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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Renovating an Atco De-luxe mid 1970. Cleaning a rusty petrol tank

I have been given a scruffy looking Atco De-luxe mid 1970 and have  maybe discovered the fourth of the great lies which is, "It used to go very nicely."

The first thing I found was that the petrol tank is very rusty inside and looking on the Internet I found suggestions as follows:

1.  Use a good fuel filter.

2.  Fill it with White vinegar.

3.  Use caustic soda.

I would welcome any suggestions.

I put some petrol into the tank, it leaked from every fibre washer.  It looks as though it would be cheaper to replace the on/off tap but I want a brass one not a plastic one. 

Many thanks in anticipation.

Forums

wristpin Thu, 09/06/2016

Be aware that some steel fuel tanks have solder filled joints for either the bushing for the tap or sealing the seam on tanks fabricated from two or more components and that solder is attacked by some acidic substances. This is certainly the case with some phosphoric acid based rust removers and I would need some reassurance before using oxalic acid.

I regularly de-rust the inside of steel tanks using electrolysis  - not quick but very effective . Power provided by a battery charger and a washing soda solution as the electrolyte.

Positive electrode insulated from the tank which acts as the negative.

Electrode showing rust transferred to it from the inside of the tank

More rust removed from the electrode

Positive electrode showing rust and "gunge" attracted from within the tank

Bower from a battery charger.

BML Thu, 09/06/2016

Many thanks for those suggestions.  So far I have tried pouring some paraffin into the tank and then dropping a handful of nuts and bolts and then giving it a good shake.  That went alright until my wife came into the garage and caught me at upon which she burst out laughing and asked me if I was joining a skiffle group.  The younger members of the forum should look it up on the Internet.  At the moment the tank is outside with a solution of Caustic Soda in it and I will let you know how it works tomorrow.  

gtc Fri, 10/06/2016

I have used the cocktail shaker method. A handful of garden path pebbles of various sizes and water. Shake and rinse. Repeat as necessary until clean. Use an inline fuel filter, or a u bend in the pipe, for the first tank or so of petrol.

I'll certainly give Wristpin's method a go next time around.

farmerboyce Fri, 10/06/2016

Not exactly related to the topic but on my Atco (model yet to be confirmed) the brass fuel tap has a cork bung to open the fuel tank to pipe, can this piece of cork be replaced or a complete new brass tap??

wristpin Fri, 10/06/2016

If it's a Ewarts type plunger type tap you can buy new plungers complete with the cork and there have been replacement corks offered by an auction site seller but may experience with the quality of the corks supplied by the latter was not good!

Have a look at

www.villiersparts.co.uk

wristpin Fri, 10/06/2016

One advantage of electrolytic rust removal from any component is that one can just leave it to get on with it and do other jobs.  The attached link explains the process and chemistry in detail. Just bear in mind that for tank cleaning the electrodes are reversed in relation to a component hung in a tank - ie the tank itself is the negative and contains the electrolyte and the positive inserted through the filler orifice, is insulated from it and mustn't touch the inside.

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/andyspatch/rust.htm

BML Sat, 11/06/2016

Question on using Caustic Soda.  I put the water into the petrol tank and poured the Caustic Soda into it but how long should the solution be left?

 

wristpin Sat, 11/06/2016

I've never used a caustic soda solution specifically for rust removal and I'm not sure how effective it is as we used to use a hot solution for stripping paint of cutting cylinders , pressure wash them and then immerse them in a phosphoric acid tank to remove the rust before re-painting them. From memory there was still plenty of rust left on them after tha caustic tank but the hot solution would remove all the paint in a couple of hours and then they were moved on . May be if left for longer it would have shifted the rust but back in the day we were processing a lot of large cylinders on a production line basis and moved them on as soon as the paint was lifted.

I would just point out that Caustic Soda is nasty stuff - full face shield, plastic/rubber apron and elbow length rubber gloves were the order of the day.

hsu139 Mon, 11/07/2016

Hi BML,

Hope the renovation is going well. I also have a Deluxe that needs a bit of TLC. Though it cuts well- the back lawn is currently like a bowling green!

Out of interest, where are you sourcing parts? I got a bit over zealous and had a bump with my shed the other day and need a replacement bracket into which the left side of the grass box slots. 

Thanks. 

