My First Lawn Mower Restoration

Two-cycle engine

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7574 S. 74th Street Franklin, Wisconsin 53132

I am a fifteen year old boy who has many hobbies, one of which is collecting and restoring antique lawn mowers. Two years ago I bought a 1954 Crafts man lawn mower from a man in Ripon, Wisconsin. The mower was made for Sears by Yard-Man. It is powered by a vertical shaft Power Products two-cycle engine made in Grafton, Wisconsin.

This was a unique and attractive mower. One thing that made it attractive was its bright colors. The engine and all metal parts except the deck were painted a bright silver. The mower deck was painted a bright, orange-red. The handle bar wasn't painted at all, but was varnished. Overall it is one sharp looking lawn mower.

One of the mower's features is that the engine crankshaft is not a direct drive to the blade. It isn't often that you see a vertical shaft engine not having the blade directly mounted to the engine crankshaft. This is a good idea, because the shaft on the engine will not bend if an obstacle is hit with the blade.

Another odd thing about this mower is how the clutch system is designed to run the blade. There is a foot pedal on the rear of the mower deck. When you press this pedal down with your foot, the engine slides towards you and tightens the belt to the blade shaft. To stop the blade from turning, one has to lift the pedal, sliding the engine forward.

This model was the first 21 inch rotary cut mower to use a Power Products engine. Up until this time, all mowers that used Power Product engines were only 16 or 17 inch cut mowers.

I started to restore my Craftsman in the summer of 1993. I disassembled the whole mower and drew pictures of where the pieces went, so I would not forget how to put it back together. I cleaned, sanded, primed, and painted the lawn mower deck. After the deck was fully cleaned, I used fine emery cloth and sanded the deck to even out the areas where the old paint had chipped off, so the new paint would be smooth. Several coats of Rustoleum gray colored primer were used. For the final coat I used Tru-Test, Hi-Gloss, Orange-Red spray paint, which matched the original color. Five coats of the orange-red paint were applied.

The wheel hubs were prepared like the deck for painting. I used a Rustoleum bright silver spray paint. I had to tape the tire with masking tape, to keep it unpainted. I remember sitting at the kitchen table before my school bus arrived, taping my lawn mower wheels, while eating breakfast!

The engine was fun to do because I knew how to repair these engines quite well. My brother Chad and I collect Power Products engines. We have many different types of Power Products engines, including the rare vertical shaft twin cylinder engine. The engine on the Sears mower was a typical single cylinder engine. The gas tank was coated with rust. To remove the rust, I plugged the openings and filled it partially with water and small rocks. Then, I shook the gas tank until the rust had been scraped off by the rocks. I dried the inside of the tank with a hair dryer and sprayed some WD40 in it to prevent more rusting.

My dad sandblasted any rusty parts. The engine was in very good condition. The condenser and the carburetor gasket needed to be replaced. This was an easy gasket to make. The engine parts were painted with Rustoleum, high heat, silver spray paint. I used plastic wrap and masking tape to protect areas that I didn't want to be painted.

The handle and the clutch system were cleaned, wire-brushed and painted. The wooden handle bar was sanded and varnished.

Putting the lawn mower together was simple. The hardest part was adjusting the clutch system. You can see my 1954 Craftsman lawn mower at antique tractor and gas engine shows in the Wiscon sin and northern Illinois area. I'm now restoring a 1934 Sears 19 inch reel mower with a Briggs 'Y' engine.