have a friend who uses one in his motor cycle shop. However, as he is sixty miles from my place I resorted to fine brass wire brushes on the dremel drill. I intend to paint these parts in the silver grey hammer finish that Ransomes used on them all the time I was working there, from 1965 to 1970, although this mower being a mk.3 it may well have been plain alloy, as in those days I don't know if the hammer paint was around. Mine did have the hammer finish, but only because when I was first restoring my Ajax, I took the frames and cover into work and had them sprayed in the spray shop. I did not put them on the normal moving chain driven paint line, as they would have probably have mixed them up with the Mk. 5 parts, which amounted to 100 plus per day. Re. paint, Ransomes did not use a primer as such on the assembly paint line. First the parts went through a type of Bonderizing process and then the top coat was applied ,then parts went through an oven for a baked finish.. Larger parts, such as motor mower frames were painted by hand in the spray shop. 


sparkymike Wed, 05/06/2024

Now I am starting to build up the parts and found a small point that could easily be overlooked by other restorers.   The mid gear spindle has a notch in it ,which when fitted correctly, should line up with the raised line on the side frame diecasting. This guides the oil so that is also oils the intermediate gear bush , as well as sending oil to the other gears, via the teeth. It is doubtful if grease would be suited in this area. 


wristpin Wed, 05/06/2024

A good observation. Lubrication using oil and not grease has always featured in Ransomes maintenance instructions for many of their machines.