David

wristpin Tue, 12/07/2016

Even when those machines were current the original brackets were fragile and used to " stretch" . Later ones were reinforced with a piece of plate welded across the open side do that the weight of  a full box didn't open them up.

hsu139 Tue, 12/07/2016

Interesting. I could fashion some sort of homemade workaround, but given that this type of mower isn't particularly rare I should be able to get my hands on a replacement.

On an unrelated note, my granddad phoned me the other day to say he had an old mower in his garage that I might be interested in. Turned out to be a Ransomes Marquis Mk4. So that'll be my next project!

BML Fri, 15/07/2016

I have very kindly been offered a replacement plastic petrol tap for this mower but I would very much like an original one or at least the cork bits and pieces.  Can anyone offer a sugestion as to where I may find these bits and pieces?  Many thanks. 

BML Fri, 15/07/2016

You are indeed right and I remember what looks like a Francis Barnet motorcycle so thank you very much.  I don't think I'm going Ga Ga and my very kind wife blames my forgetfullness on having to many projects on the go but I will create an order later today so many thanks again.

Rhumours Fri, 15/07/2016

Not the same mower but my petrol tank nozzle rotated freely and at idle ... much petrol lapping out of the non seal. I imagine dirt and grime had held it for years. Till the other day. But the creme brulee micro torch and some solder and flux did the job. When I sand and respray it in the future ill glide a dremmel round it to hide the marks before respray. 

BML Wed, 22/02/2017

<p>The last thing that happened was that someone was over enthusiastic in attempting to start it and wrecked the recoil starter so I bought a replacement and when that was fitted the mower started but that was a few months ago.</p>

<p>Today, feeling the start of Spring and aided by the suggestion from my wife that I should get some exercise I bought some petrol, primed the refurbished carburetor, gave the starter a pull and nothing happened other than the pull cord flopping about.&nbsp; The recoil starter did not recoil so I took it off and played about with the insides until I discovered that the metal bits in the middle expanded upon which I replaced the Recoil starter and gave it a try.&nbsp; It turned the engine over once before returning to its original behavior which was to just spin round without moving the engine and upon removing the starter I found that the metal bits which had expanded had shrunk again.</p>

<p>Can anyone please give me an idea of what I need to do to correct this problem.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>

BML Wed, 22/02/2017

<p>The last thing that happened was that someone was over enthusiastic in attempting to start it and wrecked the recoil starter so I bought a replacement and when that was fitted the mower started but that was a few months ago.</p>

<p>Today, feeling the start of Spring and aided by the suggestion from my wife that I should get some exercise I bought some petrol, primed the refurbished carburetor, gave the starter a pull and nothing happened other than the pull cord flopping about.&nbsp; The recoil starter did not recoil so I took it off and played about with the insides until I discovered that the metal bits in the middle expanded upon which I replaced the Recoil starter and gave it a try.&nbsp; It turned the engine over once before returning to its original behavior which was to just spin round without moving the engine and upon removing the starter I found that the metal bits which had expanded had shrunk again.</p>

<p>Can anyone please give me an idea of what I need to do to correct this problem.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>

wristpin Wed, 22/02/2017

Starter Components. Starter casing, recoil spring, starter pulley and rope, starter pawls, activator bar, compression spring, washers and split pin. Starter cup fixed to the engine flywheel.

Pulling the rope rotates the pulley onto which are pivoted two pawls (the shiny bits of metal). Attached to the casing centre spindle is the activator bar, its freedom to rotate being resisted by the pressure of a small compression spring, a couple of washers and a split pin. The activator bar also engages the two pawls. When the pulley is rotated by the action of the rope the pawls are pulled outward to engage the cup by the resistance of the activator  until they firmly grip the inside of the cup. At that point the activator bar overcomes the friction of the compression spring and is able to rotate. When the rope is released the reverse action takes place under the influence of the recoil spring  and the pawls are withdrawn .

The most common cause of the pawls not engaging the cup is the activator bar being too free to move - either through over lubrication or incorrect assembly, but it is sometimes necessary to try different thicknesses of washer to increase the friction.

The most common cause of starter failure is incorrect operation such as snatching at the handle rather than pulling it out gently until the pawls engage and then firmly pulling to turn the engine. Repeated starter failure is usually down to misalignment or an underlying engine issue .

