Letters and Miscellanies

Coldwell Lawn Mower Engines


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The engine pictured on the bottom of page 11 of the November 2004 issue (39/11/4C) is a lawn mower engine used on the Coldwell Lawn Mower Model L. Coldwell used the engine between 1923-1928. A version of this engine was also used by Fuller & Johnson on their own mower from at least 1917.

Coldwell was the first mower company in this country to manufacture a power mower. They offered a gas-powered mower from at least 1898, with steam being added during the turn of the century. The gas engine mowers made during the early 1900s used Red Wing motors. Around 1912, Coldwell introduced a gas-powered walk-behind mower using Middleton Machine one lungers; Fuller & Johnson engines were used after Middleton faded. If you have an F&J with a chain cog on both sides, it could be from a Coldwell.

Larger mowers used various engine suppliers. Coldwell introduced the Model L using the F&J radiator-cooled engine in time for the 1923 season. Around this time Coldwell introduced one of the world's first electric mowers. Coldwell at this time claimed to be the largest mower manufacturer in the world. They were making push mowers, horse-drawn, electric and gas mowers.

The engine on top of the page (39/11/4A) is a Jacobsen mower engine from the mid-1930s. Toro and Ideal also made their own engines. The singles and twins were used up until about 1940 when they were replaced by Briggs & Stratton Ks. A smaller homeowner mower was introduced at about this time, also using Briggs engines along with an "improved" commercial unit. Coldwell was bought out by Portable Products around 1944 and merged with rival Philadelphia. Mowers using Briggs, Continental, Clinton and other engines were built until Toro acquired everything around 1950.

It is interesting to wonder whether Fuller & Johnson could have survived if Coldwell had continued to use Fuller & Johnson engines into the 1930s. Coldwell sold thousands of power mowers during the 1930s.

Mike Semanoff
26 George St.
Waterbury, Conn. 06706