 

BML Wed, 22/02/2017

Many thanks for such a remarkably full answer which I will wait for my mechanic son to come and eal with.   

BML Thu, 09/03/2017

"Starter Components. Starter casing, recoil spring, starter pulley and rope, starter pawls, activator bar, compression spring, washers and split pin. Starter cup fixed to the engine flywheel."

I read the following.

"Pulling the rope rotates the pulley onto which are pivoted two pawls (the shiny bits of metal). Attached to the casing Centre spindle is the activator bar, its freedom to rotate being resisted by the pressure of a small compression spring, a couple of washers and a split pin. The activator bar also engages the two pawls. When the pulley is rotated by the action of the rope the pawls are pulled outward to engage the cup by the resistance of the activator  until they firmly grip the inside of the cup. At that point the activator bar overcomes the friction of the compression spring and is able to rotate. When the rope is released the reverse action takes place under the influence of the recoil spring  and the pawls are withdrawn .

The most common cause of the pawls not engaging the cup is the activator bar being too free to move - either through over lubrication or incorrect assembly, but it is sometimes necessary to try different thicknesses of washer to increase the friction.

The most common cause of starter failure is incorrect operation such as snatching at the handle rather than pulling it out gently until the pawls engage and then firmly pulling to turn the engine. Repeated starter failure is usually down to misalignment or an underlying engine issue ."

I have tried to start the mower but if I just fit it without pulling the pawls apart therby expanding the pawls so that they fit into the cup nothing happens.  If I expand the two pawls by pulling them apart the starter then fits into the cup and pulling the cord turns the cylinder.  However, if the mower does not start first pull the cord does nothing because the pawls have retracted and do not connect into the cup.  Logically I would have thought that one fits the starter and give a pull of the cord which acting with cenrifugal force would propelled the pawls into contact with the cup but the pawls are to stiff so nothing happens so what is at fault, my logic or the construction the starter? 

You said that, "When the pulley is rotated by the action of the rope the pawls are pulled outward to engage the cup by the resistance of the activator  until they firmly grip the inside of the cup."

Could you explain how this happens because I have pulled the cord a number of times holding the starter in my hand and the pawls are not pulled outwards to engage the cup.  Is the starter faulty? 

 

BML Thu, 09/03/2017

I've just spotted something else. Starting from the top of the starter when laid flat exposing the insides there is a split pin going through the black center pin, below that is a washer and below that is a flat metal piece.  It appears to me that there is no gap between that piece of metal and the plastic structure of the starter and therefore the pawl is not free to move and flip open and or shut. 

wristpin Thu, 09/03/2017

As a general observation, those plastic bodied starters are C*** as there is a certain amount of flex in them and its a matter of fiddling the washer thickness so that just the right amount of pre-load is exerted on the activator bar so that it resists the turning movement of the pulley and causes the pawls to expand. Too much friction and it will bind; too little and it will rotate without expanding the pawls.You don't mention the compression spring that lies below the activator bar - it and its washer should keep the bar just clear of the pulley.

It is an inertia starter, the inertia of the activator expands the pawls. Once you get your head around how it should work, it is easier to see what needs to be done to correct it.

BML Thu, 09/03/2017

In my haste to speed read I nearly missed the following. "You don't mention the compression spring that lies below the activator bar - it and its washer should keep the bar just clear of the pulley."

I only have one washer on this device which is held into place by a split pin.  Although there is indeed a compression spring that lies below the activator bar there is no washer.  Should I place one there?

wristpin Fri, 10/03/2017

Sorry, I may have misled you there as the parts diagram that I've just grabbed does NOT show a washer under the activator bar although I'm fairly sure that I've worked on starters where there has been one.  This may just be that someone else has had problems and has found that an extra washer helped or it may be as a result of the change in the " construction" of the activator bar. The earlier ones were basically a bit of quite thick  flat steel, but the later ones were thinner  but flanged and had a drilled collar instead of the top washer  - the split pin passing through the drilling to stop the collar rotating and so applying more friction to the activator bar. If your starter is a bit of a "mix and match" that has gained a thin activator but no collar it may need washers "as required" !  See the Note at the end of the attached parts list.

I think that I have a new ( but probably pattern part) starter out in the shed and I'll have a look later and post an image or two if appropriate.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/y2padwks6m31m9o/Suffolk%20recoil%20unit0001.p…